A dad has told how his life was left in tatters and he tried to kill himself after wrongly being accused of raping a young woman.
Father of two Darren Ball, 25, suffered seven months of "living hell", lost his job and feared he would never see his sons again after he was accused of raping Alesha Watkins following a party.
Mr Ball had to endure 17 hours in police custody while he was questioned about the made-up attack, appeared in court four times and blames the loss of his job on the accusations.
At one point Mr Ball became so frustrated with the lies that he tried to throw himself into the path of oncoming traffic, with concerned passers-by having to pull him out of the road to safety.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening Telegraph, Mr Ball, of Woodland Road, Rushden, said: "It was the most horrible thing I have ever been through in my life. A case like this was my word against hers. I thought I wasn't going to see my kids again."
He was speaking after Watkins was jailed on Monday for 20 months after admitting she made up the rape accusation and claims that Mr Ball had made a death threat against her.
Mr Ball, who had never been arrested in his life, came home one day after work to find his front door had been smashed in by police who had come to arrest him.
He said: "When I was arrested I was in a massive state of shock; I was crying. I didn't know what was going on. I live down a quiet road, everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows who I am. But months after the charges were dropped people were still saying 'have you heard, we've got a rapist living down the road'.
"I should have been cleared completely, but I was still getting funny looks from people."
Mr Ball, who has two sons, Tony, four, and Tommy, nine, also blames the loss of his job as a builder on the case.
He said: "I got laid off, which I think was down to this because I was walking around like a zombie, and I couldn't put 100 per cent in to work."
Mr Ball never denied sleeping with Watkins. He said they met for the first time on the night of the party, and later had sex at his home while under the influence of alcohol.
Watkins dropped the accusation of rape after revealing to friends while on holiday that she had been lying.
However, she initially told the court she was changing her mind because she had received death threats from Mr Ball, which was also a lie.
She finally confessed to the lies at Northampton Crown Court on Monday, and was sentenced to 20 months for perverting the course of justice.
Mr Ball said he was pleased with the verdict, but felt sorry for his former accuser. He said: "I pity her, because she has lost 20 months of her life over something which is stupid and petty and a lie."
He also pointed out the impact the case could have on women who were genuine victims of rape, saying: "I don't think it's fair that some people do get raped and are scared to go to the police about it, yet there are people like her lying about the whole thing."