A man who spent two years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit was only freed when his family found deleted Facebook messages that proved his innocence.
Danny Kay was convicted of rape after prosecutors used an ‘edited and misleading’ conversation between him and his accuser.
Police are now reviewing how they overlooked the deleted messages which could have saved him losing years of his life.
It comes after three rape cases collapsed in one week, including two where crucial evidence was only disclosed in court.
The 26-year-old told The Mail on Sunday how he thought police would clear his name after he was arrested on suspicion of rape in 2012.
But the crucial evidence was not found and he was instead brought to trial and eventually convicted.
He 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.’
Mr Kay’s sister-in-law Sarah Maddison eventually found an archived conversation on his Facebook account which supported his version of events.
This set the ball rolling on Mr Kay’s appeal.
Ms Maddison reportedly said she found the conservation in minutes, with baffled police asking her: ‘How did you know how to find the messages and we didn’t?’
Mr Kay added: ‘This isn’t some small matter, this is my life and for the police not to do those basic checks is horrendous.’
During his trial in 2013, the jury were made to think that him saying ‘sorry’ was over the alleged rape.
But messages had been deleted which showed he was in fact apologising for ignoring her.
Mr Kay was accused of rape six months after he had a fling with his accuser in March 2012.
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.’
Derbyshire Police said: ‘We will be reviewing our investigation to find out whether lessons can be learnt.’
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