The Daily Mail inexplicably jumped the gun and wrongly announced that Amanda Knox was found guilty in her appeal against the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.
The article, which appeared online at 8.50pm UK time and was still available 25 minutes later, stated that Amanda Knox’s appeal against her conviction had been rejected by the Italian court of six jurors and two judges.
The story included completely fabricated “reactions” from prosecutors, Amanda Knox herself and the Kercher family. Prosecutors were said to be delighted with the news that Knox would be returning to jail.
DailyMail.co.uk’s extraordinary article also stated that her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, was to also remain in jail for the remainder of his original 25 year sentence. He was also released and found not guilty murder.
The article, which was acompanied by the headline “Guilty: Amanda Knox looks stunned as appeal against murder conviction is rejected”, read:
Amanda Knox looked stunned this evening after she dramatically lost her prison appeal against her murder conviction.
Knox, 24, and her family had high hopes that she would be freed and allowed to return home after spending the last four years behind bars for the killing of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in 2007.
In December 2009 she had been sentenced to 26 years and last night the judge and jury agreed with prosecutors that she should remain in prison as they accepted that she had brutally murdered student Meredith.
The 21-year-old was found semi naked in a pool of blood with her throat slashed in her bedroom of the house she shared with American Knox and two Italian women.
Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman also ruled that Raffaele Sollecito, 27, Knox’s former boyfriend, should remain in jail and confirmed the original 25-year sentence on the computer studies graduate.
As Knox realised the enormity of what judge Hellman was saying she sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears.
A few feet away Meredith’s mother Arline, her sister Stephanie and brother Lyle, who had flown in especially for the verdict remained expressionless, staring straight ahead, glancing over just once at the distraught Knox family.
Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said that ‘justice has been done’ although they said on a ‘human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail’.
Both Knox and Sollecito – who have always denied any involvement in the brutal murder – said they would take the case to the third and final level of appeal at the Supreme Court in Rome where it will probably be heard late next year.
The ten-month appeal hearing had heard from several witnesses who had given evidence in the first trial but most importantly from two independent court appointed DNA experts.
Professors Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti had been asked to evaluate how the original DNA investigation had been carried out by the forensic police and highlighted several howling errors.
Key to the case had been a 12ins kitchen knife found at Sollecito’s apartment and on which was said to be DNA from Knox on the handle and that of Meredith on the blade.
But they had insisted the genetic evidence from Knox was so small it should not be used as conclusive proof against her – although they did admit it was her DNA on the handle.
Following the verdict Knox and Sollecito were taken out of court escorted by prison guards and into a waiting van which took her back to her cell at Capanne jail near Perugia and him to Terni jail, 60 miles away.
Both will be put on a suicide watch for the next few days as psychological assessments are made on each of them but this is usual practice for long term prisoners.
It later emerged that The Sun newspaper made a similar gaff, though they were quicker to rectify the mistake.
It is thought the Judge’s initial announcement that Knox was guilty of the lesser-crime, the defamation charge against the man she had accused of murdering Meredith Kercher, had caught out many trigger-happy online journalists.