YOUNG VOICES

Student Serena Bowes Was Raped On A College Trip To Italy. So Why Is SHE Facing Jail?

14/11/2014 12:28 GMT | Updated 14/11/2014 12:59 GMT

A student who claims she was raped while on a college trip in May faces extradition to Italy, and possibly jail, on the grounds she is accused of fabricating the allegation.

If found guilty, Serena Bowes could serve a prison sentence of up to 12 years in Italy.

The 21-year-old says she was raped in the unisex toilet of a nightclub while on a trip to Florence with Newcastle College.

Upon returning home she received a letter, informing her that she would be facing a charge for falsifying the rape allegations, a charge she strongly denies.

Her family had until Thursday to find legal representation to present her case, without which the trial would proceed in her absence. It is not yet known whether Serena managed to secure this in time.

Serena, who has ambitions to join the army, told ChronicleLive: “I thought it was done with and I could get on with my life.

“I don’t think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back.

“It doesn’t feel what actually happened is the problem any more – it feels like that has actually been forgotten about.

“Once this is all over that’s when it’s going to come back and hit me.”

The second year fashion student was on the trip as part of her course when the incident happened. She claims that during a night out with friends, she began talking with a man. The pair then made their way to the VIP area when she was taken to the toilet and assaulted.

The alleged crime was reported to Italian police and statements were made to officers. She was also taken to hospital for tests.

It was upon her return to Newcastle that Serena received the letter from Italian police letting her know that she faced criminal charges instead.

Serena added: "I just don't talk about it. It's as if I'm telling someone else's story. I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there.

"If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over."

Serena’s mother, Adele, has been fighting for legal representation since, raising the case with local politicians in a bid for help.

A Home Office spokesperson told the Huffington Post UK the department does not comment on individual cases.

The National Crime Agency confirmed, meanwhile, that an extradition request had been made by Italian authorities, but was not able to elaborate on the case as a matter of policy.