A 60 Minutes special report has revealed Sarah Jane Parkinson’s allegations of horrific domestic violence and rape were part of an evil, premeditated plan to send her partner to jail, so she could claim their family home.
Former prison guard Dan Jones met Parkinson in 2011. After just months of dating, they began planning their wedding.
Parkinson told her fiancé she had a troubled past, alleging she had been raped not only by one of her friend’s fathers, but also by a Turkish diplomat who fled the country before charges were laid.
Believing Parkinson’s heartbreaking stories, Jones was overwhelmed with sympathy for his future bride.
He was determined to build a stable home for the couple to forge ahead with their life together.
Jones told reporter Liz Hayes their relationship changed when Parkinson started a new job at Queanbeyan Police as a clerical assistant – and as 60 Minutes revealed, it was also when Parkinson began weaving an intricate web of lies.
When Parkinson came to work with bruises, police said she told them Jones was abusing her.
But what she failed to mention was that she suffered a heart condition that made her dizzy, and she had tunnel vision, all of which contributed to a series of household accidents and injuries.
“She was always clumsy. We always used to make it into a joke,” said Dan’s father, Ian.
“But what she was doing was giving herself a bruise or a mark that she could then weave into her tale.”
Jones was surprised when Parkinson’s boss – Inspector Anthony Hill – called him for a “chat”.
He was told an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) was being taken against him for abusing Parkinson, and that Insp. Hill would put up five witnesses against him if he was to fight it.
Jones returned to the home he shared with Parkinson bewildered. But his fiancée assured him the AVO was a huge misunderstanding and she would “sort it out.”
But Jones began to have other concerns.
“You’re suspecting that she might be cheating?” asked Hayes.
“Yeah, with some of the mobile phone messages, and ringing late at night.”
“I was crushed… I’d just built a house. She’d moved in with me, everything was going well, I had a good career, my dream car I always wanted.
“Everything was going right and in that instant everything just went to s—.”
Their relationship ended in November 2013.
Within days Parkinson, supported by her new policeman lover, made a series of terrible claims to police about Jones’ alleged abuse.
Jones was suddenly confronted with accusations that painted him as a monster, which included striking his fiancée with a lump of wood, a tyre lever, locking her outside of their home in the rain and urinating on her.
All of which he vehemently denied.
“You’ve come from meeting this innocent, sweet girl to this premeditated monster who is capable of making all these allegations against you without a care in the world,” he told 60 Minutes.
“She just flipped, she was like a complete stranger.”
On Christmas Eve 2013, his world fell apart.
While finishing his shift as a prison officer he was arrested in front of his colleagues and charged with 32 counts of domestic violence – including rape.
It seemed police had believed every word Parkinson told them.
Acting Sergeant Scott Corcoran – who has since left the force – was the first investigator in the case against Jones.
When Parkinson escalated her allegations to include harassment by Jones’ father, Ian, he was also served with a court order.
All the while, Parkinson was setting up her new life with her policeman lover – living in the home Jones had built.
“I was paying for a mortgage for him and his three kids to live in my house,” Jones told 60 Minutes.
Then on March 21, 2014 a posse of police officers arrived at the home to arrest Jones. He had no idea why – but he soon found out.
Parkinson had told police Dan rammed her head into a retaining wall, jumped on her, kicked her, forced her to open a condom wrapper, then violently raped her.
It was a horrific allegation that was utterly untrue.
Because at the time of the alleged assault, Jones’ sister-in-law had taken a photograph of him holding his baby nephew.
Stamped with date, time and location – it made it impossible for him to have been anywhere near Parkinson at the time she claimed he’d raped her.
Jones, a former prison officer, was sent to Australia’s toughest jail, Goulburn’s supermax, on remand, where his helplessness turned into the darkest of thoughts. He told Hayes he contemplated self-harm.
While Jones was in jail, his parents Ian and Michelle were living haunted lives outside – afraid at every step that further false allegations by Parkinson might land them in jail too.
But then, a breakthrough almost too good to be true for the Jones, who’d come to expect little independent investigation into Parkinson’s claims by police.
Detective Sergeant (then-Detective Constable) Leesa Alexander took over the case from Acting Sergeant Scott Corcoran and began to seriously scrutinise Parkinson’s allegations.
“I believed her until the evidence started to show something different,” Det. Alexander told Hayes.
“As far as I was concerned and what the evidence showed is [Jones] wasn’t responsible for any of it. It didn’t happen.”
In addition to her allegations against Jones, Parkinson claimed his family were harassing her. Claims that would eventually expose her as a serial liar.
Parkinson told Det. Alexander she was driven off the road and attacked by a man wielding a knife, a man she believed to be Jones’ father.
But Det. Alexander traced the knife back to Parkinson’s own kitchen, one of a set of six.
Parkinson also implicated the Jones family in multiple break-ins at her house. She claimed her iPad had been stolen, and that software indicated it was at the Jones’ house.
Using a police GPS tracker installed on Parkinson’s car, Det. Alexander proved Parkinson had driven to the Jones’ home and planted the iPad on their property.
“It was clear to me… that Sarah had lied.
“So I thought, if she’s lied to me, perhaps she’s lied to the earlier investigators… My blood ran cold. I was horrified that that may be the case.”
The case against Parkinson was so compelling that the Department of Public Prosecutions in the ACT called for an emergency bail hearing. The DPP, which had failed to adequately test the evidence against Jones in the sexual assault charges, now wanted him freed as soon as possible.
After four and a half months, Jones was released from supermax.
And as Liz Hayes revealed, this was not the first time Parkinson has accused an innocent man of rape.
Ten years ago, Parkinson accused Canberra man Keith Lewis of raping her and threatening to kill her and her family.
They were extraordinary allegations, because at the time Parkinson’s best friend was Lewis’ daughter Sarah.
“This is a girl I trusted my life with and why would she lie? My Dad wouldn’t do that, but why would someone lie?” an emotional Sarah told 60 Minutes.
“People at school thought for ten years that my dad was a rapist.”
Police agreed Lewis didn’t have a case to answer and he was never charged over Parkinson’s allegations.
For the last five years Parkinson has vigorously fought the charges brought against her by Det. Alexander, of falsely accusing Jones of rape and abuse.
But early this year she finally pleaded guilty – admitting to the court she’d made it all up.
She was sentenced to prison for three years and one month – at least two of those years will be spent behind bars.
“I think it’s appalling what she did. I think it’s awful that anybody could do that to another person,” Det. Alexander told Hayes.
That Parkinson was, as described in court, a pathological liar, is shocking enough.
However the Jones’ have questions about why she was not stopped by authorities earlier, and whether the DPP properly test the police evidence against Jones.
“This was a failure at every point,” said Ian Jones.
“The police, the legal profession, the judiciary, the DPP, at every single point this was a failure… catastrophic failure.”
The magistrate also acknowledged that Parkinson’s relationship with police may have emboldened her.
“Sarah, in my opinion, knew the system,” said Det. Alexander.
“There are many protections put it place for the real victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. My opinion is that Sarah knew them, and she abused them.”