World News

Fourth rape case in a month collapses

Fourth rape case in a month collapses

Oliver Mears, 19, was told he was to be found not guilty following a review of evidence just days before he was due to go on trial.

Mr Mears, from Horley, Surrey, appeared at Guildford crown court in August past year where he enter pleas of not guilty. "We therefore made a decision to offer no evidence", a CPS spokesman said.

The Metropolitan Police previously announced a review of all live child abuse and sexual offences after two rape cases it investigated collapsed within a week in December.

It comes as Britain's top prosecutor claimed no innocent people are in jail as a result of failures to disclose crucial evidence.

The judge criticised "unnecessary delays" in the case, which Mr Mears and the complainant had "hanging over their heads" for two years.

On Thursday, Judge Jonathan Black ordered the prosecution to send someone to outline on what basis the case had been dropped.

Prosecutor Sarah Lindop told Guildford Crown Court on Friday that the case was "finely balanced" from the start and the new material "tips the balance" in favour of Mr Mears.

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Recording not guilty verdicts for rape and sexual assault by penetration - which the teenager had always denied - Judge Black ordered the CPS to provide a full explanation of what happened within 28 days.

The court heard Mr Mears's lawyers asked to see the full diary in October a year ago and the prosecutor explained: "The police have been trying to secure that". More than two years later his undergraduate career, studying chemistry at St Hugh's College, Oxford - Theresa May's alma mater - is on hold and he has shrunk physically, according to an informed source. The problem we have found recently is around the ever-increasing use of social media, all the digital material we obtain'.

Surrey Police said the case was dropped for "a number of reasons", only one of which related to the force.

But critics condemned her as "complacent" after it emerged that police and prosecutors have failed to hand over texts and photos to defence lawyers in trials.

"Following a review of this case, prosecutors were not satisfied there was a realistic prospect of conviction".

A report issued in July by HM CPS Inspectorate and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said even unused items of evidence must be reviewed by police "to see whether it is capable of undermining the prosecution case or assisting the defence case" and passed on.


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