Nine men accused of sex attacks over six months on a 14-year-old girl walked free from the Old Bailey today.
The case collapsed when police discovered the contents of the alleged victim’s old Twitter account.
Just 48 hours after the outcry over the failed prosecution of the Coronation Street star Michael Le Vell, senior prosecutors decided to drop the case, which centred on Newham, east London. After consultations with senior Scotland Yard officers it was unanimously decided there was “no realistic prospect of conviction” on any of the 28 charges.
The alleged victim, now 15, made a statement to the police in November last year detailing horrifying sex attacks, mostly rapes, stretching back to May 2012.
The men – Desmond Agyei, 23, Edward Kofi Edunya, 23, Perry Murray, 24, David Sarpong, 23, Adedeji Atitebi, 21, Austin Odisi, 24, Justin Maynard, 23, Olanrewaju Sonde, 24 and Thamsanqa Sibanda, 30 – had originally been charged with 28 offences. The men were arrested in dawn raids and initially remanded in custody, although some were later granted bail.
They had been due to stand trial last week but at the last moment the prosecution revealed that the Twitter account had come to light.
Judge John Bevan QC adjourned the case until today and granted all the defendants bail.
Today, Samantha Cohen, prosecuting, told the court: “A review of the Twitter material has been conducted at the highest level at the Crown Prosecution Service and the police in conjunction with trial counsel.
“The unanimous conclusion is that there is no realistic prospect of conviction in respect of any defendant on any of the counts. For that reason the Crown is offering no evidence across the board in this case.”
The judge entered not guilty verdicts on all the charges and discharged the defendants from the dock.
“It is obvious that the case has been considered with great care and it’s unfortunate that this has happened so late and that the defendants have been in custody,” he said.
“But these are very serious matters that have to be gone into and matters have to be reviewed consistently.”