Man died of drugs overdose 17 years after being jailed for Edinburgh rape he didn't commit

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A man has died of a drugs overdose 17 years after being jailed for an Edinburgh rape he did not commit, an inquest heard.

Desmond Dinnell’s aunt Angie told a coroner in Nottingham: “It messed up his life and he was innocent.

Desmond Dinnell served 30 months in jail.

Desmond Dinnell served 30 months in jail.

“Being in prison as a sex offender, he lost his wife and son. He lost everything and turned to drugs to cope.

“He came out of prison and obviously the case was still going on to clear his name.

“The Scottish Government has been slow in paying compensation. That put a lot of stress on him.”

Mr Dinnell, who was 44 when he died in April this year, was convicted of raping a drunk schoolgirl he found collapsed in a puddle outside the former Sunblest bakery in Lochend Road.

The 15-year-old and her boyfriend both went to his flat and later claimed he had assaulted her in a bedroom.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh believed their evidence and Mr Dinnell was found guilty and jailed for six years in 2002.

But he was freed after 30 months behind bars when the conviction was judged to be unsafe. And in 2009 his conviction was quashed after a DNA breakthrough proved he was not guilty.

Mr Dinnell – who turned to drugs while in prison – moved to Nottingham but often stayed in Spain, where he planned to move permanently.

He was found dead in his flat and tests showed a mixture of drugs in his body, including cocaine and morphine.

Police launched a major investigation after finding a note beside his body reading: “All right Bro, put you in a recovery position. You will be OK. Gazza and Mark.”

Nottinghamshire’s senior coroner Mairin Casey ruled his death was drug-related.

Referring to Mr Dinnell’s wrongful conviction, she told his aunt: “That makes the case even more tragic.”

After the hearing, Miss Dinnell said: “That messed up his life in Scotland.

“He was lovely, fun-loving and was planning to move to Spain.”

On her mobile phone, she has a video of him telling her: “Love you. Always will.”

His conviction was set aside by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, after judges studied DNA evidence.

That prompted a fresh legal fight to win compensation for a miscarriage of justice and later backed by a judicial review despite a number of legal attempts to prevent making a payout.