The victim of a woman who made false rape claims against former Tory minister Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine has spoken out.
Veteran Paratrooper Chris Crabtree has told of his ordeal as ex-lover Emily Checksfield begins four years behind bars.
Mr Crabtree, 43, spent three months in Lewes prison after Checksfield, 41, of Owen Square, Walmer, falsely alleged he threatened to kill her with a samurai sword at their home in Rye.
He was arrested at gunpoint by armed officers in East Sussex in April 2012. He was denied bail.
In 2003 Checksfield, using the name Nadine Milroy-Sloan, was jailed for three years after a six-week trial for making the false claim about the Hamiltons that cost an estimated £1 million.
She had sold her story to the national papers under the representation of the now-shamed publicity guru Max Clifford.
Her sentence was reported at the time to be the steepest meted out for a false rape claim.
Even with her notorious past, the police and CPS decided to prosecute Mr Crabtree over the samurai sword claim. Mr Crabtree told the Mercury: “They bought into it wholeheartedly.”
Checksfield even played his military career against him, painting the picture he was a Jekyll and Hyde character.
He alleged in court that her spiteful campaign against him started when he uncovered she had been defrauding two military charities that he helped her raise cash for when they first met on dating website Plenty of Fish.
“She is so convincing. She believes what she says. I think she is a sociopath. She has no conscience” - Chris Crabtree, who was imprisoned because of Emily Checksfield's lies
“It made me feel sick when I found out,” he said. “I told her our relationship was over and she had to pay the money back or I would tell the police.”
Checksfield was never convicted of the allegation. After he gave her the ultimatum, she quickly made the call to police, duping them into believing he was mentally unstable and had post traumatic stress disorder from his time in combat.
Her claims that he had access to weapons and was likely to resist arrest sparked the costly armed response.
While in custody it dawned on Mr Crabtree that anyone who rejected her “had to pay”. And he was paying.
He claims he had seen warning signs from her past behaviour with relatives and an old boss – that was when the cracks in their nine-month relationship began to show.
Before then, even his Army interrogator training did not help him detect a sinister side to his lover.
“She is so convincing,” he said. “She believes what she says. I think she is a sociopath. She has no conscience.”
He endured three months in prison on remand, with his 25-year military career in jeopardy.
He received little assistance from the Army who, Mr Crabtree said, “wisely sat on the fence”.
While locked up, he had to battle more wild and untrue accusations that “could have reduced a lesser man to suicide”.
It was not until the lies caught up with her that Mr Crabtree was released from custody in July 2012, but not before she had concocted more twists in a bid to keep him inside.
Checksfield told Rye MP Amber Judd that Mr Crabtree’s laptop contained child porn and evidence he had been torturing prisoners in Afghanistan.
The MOD’s experts analysed the computer. Eventually Mr Crabtree’s innocence was proven and the holes in Checksfield’s story were revealed.
Mr Crabtree returned from prison to find his home ransacked and his belongings missing. He launched a burglary allegation against her and some of his belongings were found in Checksfield’s new home in Walmer. She was acquitted of the charge at her trial.
Checksfield begged him to meet her and drop the charge, and when he reluctantly met with her at Folkestone Harbour, Mr Crabtree covertly recorded her admitting she had lied about the whole thing.
“Seeing her again after everything, I had to ignore every sense of loathing I had for her because I knew getting that confession was gold dust.”
Two years later the recording finally cleared his name for good and secured her conviction and a four-year jail term.
Relieved it is all over, Mr Crabtree said: “Now I am retraining because I am leaving the military and I volunteer for the RNLI.
“A lot of people saw me being arrested at gunpoint that day in Camber. Now I’m just trying to rebuild my reputation after what happened.”