A man wrongly accused by the police of creating and storing images of child abuse says police need lessons in gay terminology to prevent ‘ruining more lives’.

Last month, Mike Whitla from Bangor was found not guilty of 15 charges brought against him by the police.

After a forensic investigator completed an in depth search of his computer and discovered he could not be guilty, the prosecution failed to offer any further evidence against him, leaving the judge with no choice but to direct the jury to return a not guilty verdict on each charge.

He has since revealed how he was ‘suspended from his job working with vulnerable children, forced to come out as a gay man and abandoned by almost all of his friends.’

The social worker told The Daily Mirror, “I was able to prove I’d done nothing, but my life is still in tatters and somehow I’ll have to rebuild it.”

After his experience, he says he wants other people to know how he fell ‘foul of the law despite doing nothing wrong.’

Mike was arrested and charged at Bangor PSNI station with making and storing 71 images of children, ranging in seriousness.

However, when Mike was shown the images, he realised they were completely innocent – as they were all of ‘twinks’.

As The Mirror explains: ‘The word twink is used in gay lingo to refer to a young man aged between 18 and early 20s who has certain characteristics such as an effeminate manner, a slim build and no body or facial hair, which all contribute to a youthful look.’

Mike said: “I’d never seen it before but it was a twink, that’s gay slang for a feminine looking man over 18. The officers hadn’t a clue what I was talking about.

“I said he looked about 24 and they laughed. They said the picture was of a 13-year-old boy and that I was going court where the jury would agree he was a child.”

After he was released on bail, Mike decided to seek help from The Rainbow Project, a charity that works to improve the physical, mental & emotional health of LGBT people and their families in Northern Ireland.

“They were amazing and said they would support me all the way,” Mike said.

“While my solicitor got a forensic computer expert to analyse the police evidence, the Rainbow Project set up a presentation for my solicitor and barrister to explain the sort of language used in the gay scene including twink.

“I think if one of the officers who arrested me had been a gay man, I’d never have been put through this nightmare but they live in a different social world to me.”

The forensic computer expert discovered that all of the 71 images found in the police search were in fact ads featuring men aged 18 and over.

He also revealed that Mike had neither searched for the images, uploaded, seen them or knowingly stored them. On April 28, the jury delivered not guilty verdicts on each of the 15 sample charges of possessing indecent images.

However, Mike says his life cannot return to normal.

So I was innocent, I was free and I could walk out of court and get on with my life, but I felt ruined.

“I still support rigorous police investigations and I really can’t complain about the PSNI doing their job in the interests of child safety.

“But they need to be educated about gay communities and the language we use. It could have prevented my ruination and saved them an awful lot of time, effort and money taking an innocent man to court.”

A parliamentary candidate in Northern Ireland recently claimed to have “proof” that gay people are 40 times more likely to abuse children than the general population.