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Fact or fantasy?

The case of David Bryant highlights the dangers of uncorroborated victim testimony in historic sex offences, write Rupert Butler and Rachael Earle

29 September 2016

On 20 July 2016 the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of David Bryant, a retired decorated fire officer, two and a half years into an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence for buggery of a boy in the 1970s. While Mr Bryant’s remarkable tale has a happy ending, his case shines a disturbing light on the incompetence of our criminal justice system to sift fact from fantasy during shoot-outs between alleged victims and perpetrators following an uncorroborated complaint of historic sex abuse.In October 2012 David and Lynn Bryant were at home in Christchurch when a handwritten note was dropped through their letterbox making an unspecified allegation about an event in 1976. It had all the hallmarks of blackmail and so they called the Dorset Police for help.

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