A teenager who lost his job and spent three months in jail after being falsely accused of rape is planning to sue after police failed to disclose messages sent by his accuser which proved his innocence.
Connor Fitzgerald, 19, had all charges against him dropped after texts sent by the woman were found saying how the sex was consensual. He had been accused of raping a woman following a night out in June 2016.
Another message sent by the woman said: "I'm not just going to mess up his life, I'm going to ruin it" after the pair stopped seeing each other.
Following his arrest, Fitzgerald was denied bail and spent three months in custody at the Category B HMP High Down in Banstead, Surrey, awaiting his court appearance.
The case was eventually dismissed after Fitzgerald's brother recovered some of the messages via the defendant's iCloud account.
Fitzgerald, who plans to sue the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after his case was thrown out in Croydon Crown Court, told the Sun: "I feel ashamed even though I've not done anything. It's nasty.
"I honestly think that if my brother hadn't found those texts and made the CPS aware, I would have ended up in prison for 12 years or more.
"The police are not securing enough rape convictions and because of that they are far too keen to go ahead with prosecutions that are flimsy at most."
The case echoes that of 22-year-old Liam Allan who was cleared of raping a woman after it emerged that the woman's phone records, which police had refused to hand over, contained tens of thousands of messages, some of which proved his innocence.
The CPS and Met Police apologised to Allan and promised they would carry out an "urgent review and learn lessons" in the wake of the incident.
They then said that all active rape and serious sexual offence cases – some 600 - would be reviewed.
A CPS spokesman said of the Fitzgerald acquittal: "This case was charged in accordance with the Threshold Test, which is applied in serious cases where further evidence is expected to become available within a reasonable period.
"A decision to charge under the Threshold Test must be kept under review, and prosecutors are required to take account of any change in circumstances as a case develops.
"In January 2018, police provided more material in this case. Upon review of that material, it was decided that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.
"We therefore decided to offer no evidence at a hearing at Croydon Crown Court on 22 January."
A Met Police spokesperson added: "We are content with the investigation and our disclosure work, which was conducted in liaison with the CPS.
"During the course of the hearing there was no adverse comment from the judge about the police investigation."