A man jailed for three years for a string of sex offences against a schoolgirl has had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Kenneth Williams was found guilty of offences against a child under the age of 14 last year.
But lawyers asked for the verdict to be overturned and argued that Williams was denied a fair hearing because his trial was plagued by delays and dragged on for almost two years.
Appeals Judge Sir Maurice Kay ruled last Friday: “This appeal is allowed. We quash the convictions and direct verdicts of acquittal.
“This means that there will be no retrial.”
He added: “Our reasons will be provided in writing in due course.”
An appeal was launched in the Supreme Court just after Williams was jailed last May.
But the it was rejected because Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams found that Williams’ lawyer was responsible for many of the delays.
But lawyers for Williams took the case to the Court of Appeal.
Jerome Lynch QC listed a catalogue of errors that had delayed the proceedings unnecessarily at a hearing on Wednesday.
He highlighted that it took months for a single witness to give just a few hours of testimony – because not enough time was set aside for a witness to give evidence in one sitting.
Mr Lynch said: “If the trial takes that long and is truncated in that way it clearly creates prejudice to a defendant.
“The right to have a trial in a reasonable amount of time is a basic cardinal right that should not be abrogated by technical difficulties, a failure to list the case for a proper amount of time, in chunks of time.”
During the trial – which began in August 2017 but did not conclude until May 2019 – the alleged victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said Williams had touched her in a sexual way several times over several years.
Williams denied all of the offences and claimed he was busy looking for employment in 2014, when the earliest offences were claimed to have happened and was busy at work when further alleged offences were said to have happened in 2015.
Williams told the trial that the victim was motivated to make the allegations after he broke a promise to hold a birthday party for her and also alleged she had stolen money from her mother.