A FIFTEEN-year-old boy from North Swindon has admitted he lied to police when he claimed that his crutches had been stolen by three attackers as he walked in Redhouse.

On July 16 police put out an appeal asking for any witnesses to the alleged robbery after the boy claimed he had been set upon and his crutches stolen.

The boy had said he had been walking on a footpath adjacent to Oakhurst Way between 5.30pm and 6pm when three youths attempted to steal his bag but made away with his crutches instead.

It has now emerged that the lad had been lying to officers all along, having lost his crutches after playing football.

After discovering holes in his evidence, officers got the boy to admit he had been lying and he has now been reprimanded.

The incident had diverted police resources away from other areas while the investigation was underway, and police have warned others against false claims of crimes which could have a detrimental effect on responses to real incidents.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “Earlier in July there was great concern in the community that an obviously injured boy could be punched in the chest and have to fight off three attackers who were allegedly trying to steal his bag.

“Following investigation by the Swindon Priority Crime Team, and information gathered by the North Swindon neighbourhood policing team, it became clear that there were discrepancies in his evidence. The teenager was then questioned by detectives from Gablecross Police Station, and he admitted that he had made the story up because he had lost his crutches after playing football.

“The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been given a verbal warning by officers for making false allegations to the police. He has been left in no doubt of the seriousness of this lie, which has tied up valuable police resources investigating a false report, and also caused alarm and worry amongst residents in a normally safe and peaceful neighbourhood.

Detective Constable Claire Watts said: “False claims divert valuable resources away from genuine crime victims who may need our help. We are committed to thoroughly investigating all reports, which does mean that any inconsistencies will be uncovered.

“Robbery is a very serious crime, and can be extremely distressing to the injured party. I would always encourage genuine victims to come forward.”.

Anyone who has been a genuine victim of crime should report it directly to the force through non-emergency number 101.