Nine men cleared of sex offences after Twitter evidence

Nine men accused of a range of sexual offences against a teenage girl have walked free from court after the cases against them were dropped.

The cases were dropped after new evidence was gleaned from Twitter.

The men, aged between 21 and 30, all from London, had been charged with 28 offences, including several rapes.

The prosecution told the Old Bailey there would be no evidence presented against them after a Twitter account used by the complainant was examined.

Prosecutor Samantha Cohen told the old Twitter account used by the complainant - a then-14-year-old girl - had been examined at "the highest level" of the Crown Prosecution Service and the police.

'Finally over'

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 - remained silent as Judge John Bevan recorded not guilty verdicts.

Speaking as he left the courtroom, Mr Sonde said: "It's just a relief that this is finally over."

Ms Cohen told the court there was "no longer a realistic prospect of conviction" after evidence "came to light through a side-wind" when they discovered that the complainant had an old Twitter account that she had not disclosed.

"The content of the archive tweets - which were not publicly available - is such as to render this a case where there is no realistic prospect of conviction," she said.

The complainant, who is now 15, had been "spoken to" and that "she understands the position" of the case, Ms Cohen said.

"Our view is that it would not be fair to the complainant in this case to say that she had failed to disclose the evidence of the account," she added.

"It is unfortunate that it has happened so late (in the case)," the judge added.

"But these are very serious matters and these have to be gone into."

The men were initially arrested in a series of dawn raids in March.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites