A RETIRED firefighter wrongly convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy has spoken out after a High Court judge raised questions over Dorset Police’s handling of the case.
David Bryant spent three years of an eight-and-a-half year sentence in prison after being convicted in 2013 but a judge has now said police should have concentrated on a blackmail note he received from his accuser instead of the allegations it contained.
The 67-year-old’s conviction was overturned in the Court of Appeal but, since his release, Mr Bryant has campaigned for an examination of the way the case was handled
Dorset Police’s failure to investigate rape complainant Danny Day has now been highlighted after a court heard Day sent a letter to Mr Bryant threatening to make him pay “one way or another.”
The threat was made some time before Day went to police and claimed he had been raped at the fire station in Christchurch in 1977. Mr Bryant’s wife Lynn, who died of sepsis just six months after her husband’s conviction was overturned, called police and told them of the posted threat. However, it has now been heard that police failed to act.
Mr Bryant told the Daily Echo: “I am pleased that we have now got this judgement. When we got the letter, my first reaction was to contact police but they dismissed it. Instead of investigating Danny Day for blackmail, they investigated me for historic sex abuse. Lynn reported this as a blackmail threat but they ignored it.”
Mr Bryant, of Grove Road East in Christchurch, said his wife fought tirelessly to clear his name but died a year ago from sepsis.
He said: “It can’t be proved that this contributed to her death but the stress certainly played a part. The judgement has been given near the anniversary of her death. She would be pleased we have finally got it.”
Mr Bryant has spent tens of thousands of pounds on the case and, in his written High Court judgement, Master Gary Thornett ordered Day to pay an interim payment of £20,000 towards the costs.
Master Thornett said of the letter: “This would not strike any reasonable person as anything other than a blackmail note. It is clearly threatening.”
Mr Bryant was released after it emerged Day allegedly sought medical help for lying.
A Dorset Police spokesman said: “Dorset Police takes any allegations of sexual abuse very seriously and conducted a thorough and detailed investigation. Mr Bryant’s case was heard by a jury who reached a guilty verdict. The Force has deep sympathy for Mr Bryant and his family who have endured his imprisonment for a conviction that has been found to be unsafe.”