How a Facebook message cleared a man on rape charges
A MAN who was wrongly jailed for rape has spoken out of the years of hell that only ended when his family managed to find deleted Facebook messages that proved his innocence.
Danny Kay, of Derby, UK, spent more than two years behind bars after police relied on an "edited and misleading" conversation between himself and his accuser - with cops now reviewing just how they got it so wrong.
Mr Kay told The Mail On Sunday he had trusted the system would find the truth after he was arrested on suspicion of rape in 2012 but was instead brought to trial and eventually convicted.
The now 26-year-old said: "Even now, with the conviction quashed, I still can't believe that it took years of pain and stress for this nightmare to end.
"And the terrifying thought is that if the police and justice system could fail me like this, it could happen to anyone."
It wasn't until his sister-in-law Sarah Maddison checked his Facebook account and was able to find the full archived conversation - which supported Mr Kay's version of events - that his appeal could be set in motion.
It comes after three high-profile rape cases collapsed in the same week, including two where bungling cops did not disclose crucial texts sent by the alleged victims.
Ms Maddison said it had taken her mere minutes to find the archived conversation, despite not being a social media expert, with surprised cops asking her: "How did you know how to find the messages and we didn't?"
Mr Kay, who had trained as a welder, said: "This isn't some small matter - this is my life and for the police not to do those basic checks is horrendous."
During the 2013 trial, the jury had been given the impression that a message from Mr Kay saying "sorry" was over the alleged rape - but the deleted messages instead showed it had been referring to the woman asking why he had been ignoring her.
Other messages proved that Mr Kay had not lied about his age, as had been presented in court.
Mr Kay had engaged in a fling with his accuser in March 2012, with the accusations brought against him six months later.
Appeal judge Mr Justice Goss said: "We have come to the conclusion that, in a case of one word against another, the full Facebook message exchange provides very cogent evidence both in relation to the truthfulness and reliability of (the woman) ... and the reliability of (Mr Kay's) account and his truthfulness."
Derbyshire Police said: "We will be reviewing our investigation to find out whether lessons can be learnt."