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Prison officer freed after appeal

A prison officer jailed for six years for raping an inmate has been freed on appeal.

Gerrard Toohey, 41, who worked at HMP Manchester, was convicted at Manchester Crown Court in February 2002.

But judges at the Court of Appeal said new evidence from his colleagues made the inmate's account of the alleged attack "virtually impossible".   Had the jury heard this evidence, the court heard, his defence would have been "considerably strengthened".

The senior officer on duty at the time of the alleged incident said on Monday inmates were so well supervised it would have been impossible for Mr Toohey to "wander off" without colleagues "instantly noticing".   Lord Justice Dyson said that the "most likely explanation" why the fresh evidence had only now emerged was that Mr Toohey's lawyers had "overlooked the significance of this line of inquiry" amongst the "morass of detail" surrounding the case.

Before the Monday's appeal, no witness statements had been taken from other officers on duty on the night of the alleged attack.   Declaring Mr Toohey's rape conviction "unsafe", the judge rejected an application for a retrial enabling him to be freed immediately.

Source: BBC News


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