Dorset

Man wrongly jailed for sex abuse describes 'living hell'

David Bryant and his wife Lynn
Image caption David Bryant spent more than two years in prison

A former firefighter said he endured a "living hell" after being wrongly convicted of sexually abusing a schoolboy.

David Bryant, 66, of Christchurch, Dorset, was jailed for six years in 2014.

The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction after it emerged the alleged victim was a "chronic liar".

Mr Bryant said the legal system was "weighted heavily against" those accused of sex abuse.

"It was a living hell... you've got to fight so hard to prove you are innocent."

'Label for life'

The former station commander said he was "completely stunned" by the allegation.

"I couldn't process it - why would anyone make these accusations? And once they're made, that's it, it's a label for life."

His wife Lynn said visiting her husband in prison was "horrendous".

"He's the kindest, kindest man - not for one minute did I doubt him.

"We were determined we were going to continue to fight."

Image copyright David Bryant
Image caption Mr Bryant had a distinguished career as a firefighter

The accusation of a serious sexual assault in the 1970s was made by a man who came forward in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Mr Bryant was released after Mr Justice Singh quashed the conviction over concerns relating to the credibility of the accuser.

"It was amazing - the feeling of being able to go out the front door and not having to ask someone if I could," said Mr Bryant.

"My life has been trying to do my best for other people - that's what the job of a fireman is. Now I've got to get back to that mindset."

In a statement, Dorset Police said it conducted "a thorough and detailed investigation" and passed the findings to prosecutors.

The Crown Prosecution Service said its decision to take the case forward was based on "sufficient evidence" and the "public interest".

It said: "However, new evidence recently came to light about the credibility of a key witness which fatally undermined the prosecution case. Based on this new evidence, we did not seek to oppose the appeal."

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