DNA test clears man of rape 30 years on

A PRISONER tasted freedom for the first time in nearly 30 years after a judge threw out his conviction because DNA evidence showed he did not rape an 11-year-old girl.

"It finally happened, I've been waiting," Raymond Towler (52) said as he hugged sobbing family members in the courtroom.

He walked from the courthouse in Ohio, arms around relatives, amid the smell of freshly cut grass and blooming trees. He was heading to an "everything on it" pizza party.

Asked how he would adjust, Mr Towler responded: "Just take a deep breath and just enjoy life right now."

Mr Towler had been serving a life sentence for the rape of a girl in a Cleveland park in 1981. Prosecutors received the test results on Monday and immediately asked the court to free him. Mr Towler deflected a question about demanding an apology and said he understood justice can take time.

"I think it was just a process, you know, the DNA," he said. "It just took a couple of years to get to it. We finally got to it and the job was done."

Mr Towler was cleared in a brief court hearing. Judge Eileen Gallagher also told him that he can sue over his ordeal.

"You're free," the judge said, leaving the bench to shake Mr Towler's hand and offering him a traditional Irish blessing.