There are few things more alarming than the prospect of being accused of a crime you didn’t commit. Especially if that crime happens to be as serious and undeniably traumatic as rape or sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, false rape claims can and do happen. And when they do happen, they understandably have a devastating impact on the lives of the falsely accused suspects.
Some falsely accused victims will spend years or decades even, sitting in a prison cell because of one malicious and entirely untrue lie.
That’s why an increasing number of people are arguing that rape suspects should be able to retain anonymity when going through trial. Learn more about what anonymity could do for an innocent person accused of rape in the video below:
Twenty-six-year-old Danny Kay is an example of a young man who spent a whole two years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. He was only freed when his family discovered deleted Facebook messages which proved his innocence.
Kay, who is from Derby in England, was accused of the attack six months after he had a fling with the accuser in March 2012.
Kay was then arrested on suspicion of rape but felt sure that, as an innocent man, his name would soon be cleared. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen – at least not straight away. Ultimately, he was convicted in 2013 despite his consistent protestations of innocence.
Two years later, the evidence (a series of Facebook messages) which led to his conviction was later reviewed for being “edited” and “misleading”.
The Facebook messages appeared to show Kay apologizing for the sexual encounter as though it was without the accuser’s consent.
So the jury had no difficulties believing that Kay was guilty of the crime.
However, when Kay’s family presented the police with the deleted Facebook messages, it emerged that the accuser had selectively deleted certain messages in order to prove that she was a victim at the hands of Kay.
The messages that had been deleted showed that he was actually apologizing for ignoring her and not for coercing her into sex.
At the trial, his accuser also claimed there had been little contact between them after the sexual encounter. However, the full and unedited Facebook conversation proved that in actual fact there was a great deal of contact between the pair and that there was consent on both sides.
Police are currently reviewing how they managed to overlook the deleted messages which would have been crucial in proving Kay’s innocence during the trial.
“Even now, with the conviction quashed, I still can’t believe that it took years of pain and stress for this nightmare to end,” Kay said.
“And the terrifying thought is that if the police and justice system could fail me like this, it could happen to anyone.”
It was Kay’s sister-in-law, Sarah Maddison, who found the deleted messages. She discovered an archived conversation on his Facebook account proving his innocence.
“I couldn’t believe how easy it was to find the messages,” Maddison told the Daily Mail. “I am no social media expert,” but “it only took me a minute to find them, so how trained police couldn’t is beyond me.”
When the evidence was presented to the police, they reportedly responded by asking “How did you know how to find the messages and we didn’t?”
With this new evidence, an appeal could now be set in motion.
“This isn’t some small matter, this is my life and for the police not to do those basic checks is horrendous,” Kay added.
Ultimately, England’s Court of Appeal in London ruled that the police relied on an “edited and misleading” Facebook conversation.
“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,” the appeal judge Mr. Justice Goss stated.
As a result of the whole debacle, the Derbyshire Police have stated that they will be “reviewing our investigation to find out whether lessons can be learned.”
It is nothing short of awful that an innocent man was even convicted in the first place, especially considering the crucial evidence was so easy to access.
Hopefully, the Derbyshire Police really have learned their lesson and will review their evidence a lot more carefully in future.