Social media has changed the way we communicate without a doubt. It has also changed the way we do a host of other things including crime, revenge, show love, get jobs, lose friends and spouses, announce whats new with us, and generally get foolish. Now getting foolish is one thing, getting evil, quite another.
How else would one describe a situation where a woman goes on facebook and randomly picks a name to accuse of having raped her? How much more evil and conscienceless could anyone get?
God thing is, she aint getting away with it.
- Linsey Attridge picked a photo from Facebook to back up rape ordeal lies
- ‘We have no idea why she picked on us,’ her victim tells the Mail
By BETH HALE
Given everything he has been through, one wonders how Philip McDonald can even bring himself to look at Facebook. True, he’s hyper-conscious about his security settings, but then, so would you be if you’d endured what he has over the past two years.
For Philip, a polite and quietly spoken 26-year-old father-of-one, was plucked out of the blue by a total stranger who spotted his picture on the social networking site and decided to falsely accuse him of rape.
In an act of inexplicable viciousness, 31-year-old fantasist Linsey Attridge chanced upon a photograph of Philip and his then 14-year-old brother James and used it to back up a story she’d concocted. She’d done it, apparently, in order to win some sympathy with her boyfriend, when she feared his affections were waning.
It led to Philip, a wholly innocent chef, being harassed in the street and shunned at the school gates. He is still fighting, two years later, to salvage his battered reputation.
Philip, speaking for the first time to the Mail, still struggles to articulate the true horror of what happened to him.
‘It’s frightening,’ he says. ‘We have no idea why she picked on us.’
It is Philip’s partner Kelly Fraser, 27, who describes their experience.
‘It was like our lives were a deck of cards and someone just threw the whole lot up in the air and that was our lives for two years,’ she says. ‘We have only just started to pick up the pieces now.’
And her punishment for a callous deceit that besmirched the names of two innocent young men? A risible 200 hours of community service and a social services supervision order.
Neither she, nor the police, have apologised to Philip or James.
The story has led many to ask, quite rightfully, how this could have happened. ‘You couldn’t make it up,’ is the general summary.
Well, it appears you could — if you’re Linsey Attridge, that is.
Philip describes himself as an ordinary ‘family guy’. He has a six-year-old daughter Erin and another baby on the way, and has never been in trouble with the law.
In fact, he has even applied to join the police force twice because he ‘likes helping people’.
He manages a rueful smile as he looks at the photograph that started it all: a close-up of the two brothers, the younger boy’s arm slung companionably over Philip’s shoulder, both staring directly at the camera. Two years ago, it was his profile photograph — the first image people see when visiting his Facebook page.
‘It was taken at a party,’ he says. ‘It was a wedding thing at my mum’s neighbour’s house.’
He had no inkling — and who would — that one night in August 2011, Attridge, sitting at her laptop, barely a mile away on the outskirts of Aberdeen, would alight on that photograph, as she trawled Facebook, looking for faces to fit a story that was in its entirety a figment of her imagination.
She’d claimed two men had broken into the home she shared with her boyfriend Nick Smith while he was away playing football.
The men, she said, subjected her to a brutal attack — she even punched herself in the face and ripped her clothing to make her tale more credible.
When, a few days later, two plain clothes police officers walked into the city centre cafe where Philip worked, he assumed they wanted some breakfast.
‘Then they shouted: “Philip McDonald”, and I said: “Yeah, that’s me,” and they said: “It’s CID, we want to speak to you”,’ he recalls.
Philip, totally unaware that he was in any trouble, was unperturbed. It was only when the detectives said there was an investigation that also involved his brother and that they needed to go to the police station that he began to panic.
‘They told me stuff in the car about the allegation of rape. I was completely shocked and burst into tears.’
Unknown to Philip, his brother, a student at a residential school for teenagers with behavioural problems, had been taken in handcuffs from his mother’s home half an hour earlier.
He recalls how frightened he was during the five hours in which he was questioned, fingerprinted and swabbed for DNA.
‘My life is clear, I’ve had no dealings with the police whatsoever,’ he says. ‘I was just panicking, panicking . . .
‘It was when they mentioned that it was such-and-such a day that I calmed down. I told them I was putting my daughter to sleep at that time. I had an alibi. Kelly’s family were there and everyone vouched for me, saying: “He was putting his daughter to bed.”
‘They finally released me at about half past two in the afternoon and said: “We will get back in touch with you.”
Kelly, who was alerted to the brothers’ arrest by their mother, picks up the story.
‘I just felt utterly sick when I heard what the allegation was. No one can know how that feels unless they have been there.
‘When something like that happens, your mind goes into overtime, you don’t know what to believe. He could have lost his job, his family.
‘It’s a good job I’ve been with Philip for so long and not just a few months. I just knew he wouldn’t have done that.’
Philip and Kelly, who met at school and started their family aged 18, wish they knew why a blonde-haired stranger they had never met — indeed they’ve still only seen her in photographs — dropped such a grenade into their lives.
It took two months for the fiction she had concocted to fall apart, during which time Linsey submitted herself to the rigours of forensic investigation — intimate physical examinations, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, the kind of scrutiny that women who have genuinely been raped endure because they want justice.
Throughout this process, Linsey sobbed, shook with fright and even made herself sick to hoodwink the female friend supporting her through her ‘ordeal’.
Out in the real world, Philip’s ordeal was much worse: ‘He got harassed in the street; even in the school grounds parents were looking him up and down,’ remembers Kelly. ‘It was just horrible. I’m sure people were looking at me thinking “What is she still doing with him?” ’
The whispering at the gates of their daughter’s school became so unbearable that they withdrew her, moving her to another school where the pupils and parents knew nothing of Philip’s arrest.
‘We could tell what people were thinking by the way they were looking at us,’ says Kelly.
‘That’s why we ended up putting her in another school. That was hard.’
‘Why would you do something like that? How many lives has she ruined? I wonder if she realises that it was a little girl’s life she ruined, too?’
They are not alone. In a different part of the city, kickboxing instructor Nick Smith, 32, gives a disbelieving shake of his head as he recalls how he was taken in by his ex-girlfriend Linsey, who spent more than a year living under his roof while he supported her and her daughter.
‘I look back and see so many things and think: “What an idiot”,’ he says.
‘The things she put me through, the things she put those guys through. They didn’t deserve that. No one deserves that. There are very few people she didn’t convince.’
Strangely, it was through Facebook that Nick first met Linsey, who grew up in Grangemouth, near Falkirk, with her mother Marion, a seamstress, and father Alexander, a window cleaner.
The family were Jehovah’s Witnesses and Nick wonders whether her strict religious upbringing shaped the woman Linsey became.
‘When she left the faith, she told me her family stopped speaking to her for a time, but that may not even be true. I’ve met them and they are all nice people.’
Linsey married financial advisor Gary Attridge in 2008 in a civil ceremony, with her sister Julie as bridesmaid. This was followed by a rainy honeymoon in Malta.
A daughter, Emily, swiftly followed. But by 2010, the marriage was on the rocks and she found Nick online, perhaps attracted by photographs of a good-looking, fit young man. She left Grangemouth and moved to be with Nick in Aberdeen.
By the summer of 2011, that relationship was also in pieces. Linsey, says Nick, had sex with a friend of his in his home, while he lay sleeping upstairs.
The couple separated after Linsey confessed, but Nick allowed Linsey and her daughter to stay in his home to give the child some stability. ‘We were two people living in a house for the sake of a young girl who needed stability. I had formed a strong bond with Emily, to the point where it was me she came to if she hurt herself. She even called me Daddy.’
It was against this backdrop that the fiction began. Linsey was desperate to save her relationship and pretended she’d been attacked, presumably to garner sympathy from Nick. Little of the saga was revealed in court, but the Mail has learned that Linsey heaped lie upon lie.
She didn’t immediately claim rape, first saying that she’d been attacked, and only embellishing her tale — to garner more sympathy perhaps — a few days later.
Next she claimed that Nick’s friends, transport manager Raymond Henderson and his wife Tanya, and their two daughters aged eight and six, who supported her through her apparent ordeal, were going to be targeted by the ‘bad men’.
There were reports, presumably generated by Linsey, that men matching the description of the ‘rapists’ had been seen near the Hendersons’ home and they were forced to move into a hotel, on police advice, for their safety for a week.
Meanwhile, it was a terrified Tanya Henderson who listened to Linsey as she sobbed. It was also Tanya who accompanied her to the subsequent medical examination.
‘They actually had to stop the medical a few times,’ says Tanya with disgust. ‘She felt faint, she went to be sick . . . the things she put herself through. We went and got a pregnancy test, tests for Hepatitis C, Aids. The woman deserves an Oscar, she was such a good actress.’
By the time the pack of lies fell apart in October 2011, all concerned had begun to suspect Linsey’s tale. But no one dared question the account of a woman who claimed she had been raped.
After all, as Tanya says: ‘Who makes that up?’
In the end, it was when Linsey again harmed herself and attempted to lay the blame at Nick’s door that the lies came crashing down. She could no longer sustain the fiction and the police were called.
Philip was back in the cafe, working, when the police came calling again.
‘All they said was: “You’re in the clear.” No apology. Nothing.’
Philip and Kelly are not the only ones left reeling by the web of deceit Linsey Attridge wove around their lives.
Linsey’s former friends Tanya and Ray are still understandably furious at how they were taken in. ‘I was livid and just talking about it now, I feel angry at the pain she has caused, at what she has done to my family, to Nick, to two guys. So many lives have been affected,’ says Ray.
‘Those poor guys were innocent, and they will have to live with the stigma that she attached to them for the rest of their lives,’ adds Tanya.
And what, you might ask, of Linsey Attridge?
The young mother is back living in Grangemouth, 130 miles south of the scene of her deceit.
A man answered the door when the Mail visited her flat and insisted she would not be commenting.
Meanwhile, her mother Marion Black, on her way to collect Linsey’s daughter from nursery school, said: ‘There are two sides to every story and it is not true, what has been written. Linsey has been very upset, this has been a humiliation for her.’
In their modest flat back in Aberdeen, where they are doing their very best to look after their daughter and prepare for a new baby, Philip McDonald and Kelly Fraser are remarkably composed considering all they have been through.
‘I think it actually made us stronger, believe it or not,’ says Kelly.
‘We had to be strong for Erin. We have to get on with our lives. But talking like this is something Philip needed to do, he needed to get this off his chest, so that people know he and James are innocent.’
Philip, not a man who angers easily, is resigned to the fact that the apology he would like will probably never come.
‘People like that should be locked up and taught to respect other people and their families,’ he says.
‘Why is she allowed to walk away? If she’s done this to me and my brother, how many other people are there that she’s made up lies about?’
Culled from dailymail.co.uk