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Magpie

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Reply with quote  #76 

Lord Lane - the Lord Chief Justice 1980 - 92

Most prisoners who claimed to be victims of miscarriage of justice during the eighties had reason to hate Lord Lane.

But should we have sympathy for this short, quiet-spoken, even reformist judge, even though he dismissed appeals without a thought about justice, and abused the powers of his office beyond belief?

History dealt Lord Lane a bad hand. During his period in office he was hit by two major problems for which his background and judicial education left him totally unprepared. On the one hand the many mistakes and corrupt practices in the police forces around the country were resulting in a large number of miscarriage of justice cases. Publicity of these in programmes such as "Rough Justice" threatened, as Lord Denning said, to tear down the fabric of the nation's judicial system.

On the other hand. Lord Lane saw in Margaret Thatcher's moves to reform the system of justice, the most serious threat to the independence of the judiciary since the seventeenth century.

He was caught in a vice - and from time to time he squealed. He did not like television. He did not like journalists. He was against allowing cameras into the Courts and never gave interviews. This may have stemmed from the fact that he had been the junior counsel prosecuting James Hanratty for murder. In 1962, Hanratty was hung and the press never let the system forget it. Over the years masses of evidence has been produced to suggest there was a serious miscarriage of justice - perpetrated in part by young Geoffrey Lane.

Lord Lane's most famous remarks live with him in his retirement. When he dismissed the appeal of the Birmingham Six in 1988, Lord Lane and his fellow judges said "the longer this hearing goes on, the more convinced this court has become that the verdict of the jury was correct". The Birmingham Six were released nevertheless - and there were calls for Lord Lane's resignation. Critics said he tended to misjudge new evidence.

A typical example of this came up in the appeal of Anthony Mycock - the appeal at which Lord Lane determined to kill off Peter Hill and Martin Young and the whole "Rough Justice" programme.

Lord Lane's bouts of fury were also turned upon the government. He tirelessly defended the Bar Association. He campaigned vigorously against the Thatcher government's plans to abolish some of the legal profession's restrictive practices. Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor, felt the wrath of Lane. During the House of Lords debate on this bill, Lord Lane said " if those responsible for drafting the paper on the organisation of the profession had seen fit to consult the judges.. before proposing to disembowel the system.."

Strong words - but Lord Mackay simply published a letter to him from Lord Lane in which the noble judge specifically asked that he should not be consulted.

This debate also provided another fitting quotation from this enigmatic judge. He said " Oppression does not stand on the doorstep with a toothbrush moustache and a swastika armband.. it creeps up insidiously, step by step, until all of a sudden the unfortunate citizens realise freedom has gone."

He was clearly referring to the Thatcher government - and the phrase was the final nail in his coffin.

However, it was to Lord Lane that many unfortunate citizens looked when their freedom was unjustly taken from them - and they got little sympathy from him.

Ernie Clarke, for example. He was a black man who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime he clearly had not done. Lord Lane did not take this case himself. - he assigned his friend Lord Justice Lawton to it. Lord Lawton had been a blackshirt in the thirties and held strong views on justice......

Lord Lane made many enemies. He appeared increasingly beleaguered as he moved towards the judicial retirement age of seventy-five. But he was determined to show the world that an independent judiciary was not to be pushed around by politicians and the press. The collective sigh of relief that could be heard when he went - and Lord Taylor took over - demonstrated that Lord Lane had actually brought the Court of Appeal into disrepute - far more than the journalists and solicitors who worked on miscarriage of justice cases.

Anthony Steel's first appeal came up before Lord Lane because of the intricacy of the argument about who had actually killed Carol Wilkinson - remember a doctor turned off the life support machine and she then died.

One of the more interesting parts of the appeal concerned a quotation from the judge at the trial. The judge referred to the fact that Steel denied the truth of the "confession". The trial judge told the jury:

"It is right to say that if what he says is true, well then there has been a most shocking and cynical conspiracy against him, a dreadful thing. .... It is said that those six policemen, or at least some of them, have banded together to extract from a false statement which amounts to an admission of a most serious crime."

This, Steel's lawyers said, was a clear indication that the jury should find Steel's story about the police conduct unbelievable - because the conduct he described was so illegal as to be incredible.

At Steel's appeal Lord Lane would have none of that. He was the policeman's friend, particularly in miscarriage of justice cases. In 1966 he had represented the Metropolitan Police in the inquiry into the wrongful execution of Timothy Evans. This was another classic case of miscarriage of justice - when the police had completely failed to spot the obvious , that Christie was the murderer and Evans, the simple-minded tool. Since then he had manfully defended the police at every turn - particularly when their reputation was sullied by evidence in the Court of Appeal.

Steel's case was a confession case. He was interrogated over 36 hours. He kept asking for a solicitor. He signed a confession because he was promised a solicitor if he did so. Even after the signed confession - when there was enough to charge him - the police continued to interrogate him. All without allowing him a solicitor.

He would have got little sympathy for his plight from Lord Lane. In R. v. Alladice, Lord Lane said that even if access to a solicitor had been unlawfully denied, this was not, in itself, enough to make a confession inadmissible in court. This, and another such pronouncement a few months later, effectively removed the main sanction against police officers who break the law - the threat that illegally obtained evidence will not be heard by a jury.

If you wish to learn more about Lord Lane, click here where you can download a long report on a scandalous affair.

This is the story of how the Lord Chief Chief Justice Lord Lane in 1985 used foul means in an attempt to stop a campaigning BBC programme series and the scandalous manner in which the BBC responded.

 

 


 

Magpie

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Reply with quote  #77 

The NobileOfficium is a special power of the highest criminal court in Scotland (the HighCourtOfJusticiary?), which enables it to do just about anything it wants in the interests of justice. It can be used to correct miscarriages of justice when the standard procedures (eg those laid down in an act of Parliament or established by custom in the courts) don't deliver justice. For this reason, it's usually seen as a form of equity jurisdiction (as in Dickens, Bleak House), but don't let that put you off!

When can the Nobile Officium power be used

The problem with the Nobile Officium isn't that it's restricted in what it can be used for, but that the High Court itself will not make use of its powers under the Nobile Officium except in very rare circumstances. There's a good summary in a previous case of what the NobileOfficium power of the court can be successfully used for. The case is Mathieson, Petitioner (reference 1980 SLT 74):

... the power ... will be exercised to avoid possible miscarriage of justice or to cure a miscarriage of justice in circumstances which are both extraordinary and unforeseen provided that to exercise the power would not defeat the intention of Parliament as that intention may appear in public general statutes.

So there's a three-fold test before you've got any chance with the NobileOfficium:

  1. there's been a miscarriage of justice or the possibility of one if the High Court doesn't intervene;
  2. the circumstances are extraordinary and unforeseen;
  3. the intervention won't cut across or override anything in an act of Parliament.

What's the procedure for using the Nobile Officium

Assuming you've got a good case and aren't phased by the funny language, here's how you go about using the Nobile Officium.

  1. send a petition to the High Court (see below)
  2. send £53 fee to the High Court (you're unlikely to get it back)
  3. judge issues warrant for service (this means you've passed the first hurdle, and a judge has decided to fix a hearing for the petition; you will be required to serve the petition on the other party, probably the Crown Office, the High Court will explain how this is done if you get this far)
  4. argue your case at a hearing in the High Court (Appeal Court) in Edinburgh
mactheknife

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Reply with quote  #78 

The Secretary of State for Scotland, the Rt Hon Donald Dewar MP, has today referred the case of John McIntosh McLay (or McKay) to the High Court of Justiciary under section 124 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.

Mr McLay’s agent has been informed that the case has been referred to the High Court. The Secretary of State has concluded, following the recent commencement of Section 17 of the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Act 1997, that the Court of Appeal should have the opportunity to consider again the issues which were raised at Mr McLay’s appeal in February 1994 (McLay v HM Advocate, 1994 SCCR 397).

As the case is sub judice, the Secretary of State will not be making any further comment.

BACKGROUND

1. John McIntosh McLay (or McKay)

John McIntosh McLay (or McKay) was convicted of murder at the High Court in Glasgow on 25 June 1992. His appeal was dismissed on 25 March 1994.

2. The Secretary of State’s powers

The Secretary of State has power under section 124 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to refer cases to the Court of Appeal for review of conviction or sentence.

A referred case will be heard in the same way as any other appeal.

The criteria which the Secretary of State presently applies when assessing cases alleging a miscarriage of justice are:

- whether the petition submitted, or information obtained in the course of examination or investigation of the petition, contains material relevant to the conviction which suggests that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred; and

- if so, whether the Court of Appeal would as a matter of law entertain the case on a reference.

3. Section 17 of the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Act 1997

Section 17 of the 1997 Act amends Section 106(3) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 by extending the criteria on which a person may bring under review of the High Court any alleged miscarriage of justice. Inter alia it allows the Court of Appeal to admit evidence which was not admissible at the time of the original proceedings but would be admissible at the time of the appeal, if it appears that this would be in the interests of justice.

4. Previous referrals

Eighteen individuals have previously had their cases referred to the Court of Appeal since 1928, when the arrangements for the involvement of the Secretary of State were first introduced. Twelve of these referrals were made since 1987.

The most recent previous referrals by the Secretary of State were the cases of Thomas Campbell and Joseph Steele which were referred to the Court of Appeal in August 1996, the case of Alexander Hall which was referred in February 1997, and the case of Ronald Stobo which was referred in September 1997.


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Reply with quote  #79 

By JKane6364:

 

HI  thought id just write to say in regard to miscarriage of justice, i noticed that on the question time at the scottish parliament an msp asked if anyone has ever did a survey of miscarriage of justice victims to see what effect it has on their lives. the straight answer from the justice minister was no.

 

got to ask why???? then again i was discussing a miscarriage of justice with an MSP and was told "whats a week in the jail worth? £50 or £100, it will cost a lot more to sue". says it all.....I think someone should do that survey 


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Executive to bail out miscarriage of justice campaign
By Liam McDougall, Home Affairs Editor
 
THE Scottish Executive has agreed to fund a group formed to assist victims of miscarriages of justice.

Justice minister Cathy Jamieson pledged annual funding of £50,000 to help the advocacy body continue highlighting cases of people wrongly jailed for crimes.

The move comes just weeks before workers at the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo) Scotland would have been forced to wind up the cash-strapped voluntary group.

Mojo, founded by Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, had threatened a high-profile press conference with miscarriage of justice victim Robert Brown if the cash was refused.

The Executive’s commitment to supporting those wrongly convicted by the courts would have been questioned at the conference.

Last night, news of the funding, which will initially be for two years, was welcomed by the group as “an important first step”. It will be used to set up a freephone helpline and help provide advice and counselling.

But the group also said it wanted to raise funds to create a retreat where the psychological effects of those wrongly imprisoned could be addressed.

John McManus, of Mojo, said: “This funding will allow us to continue to help individuals back into society. But this is only the first step in the process. It will help us to seek alternative ways to raise funds to set up a retreat for an aftercare counselling programme.”

He added: “We were weeks away from folding and we were going to go public and pull the plug on ourselves. This money is a massive step forward.”

Hill, who spent 16 years in jail after being wrongly convicted of the IRA bombings on two Birmingham pubs in November 1974 in which killed 21 people, said he was “delighted” by the news. But he criticised the Westminster government’s failure to fund Mojo south of the Border.

Pauline McNeill MSP, Justice 1 committee convener and a Mojo supporter, said the funding was “a victory for Mojo and for the Scottish parliament”.

Jamieson said: “In 1999 we set up a Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission which now refers relevant cases to the Court of Appeal. But the toll taken on victims of a miscarriage of justice is not simply erased by any compensation they may ultimately receive.”

She said the Executive had to “acknowledge a gap in provision” for those who have been wrongly jailed.

 

Mojo has been instrumental in campaigning against several miscarriage cases including Robert Brown, Tommy Campbell and the former police officer Shirley McKie.

 

13 March 2005

Sunday Herald

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Free at last - and on your own

What happens when miscarriage of justice victims get out of prison? Is the criminal justice system too embarassed by its mistakes to deal with the wrongly convicted decently?

The Observer Crime and Justice debate


Paul Donovan
Sunday August 11, 2002


It must be a perplexing experience to be cleared of a crime you did not commit. First, the individual is taken from the solitude of the prison cell to endure a brief moment of media fame. But then they are quickly returned to a different type of a solitude: life beyond the prison wall. Take the case of Frank Johnson, cleared recently by the Court of Appeal had cleared Frank Johnson of a murder he was supposed to have committed some 26 years ago he was literally shoved out onto the streets. As he emerged blinking into the light outside Swaleside Prison in Kent the only thing that Johnson had to show for more than a quarter of a century behind bars was a plastic bag full of his belongings and £40 from the prison service.

A quarter of a century is a long time to be locked away. Remember, when Johnson first went into prison the Bay City Rollers were top of the charts and Harold Wilson was Prime Minister. Of course, Johnson follows a long line of innocent people to be released from behind bars over recent years. While it is now more than a decade since the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four were released but little has changed in terms of providing support structures for such people whose psychological state was likened by one consultant to the victims of war atrocities.

For Johnson life would have been made much easier on his return to society had he actually committed the crime. There would have been careful preparation made for his release which would have come much earlier courtesy of the parole board.

By insisting on his innocence all of these years Johnson finished up serving six years longer than was on his original tariff. "Guilty prisoners get trips out into the community to prepare for their return to society,"said Harry Fletcher, the assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers. "There would have been training in social skills, information about the outside economy, teaching about cooking, cleaning and general survival. All in all there would have been preparation for a life where the door was not bolted at night."

Because Johnson was innocent he received none of these things. Instead he serve more time than a guilty man and was then put out onto the street to fend for himself - an embarrasment to a system that would rather not admit it makes mistakes.

In the event Johnson was met as he left the prison by Billy Power and has been living with the former Birmingham Six member and his wife Nora ever since. Billy has campaigned for Johnson's exoneratioin and release since the two were together in prison.

"You have to ask why if you are an innocent person in prison, life is that much harder than if you are guilty. If you insist on your innocence they treat you as being in denial. If you are guilty they let you out and there are various support processes put in place" said Power. "What people need after a successful appeal is help with signing on for benefits, getting registered with the doctor, opening a bank account and dealing with housing needs. Then there is the question of the psychological damage done to innocent prisoners who have done long periods inside."

There have now been a steady stream of innocent prisoners coming through the doors of the Court of Appeal over the past 13 years yet all seem to have been treated in the same shabby way.

Two early miscarriage of justice victims were Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four and Judy Ward, who was cleared of the M62 coach bombing after 18 years. Both spent their first few months of freedom staying at solicitor Gareth Peirce's house. "They gave me £35, a handwritten note to produce at the DSS and threw me on the street," recalled Ms Ward.

When Ms Ward wanted a morgage the lender wanted to know where she had been for the previous three years and before that. "I would never have got a mortgage but for the estate agent who knew my situation and took a personal interest. If he had not given his backing to my application there would have been no mortgage," said Ms Ward.

People who have been incarcerated for many years find the most basic of tasks difficult to comprehend. "All the prisoners found traffic difficult to cope with and needed help crossing the road," recalled veteran campaigner Paul May who was chair of the Birmingham Six and Bridgewater Four campaigns."Yet no one at the Home Office ever asks released innocent prisoners if they have anywhere to go the night they are released."

A consultant who examined the Birmingham Six likened their psychological state to that of victims of war atrocities who need to relearn the skills they acquired in childhood. Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six has described in graphic details the difficulties of the innocent prisoner coming out into the world outside. Hill has testified that he feels more common ground with prisoners inside."I've probably spent half of my time out here wishing that I'd never come out of jail. I don't feel a part of it," said Hill.

Hill has set up the Miscarriage of Justice Organisation (MOJO, http://www.mojuk.org.uk) which campaigns to free innocent prisoners inside but also provides support for those prisoners once they are released. However, when the Home Office recently considered who should win the contract to run a pilot scheme to provide a national expert advice and counselling service for miscarriage of justice victims MOJO lost out. The working group recommended instead that the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaus should be invited to deliver the service for a pilot period of 12 months with a view to continuing on afterwards.

Paddy Hill was disgusted with the decision. "What do the Citizen's Advice Bureaux know about prisoners. This is just so typical of the way the government works, putting someone in charge who knows nothing about the subject," said Hill.

Fletcher was also surprised that the NACAB had won the work. "This is highly specialised work reintegrating people into the society who have been locked up for 20 years. Many suffer with psychological problems, trauma and stress", said Fletcher. "This is not an area where the NACAB has any type of track record."

Labour MP Kevin McNamara welcomed the development but condemned the length of time it has taken to happen. "It is 10 years now since the Birmingham Six were released and only now is it beginning to be addressed. It is a scandal that people so badly wronged by the state have been forced to go on suffering for so long," said McNamara. "The scars of the time spent in prison effects the innocent victims for the rest of their lives."

McNamara expressed his hope that the new support service that was set up would be comprehensive in providing support for these damaged individuals. "Too many people believe that miscarriage of justice victims receive compensation and that should be enough - the damage done requires far more than just having money thrown at it," said McNamara.

The compensation awards for miscarriage of justice victims are what hit the headlines but little consideration goes into how such a damaged individual survives up until the award of at least an interim payment is made. The Birmingham Six have only just agreed final compensation settlements some 10 years after they were released from prison.

There is also the question of how miscarriage of justice victims use the money. Most of the people who have come out have wasted large amounts of the money. Paddy Hill has referred to using his first interim payment of £50,000 to try to buy his families' love and affection.

Mark Haffenden, the community, education and project development officer at the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) believes the present situation for innocent prisoners is completely unacceptable and what is needed is for the system of redress to be speeded up. "A speeding up of the system of redress is what we are looking for - it is a time scale thing rather than the level of redress itself. The levels of compensation are not bad, though you can never fully compensate people for the loss of so many years of their lives," said Haffenden.

Whatever the pluses or minuses of compensation and the new NACAB scheme there still remains no support for innocent prisoners at that most crucial time when they are released from prison.

Fletcher would like to see a programme established for the resettlement of miscarriage of justice victims as soon as their case is referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the Court of Appeal. There is usually a gap of some months if not years between a case being referred and heard at the Court of Appeal. "Once the case is referred the prison service should put in place a programme to help that person reintegrate into society. The probation service should also have a role as it does with guilty prisoners helping with housing provision and such like," said Fletcher.

Haffenden has problems with this suggestion regarding what happens to those prisoners whose appeal is rejected at the Court of Appeal stage. "There would be a large amount of work put in on the supposition that a prisoner is going to be released and that is not always the case. There would also be a real danger of raising false expectations," said Haffenden.

Whatever the whys and wherefores, the present system for dealing with miscarriage of justice victims is unsatisfactory. The NACAB pilot proves that there is some grudging recognition by the Home Office that something needs to be done to address the problems but overall there still seems to be a desire to brush victims of miscarriages of justice under the carpet and hope that they and the embarassment they have caused to the system will go away.

Paul Donovan is a freelance writer specialising in criminal justice issues.

 

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Reply with quote  #81 

Hi Magpie, Great posts on MOJO and a F*****G disgrace that it has took so long to even get some tiny bit of help for these people.

 

The Executive will have to add another ZERO to the proposed figure if they want to help theses poor unfortunate VICTIMS of a CORRUPT STATE!

 

It really does beg the question : WHO ARE THE REAL VILLAINS?


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Reply with quote  #82 

Quite right Admin2. The Exec were probably hoping MOJO would disappear and take their MoJ cases with them. NO CHANCE, so the Executive grudgingly provided the inadequate sum of £50,000 only when MOJO threatened to call a high-profile press conference. And as stated in the latter article of my previous post, the Home Office, rather than recommend MOJO to run the scheme to provide a national expert advice and counselling service for miscarriage of justice victims, they recommended the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaus. Well we know why. MOJO have the experience,knowledge and can provide sound advice, support and publicity for victims of MoJ. Now the Home Office wouldn't want that kind of scheme would they. Much prefer victims of MoJ knocking on the door of CAB who would be limited in knowledge of the whole Miscarriage of Justice system. Don't get me wrong, this is not to criticise the Citizens Advice Bureaus, because they do an excellent job, but it is my view for a scheme to provide expert advice and counselling service for miscarriage of justice victims, it would be best run by those with direct experience and who can fully empathise with each victim.

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Magpie even you and I know the best people to treat and to help MOJO are the ones who suffered at the hands of the STATE.

 

They are the ones who know what is best for them and how to share experiences that no amount of money could ever buy..................THE YEARS THEY HAVE ALREADY LOST!

 

We support MOJO in ALL areas of their cause and to offer our assistance if needed to heighten their profile.

 

Everyone who has suffered a miscarriage of justice needs more than money its the end result to find their inner PEACE and here is why:

 

Mental health laws are rigging the scales of justice...

A crowd of 200 had gathered to watch the prisoner arrive. Mothers and fathers with pushchairs and small children in tow, screamed 'Scum', and 'Die' and 'Kill the bastard'. A man built like a Charolais and dressed in sweatshirt and trainers hurled himself at the silver police people-carrier bearing Roy Whiting, a 42-year-old mechanic, to Chichester Magistrates Court, where he was remanded in custody, charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Payne.

The fury of the mob had been stoked at first by horror at the killing of an eight-year-old and by the News Of The World 's subsequent name-and-shame campaign. More recently the police, if not whipping up hysteria, have, seemingly, done little to tamp it down. A week ago, detectives helpfully tipped off the press that they planned to charge Whiting, who had been arrested and questioned twice previously, within three days. It was believed, though not confirmed, that their breakthrough hinged on an appeal by the BBC's Crimewatch programme.

As a 'senior police source' told the Daily Mail: 'The incident room has not stopped working since the day little Sarah disappeared. The man is due to be arrested... and the mood among many officers is buoyant.' If true, this revelation of police hubris is a disgraceful affront to justice.

Roy Whiting is innocent in the eyes of the law. He has entered no plea and faced no jury. Once a quaint old protocol decreed that, at the whiff of an arrest, a veil of secrecy descended. Now, it seems, practically anything goes in high-profile murder cases, where tragedy elides with show business and the public clamours for results.

Can Whiting get a fair trial, given the weight and type of publicity surrounding Sarah's murder? Among other examples of goldfish-bowl defendants, the next in line is Barry George, a prime focus of the media spotlight, who goes on trial for Jill Dando's murder in a fortnight.

One can see why three Appeal Court judges resisted the argument that Michael Stone should not have his case tested again in court because, as his barrister claimed, 'the wealth of prejudicial material... would make such a retrial unfair'. Perhaps, given the tonnage of pre-publicity surrounding criminal cases, the best to be hoped for is an amnesiac jury.

Later this week, the judges will give their reasons for ordering a retrial following their decision to quash Stone's conviction for the murders of Lin Russell and her daughter, Megan, and the attempted murder of Josie Russell, after a key witness had been shown to be unreliable.

The Russells will have to revisit their tragedy. Kent police may, in due course, have some tough questions to answer as to why justice miscarried. For now, the best that can be said of the whole debacle is that the appellate process has been shown to work. Whether Stone is found guilty or innocent, his case was treated with a swiftness denied to others.

Last week Stephen Downing finally walked free, after serving 27 years for the murder of Wendy Howell, a crime he almost certainly did not commit. Disgracefully, he was held in prison long after he would normally have been released, because parole boards refuse to free those who do not admit their guilt.

Last week too, the case of a man hanged for the murder of a cinema manager in 1950 went to appeal after the solicitor for George Kelly's family argued that 'the police and courts believed it was more important to secure a conviction to reassure the public than to properly investigate a crime'.

So what's changed? A quarter of a century after Kelly went to the gallows, the notorious West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad began its regime of torture, bogus confessions and creative note-taking, resulting in a litany of miscarriages of justice. The Birmingham Six were wrongly convicted, and Ann Whelan spent 17 years fighting for the release of her son, Michael Hickey, and watching his life unravel in prison before it finally emerged that he and the two other living members of the Bridgewater Four had been framed by the Squad. How long ago it seems since the wrongful conviction of Judith Ward, Stefan Kiszko, the Maguire Seven, the Guildford Four. How far we have come since then.

But not, perhaps, quite far enough. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is over-loaded with petitioners claiming to have been wrongly sentenced, and the Crown Prosecution Service remains unaccountable, prone to arbitrary decisions and strapped for cash. While science should make convictions watertight, the perception - or the reality - can be quite the opposite. The pattern of invisible blood spots that clinched the case of Sion Jenkins, the teacher found guilty of murdering his step-daughter, Billie-Jo, did not impress a number of powerful advocates who argue that he should never have been convicted. That unease, and the worries raised by the Michael Stone case, don't, of course, denote a return to the corrupt ways of the Seventies.

There are, however, new considerations in an age when locking people up is becoming so simple. Not long ago, Tony Blair announced plans to take DNA samples from everyone arrested in Britain. Fine, except that genes are already being interpreted not only as evi dence of a crime committed but as indicative of one that might be. If genetic profiling becomes part of police investigation, then the presumption of innocence dies. The Law Commission is expected soon, in the light of DNA advances and Sir William Macpherson's recommendations, to relax the 'double jeopardy' principle, under which an acquitted suspect cannot be retried for the same offence. Fine, unless the police and CPS produce slovenly prosecution cases, knowing they can always have another bash.

But the really iniquitous development is the promise by Government of post-election legislation indefinitely to detain people with untreatable personality disorders. Though the real scandal is the dearth of psychiatrists and of hospital beds for the mentally ill, Jack Straw has for years preferred to dream of incarcerating those who have committed no offence but who might. His success, framed in a recent White Paper, may delight those who choose not to recognise that schizophrenics commit 10 murders a year, or about 2 per cent of all killings. We are 20 times more likely to be killed by a sane person than an insane one, but such statistics carry little weight in a hot climate of fear in which we are encouraged to believe that a child-molesting monster lurks at every corner.

In fact, British children are the second safest in the world, according to a new survey by Unicef. But even if they were not, there would be no justification for such a gross affront to human rights. When the weight of the criminal justice system offers no guarantee that we are locking up the right suspects, incarcerating people while skipping the optional extras of a crime and a trial is hardly likely to produce good outcomes. And besides, for those failed by the courts, there is still the prospect of finding justice, even if, in Stephen Downing's case, the quest took most of his life. Jack Straw's and Alan Milburn's detainees, unconvicted but 'untreatable', may have no such luxury


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13 May 2006
POLICE MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT

WHATEVER we may think of Nat Fraser, his case is yet another shameful miscarriage of justice.

It is clear that vital evidence was withheld by Grampian Police and he was not given a fair trial.

Witnesses were coerced or never called, the "cornerstone" of the case was a sham and vital evidence didn't reach the courtroom.

An appeal will now decide whether Fraser was wrongly convicted but there is no doubt that he was dealt an injustice.

 

It's impossible to believe that all miscarriage of justice cases have been mistakes.

The police are the backbone of the justice system and they must be held to account.

Strathclyde Police are investigating Grampian Police's handling of the Fraser case.

But there is no public confidence in an inquiry where the police investigate the police.

Establishing an independent body to investigate the police is long overdue in Scotland.

Meanwhile, the greatest victims in this case are Arlene Fraser and her family.

There are no winners in this fiasco, only losers.

And Arlene is the biggest of them all.

And the public have been handed another reason to distrust their police force.

No police officer has ever been convicted in connection with a miscarriage of justice despite compelling evidence of corruption.

 

****************************************************

 

 

13 May 2006
FARMER HECTOR GOES TO GROUND AS HIS OLD PAL GETS OUT OF JAIL

HECTOR DICK - who turned Queen's evidence against Fraser - was keeping his head down last night...

Fraser was one of the Elgin farmer's closest pals and was best man at his wedding - but the friendship ended when Dick told the trial that Fraser had hired a hitman to kill his wife.

Dick realises people will always suspect he knows more about Arlene's murder.

But last night, he told the Record: "I'm trying to move on. Nat Fraser can make accusations but remember, he cast his die in court.

"He stood up and said he knew nothing. He cannot go making accusations now."

Dick was "planning a few days away" as Fraser was released yesterday. He said: "This is a very difficult time.

"I feel very sympathetic towards Arlene's family. It must be so difficult for them.

"This will bring it all out into the open again. It opens up all the hurt. Nat Fraser's release is a disaster for them. I've tried to move on. I have no feelings towards Nat.

"It's got nothing to do with me. The police hammered away at me for two years.

"It all went nowhere and then suddenly this stuff about the rings comes up. I'm relieved that I know nothing about the rings."

Dick bought a car for Fraser the night before Arlene went missing. Police later became convinced it was used to abduct her.

 

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Anne Maguire, 68, of Willesden, north London, was alleged

to have passed nitro-glycerine to the IRA in the seventies

to make bombs.

 

The Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

presented the Bene Merenti medal at the Sacred Heart of Jesus

parish in north London.

 

It was bestowed on Mrs Maguire by Pope John Paul II three

daysbefore he died.

 

Mrs Maguire was jailed in 1976 - two years after the Guildford and Woolwich bombs - with five members of her family and a family friend, including her husband Patrick, and two sons Vincent and Patrick.

 

Two of her children were left to be cared for by family and were returned to her after she was released.

 

The bomb attacks were among the most high profile atrocities

carried out by the IRA.

 

In Guildford, a device planted at the Horse and Groom pub killed

five people - four soldiers and a civilian - and injured more than 100, while in Woolwich two people were killed.

 

Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson,

who became known as the Guildford Four, were jailed the

following year.

 

Later Gerry Conlon's father, Guiseppe, and members of the

Maguire family - the Maguire Seven - were arrested and jailed.

 

Mrs Maguire was sentenced to 14 years but in 1991 the Court

of Appeal overturned their convictions and last February Prime

Minister Tony Blair issued a public apology to the Maguires for

the miscarriage of justice.

 

Of Mrs Maguire, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "Her work for

others, her strength as a woman and a human being, her constant

faith, her remarkable ability to forgive - these are the reasons why the Pope wanted to single her out and hold her up as an example."

 

Mrs Maguire's parish priest Father Francis Ryan added.......

 

"Annie was bigger than the injustice she suffered, and through time and prayer she came right in the end."

 

By oldbill.


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UK Criminal Law

Guest Feature Writers
Our guest campaigners describe various cases of injustice.

Derek Christian
A motiveless murder, a little circumstantial evidence and some bad luck can deprive anyone of their liberty - despite evidence in their favour. This case demonstrates just how easy it is to secure a murder conviction! Whatever became of in dubio pro reo?

Michael Stone
13th March, 1999: Eight years ago a savage hammer attack killed Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan. Megan's sister Josie, aged nine, was left for dead. Michael Stone - violent and mentally deranged - was convicted for their murders - twice, but could he still be the victim of a Miscarriage of Justice? Yet another Appeal is underway. Pre-Appeal News Item

Danny McNamee
17th December 1998: Gilbert "Danny" McNamee an Irishman jailed for an IRA bomb plot in 1987 and labelled by the prosecution as the "master bomb-maker" responsible for the 1982 Hyde Park explosion, won an appeal against the conviction.

The DeSilva Case
On 15th October, 1989, British Customs & Excise arrested an able seaman at Felixstowe on heroin smuggling charges after a positive field test. The official forensic analysis found no heroin, just 2 kg. of coffee, laxative and other herbal ingredients. Oops! But two Home Office forensic scientists managed to transform this 'useless and valueless' mixture into 'heroin' and secure De Silva's conviction!

Justice for Colin James Campaign
Colin James was convicted of killing his friend David Martin although the body was not found. James is serving life in HMP Wormwood Scrubs. His appeal was dismissed in March 96! Annabelle James, a first-year law student, is fighting her most vital case: to clear her father of murder. Dramatic new developments are reported below:
Yorkshire Evening Post 10 February, 1997
Daughter's battle to clear dad of murder: Solicitor finds 'new evidence'
The Express Saturday February 8, 1997
New hope for devoted daughter who took up law studies to prove convicted killer innocent
Sunday Express: March 31, 1996
Girl who dreams of becoming a great QC starts her battle for justice over vanished tycoon

The Glasgow 2 Another Scandal In British Justice
"On Tuesday, 10th February 1998 at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, Thomas Campbell and Joseph Steele were refused permission to submit evidence intended to finally clear them of crimes they have consistently denied throughout their years of wrongful imprisonment."

Dave Ford - Police Scandal
A British war veteran blown up by a landmine in the middle-east returns from duty to be framed for armed robbery by a team of corrupt police officers. Since 1985 the Metropolitan Police have been holding four paintings and a number of other items belonging to Dave Ford, worth quite literally millions. He wants them back!

Scandals in Justice at other sites...

Justice for Billy Kenealy
Billy Kenealy was convicted in 1998 of 5 counts of rape and 1 count of indecent assault and sentenced to 5 life imprisonments and 5 years for indecent assault. However, 'Justice for Billy Kenealy' campaign supporters strongly believe that a sad and serious case of miscarriage of justice has taken place. Billy's conviction was secured with little more than the now obsolete 6-marker DNA test.

Justice for Siôn Jenkins
On 15 February 1997, 13-year-old Billie-Jo Jenkins was battered to death. She suffered an untold number of blows to the head which shattered her skull. Billie-Jo was not sexually assaulted; nor was the house broken into or burgled. The doctor called to the scene said that in 26 years as a police surgeon it was the most brutal murder he had ever attended. On 2 July 1998 Siôn Jenkins was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of billie-Jo, his foster daughter. There are serious concerns about the verdict. There are many unanswered questions about the conduct of the case. Siôn Jenkins has always maintained his innocence.

The Nemo Case
A £5 million conspiracy by the British Establishment to secure a false conviction against the victim of a mental patient bogusly practising as a psychiatrist continues. Usually, the blame for corruption is laid on the police in such cases, but here, even Justice William Macpherson (of the Stephen Lawrence enquiry) cannot explain himself and 'lost' his trial notes. What's new?

James Hulbert's "censored" web site
Lord Irvine, Britain's Lord Chancellor, intervened to have Mr Hulbert's web site removed from a British-based web server. The web pages are now mirrored offshore where anyone can examine the evidence alleging forgery of 'official' criminal trial transcripts and rampant corruption within the British judicial system - see Taxi Ride to Censorship also Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties {UK}

Bridgewater Three walk free (from The Electronic Telegraph)
On 21 February, 1997, three men jailed for the murder of the Staffordshire newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater 17 years ago were released on bail amid jubilant scenes yesterday after three Appeal Court judges were told that two policemen had probably fabricated a vital statement. Several members of the jury had come forward to express concerns that the original verdict was a Miscarriage of Justice!
Recent background to the appeal:

The M25 Three Campaign
9th April 1999 Three serving life for M25 murder win case review
On the nights of 15/16 December 1988 three masked men conducted a series of violent attacks just off the M25 motorway which left one man dead, another wounded. Victims stated two of the attackers were white. In March 1990 after a six week trial Raphael Rowe, Michael Davis and Randolph Johnson were convicted of murder and sentenced to life. All Three Are Black! (These pages expose the corruption within the British Criminal Justice system)

Roísín McAliskey
Link to Roisin McAliskey's Homepage

Bus Ride to Hell - The Sandra Gregory Story by Simon Regan
Sandra, severely ill and underweight with dengue fever, agreed to carry 89 grams (3 ozs) of heroin for a travelling companion on a flight from Bangkok to Tokyo. She acted as a 'mule' for an acquaintance who could provide the price of an air ticket to return home to Britain for treatment. Both were arrested and tried. Sandra was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. He was found not guilty. Sandra was released from her Thailand-imposed sentence at HMP Durham (UK) in July 2000 after being pardoned by the King of Thailand. I was so stupid, says heroin smuggler pardoned by king.

Free the Toxteth Two
Raymond Gilbert and John Kamera were charged with robbery and the murder of John Suffield, a betting shop manager in Toxteth, Liverpool. There are serious doubts about the saftety of convictions and evidence that both men are innocent of these crimes. The police are said to have used various dirty tricks to secure their convictions at Liverpool Crown Court on 16th December 1981.
(See also Trial and Error's transcript of John Kamara's case featured below.)

The Cambridge Two - Justice for Ruth Wyner and John Brock
"The sentencing to prison of two charity workers has shocked and scandalised Cambridge," Nick Cohen of The Observer continued; "On 17 December at King's Lynn Crown Court, a representative section of the Cambridge intelligentsia was pushed as close as its good manners and quiet temperament permitted to riot. Judge Jonathan Haworth, a new beak who has been delivering stern sentences from the moment his bottom hit the bench, put Ruth Wyner and John Brock on the casualty list of the unwinnable war on drugs."

Other websites featuring Miscarriages of Justice

United Against Injustice
The National Federation of Miscarriage of Justice Campaign and Support Organisations is an association of independent member organisations formed on 24 November 2001. Each of the member groups meets regularly and actively supports two or more cases. It is committed to helping miscarriage of justice campaigners set up such local organisations.

  • Socially Important Films Ltd offers two DVDs of a recent United Against Injustice meeting. The first is for the main meeting and the second relates to an associated workshop.

Innocent
A Manchester-based organisation that supports and campaigns for innocent people in prison. Founded in 1993, Innocent is an independent organisation made up of families, friends and supporters of wrongly convicted prisoners who have come together in order to help each other.

Conviction
A Sheffield-based organisation that deals with numerous miscarriages of justice, working closely with Innocent.

Portia (new website)
Founded by a former BBC journalist, Ken Norman, Portia aims to help victims of miscarriages of justice. The site features many well written and researched articles on current cases. On 8th February 2000, Portia's web site was suspended over a legal dispute concerning the article Eddie Gilfoyle is Innocent. Further censorship details at Black Link. Gilfoyle's case is also featured below.

Tough Justice
The site features British miscarriages of justice and links through to the Tom Sargant Memorial Lecture site, which is a veritable treasure trove of research material on the subject.

Miscarriages of Justice UK
Several cases are featured on this new website.

Prisoner Support
A site with many interesting cases, articles and links regarding miscarriages of justice.

Trial and Error

A British TV programme produced by Channel 4 that highlighted Miscarriages of Justice until it was taken off the air in late 1999. On 29th May 2001 at the request of Channel 4's solicitor DJ Freeman the Trial and Error archive on this site was removed, including transcripts and updates on the following cases:

Johnny Kamara
Thomas Campbell and Joseph Steele (See SIJ's feature on The Glasgow 2)
Brian Parsons
Bob Field
Danny McNamee (See SIJ's feature on Danny McNamee)
Eddie Gilfoyle (See the Free Eddie Gilfoyle Campaign)
Jamil Chowdhary
Mary Druhan
Mark Cleary
Peter Fell
Sheila Bowler
Raymond Gilmour
Jason Warr
George McPhee


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22 May 2006
BOMBING INJUSTICE VICTIM DIES...

A MEMBER of the Birmingham Six, who were wrongly jailed over IRA pub bombings in the city, has died.

Richard McIlkenny, 73, had been battling cancer.

Originally from Belfast, McIlkenny joined the Irish Army in 1952, serving four years before moving to England.

He was a factory worker living in Birmingham when he was held along with friends by Special Branch detectives.

He was interrogated and beaten by police for three days until he signed a false confession admitting to bombing the pubs in which 21 people died and 162 were injured.

McIlkenny, Patrick Hill, Gerry Hunter, Hugh Callaghan, Billy Power and Johnny Walker were convicted of the blasts and sentenced to life in 1975.

 

They were freed in 1991, when forensic investigations showed their confessions had been tampered with.

The case sparked huge protests and a campaign to free them was launched.

McIlkenny settled in Dublin after his release and died at the city's James Connolly Hospital with his family at his bedside.

North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said: "Richard and his family stood up against British injustice and were proved right in the end.

"He had years of his life stolen from him because of the British judicial system."

 

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Expert witnesses must not fear prosecution...

MEDICAL ETHICS?

SIR Roy Meadow is an eminent (now retired) paediatrician, who gave evidence in a number of high-profile cases, most notably in the prosecution of Sally Clark, whose conviction for the murder of her two children was subsequently overturned (although not on the basis of Sir Roy's evidence).

A complaint was made to the General Medical Council...


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Hi Admin2... thanks for your previous post with regards to 'Another Miscarriage Of Justice'.

 

Having reserached Sir Roy Meadow, I thought I would post his career record, which, like others we know,omits certain professional 'mistakes' and  makes no mention of the fact that HIS evidence convicted an innocent mother of murdering her own children.

 

Sir Roy Meadow

  • Educated at a grammar school in Wigan and Oxford University
  • Worked as a GP in Banbury
  • Became a senior lecturer at Leeds University
  • Took up chair in paediatrics and child health in 1980 at St James's University Hospital, Leeds
  • Former president of British Paediatric Association
  • Former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Knighted in 1998 for services to child health

Sir Roy first came to prominence in 1977 after publishing a paper in The Lancet medical journal on a condition he dubbed as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

This is a form of child abuse in which a parent induces real or apparent symptoms of a disease in a child.

Perhaps the most high profile example was the case of nurse Beverly Allit, who murdered four children and harmed nine others. Professor Meadow worked in this case.

But even his work in this field has been subject to controversy.

In the House of Lords recently, Earl Howe, the Opposition spokesman on health, accused the professor of inventing a 'theory without science' and refusing to produce any real evidence to prove that Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy actually exists.

Meadow's law

However, Sir Roy is most renowned for an observation in a book that became universally known as "Meadow's Law".

 

This states that: "one sudden infant death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder, unless proven otherwise."

 

He has since gained him a reputation for being particularly severe when confronted with cases of multiple child deaths in one family.

 

 

Many supporters, however, have championed Professor Meadow, calling him a man of great skill and compassion.

 

It is also true that the Court of Appeal decision to quash Mrs Clark's murder convictions did not hinge on Professor Meadow's statistics.

 

Instead, the crucial factor was the revelation that evidence from pathologist Dr Alan Williams had not been made available at the original trial.

 

A CPS spokeswoman said Professor Meadow did not use statistics in the Patel and Cannings trials and had been just one of a number of expert witnesses to be called by the prosecution.

 

Asked whether he would be called again as a witness, she said: "There is no professional body that has found against Professor Meadow that we are aware of.

 

"It would depend on the case and what the evidence was whichever expert was chosen."

 

The General Medical Council said they were investigating Prof Meadow but would not release any further details.

 

ROY MEADOW – EPILOGUE (or so we thought : Ed)
Written by Felicity McCall.

On Friday, July 15th, 2005, the General Medical Council (GMC) found Professor (Sir) Roy Meadow guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck him off the register. This effectively bans him from practising as a doctor.

The Council ruled that Meadow’s conduct at the trial of a number of women wrongly convicted of murdering their babies - including Sally Clark, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony - had been “fundamentally unacceptable.”

It said his evidence at Sally Clark’s trial was “erroneous and misleading”, and his interpretation of statistics “may have seriously undermined the authority of doctors giving evidence. “

During the 1999 trial, Meadow had told the jury that the chance of two natural and unexplained cot deaths in one family was “73 million to one”, a fact which undoubtedly led to the guilty verdict, and which was later disputed by both the Royal Statistical Society and other experts who said that once genetic and environmental factors have been considered the true figure is closer to 200 to 1.

The GMC panel’s chair, Mary Clark-Glass, said she did not think he had misled intentionally, but warned he “should not have strayed into areas that were not within his remit of expertise”.

Afterwards, Sally Clark’s father Frank Lockyer, who brought the case, said the system of expert witnesses needed to be examined, his family may now be able to put the last seven years “of hell” behind them.

Angela Cannings said the news was “fantastic” and called for Meadow to apologise. Donna Anthony’s solicitor George Hawks said she “ is not vindictive… she just wanted him to acknowledge he had got it wrong in her case and offer an apology.”

Closure then? Perhaps, in part … yet the President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Sir Alan Craft, said the decision to strike off Meadow was “saddening”… as he had a “long and distinguished career” and undoubtedly “saved the life of many children.” The decision, he said,“does not reflect on the rest of his career.”


EDITOR'S NOTE: In February 2006 Meadow appealed and Mr Justice Collins ruled that as an expert witness he was part of a protected species and immune from any action by the GMC unless a judge ordered it. Here are two articles from Private Eye magazine that does a far better job of describing the position than I can.

PRIVATE EYE No 1153, 3rd March 2006.

MR Justice Collins’ judgment reversing the decision of the General Medical Council to strike off Professor Sir Roy Meadow will be felt far beyond the controversial “cot death” murder trials at which Meadow has given expert testimony. The judge has removed the power of any professional body to guarantee and enforce standards — unless it can be proved that the expert was acting in “bad faith” or unless a judge refers the expert to his or her professional body. Collins’ judgment can only be described as a victory for commonsense if you ignore the evidence, the context, Sir Roy’s peculiar track record, the statistics, paediatrics, genetics and the presumption of innocence.

The GMC’s charge against Meadow, the first president of the Royal College of Paediatricians and the discoverer of Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy, was not that he got one statistic wrong in good faith, as Judge Collins believes. It was that at the trial of Sally Clark (who was jailed in 1999 for killing her two sons, three-month-old Christopher and two-month-old Harry), he wrongly cherry-picked from a study the single most damning statistic — “a 73 million to one” chance of having two sudden infant deaths — while keeping back from the jury the main finding of the study: that once you suffer one cot death, the chances of a second are actually more likely.

Meadow also failed to declare his lack of expertise as a statistician. And to compound matters, the “73 million to one” figure arrived at by simply multiplying the chance of having one cot death (at the time put at one in 8,543) by the same figure is in any event wrong because one should not square odds and nor should one apply general population statistics to individual cases — all of which the “expert” Meadow did.

On the eve of Mrs Clark’s double murder trial (she was eventually freed by the courts in 2003), Sir Roy faxed the police a table from the study showing the “73m to one” figure — but not the accompanying health warning text, which painted a very different picture and warned: “This does not take account of possible familial incidence of factors” — that is, genetic or environmental factors. The charge against Meadow was that he loaded the evidence against the cot death mother in the dock while ignoring his duty as an expert to present the full picture, even when it was inconvenient and undermined his own evidence.

In his expert statement for the court, written earlier, Meadow had put the double cot death chance at one in a million; but again, contrary to good expert guidance and practice, he was unable to produce the raw data on which this figure was based. No scientist would be able to get a paper containing such statistics published without proper scrutiny and peer review — yet they can it seems be produced to a court where a mother or father faces a life sentence when accused of the most terrible crime.

The GMC said it had accepted that Sir Roy’s failures were neither "calculated nor wilful". It added: "However, your misguided belief in the truth of your arguments, maintained throughout the period in questions and indeed throughout this inquiry, is both disturbing and serious.” In the opening sentence of his judgment Judge Collins proclaims that Meadow is an eminent paediatrician. In fact science has junked Sir Roy’s Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy, which has no laboratory science behind it and doesn’t merit a proper entry in either of the world medicine’s two diagnostic bibles. Even the Department of Health has dumped the title.

Science has also junked Meadow’s Law: that until proven otherwise, one cot death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder. Genetics too makes a nonsense of Meadow who shredded his database before the Sally Clark case began. Sir Roy’s apparent eminence thus seems to rest on legal findings, and here again Mr Justice Collins gives Meadow the benefit of the doubt. Meadow has given reports in 10 criminal cases, always effectively for the prosecution and against the defendant. This 100 percent siding against the accused shows, critics say, someone who tends to see child abuse wherever he looks. In four of those eases —those of Sally Clark, Angela Cannings. Donna Anthony and Margaret Smith — the appeal court found that there had been miscarriages of justice. In a fifth case, that of Trupti Patel, the jury dismissed the Crown’s evidence, including that of Sir Roy. Appeals are in the pipeline for two more cases.

It was clear from the GMC’s criticism of Sir Roy’s continuing misguided beliefs that the panel had these other matters in mind — even if Mr Justice Collins did not. It was precisely because Sir Roy was regarded as leader in his field, that he should have taken meticulous care in such a sensitive area. Yet he had failed to keep abreast of his own field of expertise, had strayed outside his area without revealing it and had given misleading evidence. His errors “compounded by repetition over a considerable period of time” were what led to his sanction.

Mr Justice Collins’ overriding concern was that doctors would be discouraged from giving expert opinion if it could lead to disciplinary action, even if given in good faith. But any expert giving opinion in which could lead to wrongful conviction should surely be prepared to have that opinion rigorously tested — and especially when life sentences are at stake. Those who can support what they say with data, research and evidence will have nothing to fear.

Private Eye 1155, 31st March 2006.

WHY has Mr Justice Collins apparently been keeping the recent spate of contentious appeals from the General Medical Council, including the cases of Labour benefactor Dr Chai “Diddums” Patel and Professor Sir Roy Meadow, to himself?

The GMC no doubt thought it had the answer when it came to last month’s high court hearing into the GMC decision to strike off Sir Roy, over the deeply flawed evidence he presented in the case of Sally Clark, wrongly jailed in 1999 over the deaths of her two sons, three-month-old Christopher and two-month-old Harry.

Lawyers for the GMC asked the judge if he should excuse himself from hearing Meadows’ appeal because the GMC had sat in judgment on the judge’s brother — “high society psychiatrist” Dr Mark Collins, over allegations of sexual impropriety with a vulnerable female patient. While the GMC cleared Dr Collins of serious professional misconduct and found the sexual allegations unproven, it did publicly criticise him for crossing patient-doctor boundaries by meeting the patient outside of work and allowing his head to be turned’ by a pretty patient. GMC lawyers also pointed out that the barrister representing his brother, Nicola Davies QC. was also representing Sir Roy.

Mr Justice Collins could see no potential conflict resulting from his brother’s clearing by the GMC and said that he did not know Ms Davies. He then went on to deliver a judgment which not only limited the powers of the GMC to regulate doctors who give inaccurate and misleading evidence to courts, but also gave greater protection from sanction from any old “expert” who gives evidence, no matter how dodgy. The ruling has come in for critical scrutiny and is being appealed by the GMC.

But should Mr Justice Collins have removed himself from hearing the GMC case against Labour benefactor Chai Patel, who continues to stamp his feet at not getting a peerage? Eye readers are well aware that the case against Dr Patel related to Lynde House in west London, then run by his firm Westminster Care Homes, where there were widespread allegations of neglect. It was the first test of whether a doctor should be disciplined over the care of patients who he was not directly treating. But it was thrown out by Mr Justice Collins before it ever got underway on the grounds that the charges brought against Dr Patel by the GMC were a “rotten indictment” and looked like scapegoating.

As everyone knows, Dr Patel is the man behind the Priory group of health and rehabilitation clinics.., and Mr Justice Collins’ brother. Dr Collins, was a clinical director at the Priory clinic in central London and now, according to its website, works at the Priory Hospital in Roehampton.

 

 


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Guilty until proven innocent

21 years, 10 months, 23 days. For a crime he did not commit...


photo   photo
[Brevard Sheriff’s Office]
Trish helped police sketch her rapist and later identified Wilton Dedge, right. “The eyes, I remember his deep-set eyes,” she told a private investigator. “I see those eyes every time I look into the mirror.”

  photo
[Times photo: Kinfay Moroti]
Wilton Dedge is back living in his old bedroom. “My faith in Wilton never wavered. I am proud to be his father, and I love him dearly,” says Walter Dedge Sr. “I think he’s a better man today than when he went in prison. He disciplined himself while in there… To have known him before, it was not that he was dumb, but he didn’t apply himself to things like school.”
photo
[Times photo: Kinfay Moroti]
Dedge copied a Christmas card he got in prison to draw this pencil sketch of Mary and Jesus. The photo of he and his brother in suits was the day Dedge got out of prison a few hours for his grandmother’s funeral.
Clarence Zacke wanted $1,000 for an interview; the Times didn’t pay it.   photo


Aug. 12, Wilton Dedge walks free, his mother Mary behind. His parents visited him monthly during his 22 years in prison; they borrowed from pension plans, family and friends to raise nearly $200,000 to defend him.   photo
[AP Photo]

Brevard State Attorney Norman Wolfinger says prosecutors did no wrong.   photo

photo
[Times photo: Kinfay Moroti]
Wilton Dedge hangs out in his parent’s front yard, and friends who haven’t seen him in forever drop by. He still wonders who really raped Trish. “I always thought if you’re sick enough to do it, then you’re sick enough not to worry about someone doing time for it.”

A hint of a smile played across Wilton Dedge's face, hardly noteworthy except that the man does not show emotion. It's not that he doesn't want to smile or laugh or even cry about his life, it's just that you can't change the way you've been for 22 years in the space of two weeks.

But working on his 1988 Nissan at a friend's auto repair shop in Cocoa, Dedge's lips curled up, just a little, when he learned that his buddy's brother drives a school bus for a living.

"Geez, how do you deal with that?" Dedge asked Dave Kryston. "I know how crazy we were."

Kryston's 1987 Monte Carlo was parked next to the Nissan. Smoking a cigarette in one of the greasy bays, out of the hot sun, Kryston looked with pity and sadness at the friend he hadn't seen in more than two decades.

"Glad to see a smile on your face," he said, nodding. "Glad to see you smile."

Dedge lit a Marlboro and moved into the bay next to Kryston. He stared at the oil-marked floor, exhaled, and finally broke the silence. "Well, it's been a while. It really has."

* * *

Dec. 8, 1981, New Smyrna Beach, after lunch

Dedge leaned under the hood of a Dodge van, working on the transmission. Two guys who owned the garage had hired him for a few days.

He had just turned 20 and lived with his parents in Port St. John, a town of 400 anchored by the twin towers of a Florida Power & Light plant, where his father worked.

He did a few days in jail once for reckless driving and running from police, charges that were dropped. He had a motorcycle and plenty of girls after him.

A high school dropout, he surfed, drag-raced, skateboarded and partied, flitting from job to job, a couple of weeks here, a few months there. Mostly he worked for a phone cable company and in car garages. He was broke.

After Dedge installed the rebuilt transmission, owner John Paul gave him a check for $25, which he cashed at the gas station across the street.

Four people at the shop were sure Dedge stayed till closing, between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Paul wasn't sure when Dedge left.

The other shop owner, John Huey, said he and Dedge closed the shop and hopped on their motorcycles for the quick ride to Pub 44. Dedge downed a sandwich and five or six beers in half an hour. As darkness fell, they rode to Moe's Bar.

* * *

4:35 p.m., Dec. 8, 1981. Canaveral Groves, 46 miles away

She heard a noise and he was there, in the doorway of her bedroom.

He wore jeans, a white T-shirt cut off at the sleeves and brown motorcycle gloves. He had long, fine blond hair bleached from the sun, a fine mustache and greenish-blue eyes. Muscular, he looked like a construction worker or a surfer.

"Hi, Trish," he said.

She was 17. Trish was her nickname; it was in big letters on her cosmetology case on the floor and on plaques around her room.

Her eyes went to the box cutter in the stranger's right hand.

With the retractable razor blade he sliced off her clothes, cut her and threw her on the bed. He held the blade over her face.

She did not scream, did not cry. Don't hurt me, she thought.

He sliced her face and neck, stomach and chest, arms and legs, working the razor back and forth, sometimes making X's on her skin. The weapon at her neck, he looked her in the eye and raped her.

He emptied her purse, picked up her wallet, put it down. He raped her again and slugged her in the face.

Through her bedroom window, she spotted a neighbor getting his mail. She grabbed a glass from atop her stereo and threw it at the bedroom door.

Again he punched her in the face, and he was gone.

In 45 minutes, he had cut her 65 times.

* * *

Dec. 12, 1981. Port St. John

Trish's boyfriend took her to the hospital. Most of her external injuries were superficial; one cut on her calf measured 7 inches long.

After four days, it was time to get out of the house. Trish and her sister drove to nearby Port St. John to check out the home they lived in before their parents divorced.

About 9 p.m., Trish pulled her Pontiac up to a Jiffy Mart and popped in to buy her sister a Coke and cigarettes.

Feeling someone staring at her, Trish turned. He was standing by a video game. His mustache looked slightly darker, he seemed shorter, and yet . . .

She ran to the car, shaken.

"What?" her sister said.

"I think the guy that did it is in the store."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm pretty sure. . . . It looked like him," she said, tears running. "But he (the rapist) looked taller." She had told police he stood maybe 6 foot, 160 to 180 pounds.

Just then he exited the store. Trish's sister recognized him, they rode the bus together to elementary school; she thought his name was Walter. Did Trish want to call the police?

Trish said no.

* * *

January 1982, Brevard County

Trish returned to the Jiffy Mart a week later and saw him again. She thought maybe he looked shorter in the store because she wore 3-inch heels when she saw him there the first time.

Now, certain it was him, she called police. Her sister had thought his name was Walter Hedge. Later Trish corrected it to Walter Dedge.

On Jan. 8, Brevard sheriff's Sgt. Steven Kindrick arrested Wilton Dedge's older brother, Walter. Two days later, he showed Trish's sister a photo lineup that included Walter.

"I hope you haven't put him in jail," she said. "It's his brother."

Kindrick released Walter and arrested Wilton the next day. The officer had showed Trish a new photo lineup. "That's the one," she said, pointing to Wilton's photo. No doubt.

* * *

March 10, 1982. Brevard County Courthouse

Dedge wet both hands at the restroom sink, dried them on paper towels from a wall dispenser and handed them to state attorney's investigator George Dirschka.

Holding the towels by their edges, Dirschka hooked them into a paper clip. He hung them to dry from the window ledge of his office for 30 minutes. He folded and put them in a clean paper bag from the coffee shop downstairs, sealed it with a red evidence tag and placed it in his desk drawer.

Eight days later, Sgt. Kindrick took the bag to the fifth-floor jury room, where a crime scene investigator arranged a lineup of five sets of bedsheets. In the No. 3 position were Trish's sheets - a white top one and a bottom one with a desert scene in tan, brown and blue with some blood on it. The other four sets were white sheets from the jail's dirty laundry.

In came dog handler John Preston, a former Pennsylvania patrol officer, and his man-trailing purebred German shepherd, Harrass II. Preston stuck the bag with the paper towels in front of his dog.

"Suche," he commanded in German. Search.

Twice Preston walked the dog past the five piles of sheets. On the second run, Harrass II stopped, put down his head and sniffed at pile No. 3.

* * *

March 23, 1982, Sanford Regional Crime Lab

David Jernigan, a microanalyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, removed Trish's twin bed sheets from a paper envelope. He hung them from a clothesline over an 8-foot long table covered with butcher paper.

He "swept" the sheets, removing all debris. Two pubic hairs dropped to the paper; one of them was light brown. He placed it on a slide, side-by-side with a pubic hair collected from Wilton Dedge, and viewed them under his microscope.

"Both similarities and differences were noted between this pubic hair and . . . the sample from Dedge," Jernigan wrote in his report. "However, the differences were not sufficient to entirely eliminate Dedge as a possible source."

Prosecutors were sure Dedge was their man: Trish was convincing, the height difference now attributed to the attacker possibly having worn boots; the police artist sketch Trish did right after the rape turned out to be a dead-on likeness of Dedge; they had the dog-scent evidence, and now, the pubic hair. It all fit.

* * *

Sept. 20, 1982, Brevard County Courthouse

The trial lasted eight days. Trish said Dedge was the one. The dog handler and the hair analyst testified.

Dedge said it wasn't him. His alibi witnesses - five in all - put him at the auto shop, nearly 50 miles away.

The jury deliberated four hours and pronounced him guilty as charged.

At sentencing, Dedge's father beseeched Circuit Judge J. William Woodson. "Your honor," Walter Gary Dedge Sr. said, "there is someone out there that did this, and they have not been apprehended."

"Maybe," the judge answered, "but the juries I have seen let a lot of guilty ones go, in my mind and the defense attorneys minds, that they know are guilty."

Dedge's lawyer, Joseph Moss, jumped in. "As a practicing attorney of 12 years, I have got to tell you, I have never had a case that I thought was as wrong from a jury as this one."

Moss said the dog handler's scent test seemed unreliable. The judge said he had heard somewhere that the jury had based its verdict on the victim's testimony.

Trish originally said the rapist was 6 foot, maybe 180 pounds. Dedge was between 5-5 and 5-6, 125 pounds.

"Your honor, you heard the testimony," Moss said. "The physical description of her assailant was - the first three days - clearly a much larger man than my client."

"They (prosecutors) argued that somebody with a knife in their hand looks mighty big," the judge replied.

Dedge didn't hear much after the judge said "30 years." His mind went blank, all sound left the room.

* * *

Late 1982, Sumter Correctional Institution

So many inmates had knives and sharp instruments that the prison in Bushnell was known as "Gladiator School." Anger and racial tension permeated the place.

Dedge sought out old-timers for advice. He learned that to talk about what you're in for is a sign of disrespect.

He learned that he had to fight anyone who robbed or tried to rape him. He got into six or seven fights, he says, and was not raped. He was shocked the first time he saw two men lip-locked in the recreation yard.

Those first 18 months he kept to himself, unassuming, observant, until good news came as the calendar turned to 1984.

An appeal court ruled that Dedge's trial judge should not have barred his side from putting on an expert to challenge the dog-scent evidence. He was entitled to a new trial.

* * *

Jan. 23, 1984, aboard a prison transport vehicle

Dedge left Sumter Correctional at 7 a.m., bound for Brevard County to request bail while he waited for his second trial. At prisons and county jails along the way, the van picked up and dropped off inmates.

Three prisoners got off at the Reception and Medical Center at Lake Butler; Clarence Zacke got on.

A one-time millionaire with an auto salvage business, Zacke had been sentenced to 180 years for three murder-for-hire plots. He tried to hire two hit men to kill a witness in a drug-smuggling case against him. He tried to get someone else to murder one of the hit men. In jail, Zacke tried to hire another inmate to kill the state attorney who prosecuted him, to "get even."

For testifying against others, Zacke already had gotten his sentence cut. Now he was being transported to Brevard, to testify against someone else.

Shackled and seated on wooden benches opposite each other, Dedge and Zacke talked for two hours. The next night, Dedge's prosecutor, John Dean Moxley Jr., got a call at home.

"Does the name Dedge mean anything to you?" asked Zacke's son, Richard.

At Dedge's bail hearing a few days later, Clarence Zacke testified that Dedge told him he "raped and cut up some old hog."

Zacke knew details: that Dedge worked at the auto shop in New Smyrna Beach, that five people there were his alibi. That one of them, John - a biker with a scraggly beard, long hair and a prison record - made a poor impression on the jury.

Zacke said Dedge told him he drove his souped-up Kawasaki motorcycle more than 160 mph, made the 45-mile drive to the victim's double-wide in 15 minutes and got back to the shop before anybody noticed he was gone.

He said Dedge told him that if he saw his victim again, he would kill her.

Bail? Denied.

* * *

August 1984, Dedge's second trial

Dedge's new lawyer, Mark Horwitz, had a slew of ammunition ready - transcripts from other cases - when the dog handler took the stand.

Preston testified he was a member of the United States Police Canine Association. He was not.

Another time Preston had misrepresented his level of training at the Tom McGean School for Dogs in Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Postal Service had investigated Preston, questioning the reliability of his tracking in a number of criminal cases.

Dog handling experts had accused Preston of cuing his dogs and had questioned his assertion that his dogs could track someone years after the fact. In one case, a judge ordered a test after just four days; Preston's dog failed.

Now Horwitz asked: Various investigators handled the paper bag containing the paper towels Dedge had touched; wouldn't that contaminate the evidence? The lawyer read Preston his testimony that a person's scent could pass through the leather soles of his shoes.

Preston caved. Maybe scent could travel through a paper bag. He wasn't sure.

Though the scent evidence was undone, for this trial prosecutors had something new. They had Zacke.

A veteran snitch, his testimony in other cases shaved 130 years from his sentence and got a confiscated pickup truck returned to his girlfriend. He also got the prison transfer he wanted. For testifying against Dedge, he hoped to improve his chance for parole.

Wearing prison blues and rubber sandals, Zacke told the jury that Dedge bragged he had to fight off girlfriends he had so many. Then why rape somebody? Zacke said he had asked.

"He kind of grinned back at me," Zacke testified, "and he said, because, those girls that flock all over me . . . he said there's no challenge to it."

Dedge's alibi witnesses did not testify this time; his lawyer counseled that their rough exteriors had not played well at the first trial. Defense experts challenged the state's dog scent and hair evidence; Dedge testified that he was innocent and that Zacke had lied.

The all-male jury deliberated seven hours and reached the identical verdict as had the first jury.

At sentencing, Dec. 12, 1984, prosecutor Robert Wayne Holmes pointed to Zacke's testimony that Dedge had threatened to kill the victim. That gave the judge the leeway to exceed the 30 years Dedge got the first time.

Wilton Dedge had himself a new sentence: life in prison.

* * *

Prison: life inside

One of his best buddies was a murderer ("it was self-defense"), and he counted drug dealers, burglars, kidnappers and counterfeiters as friends. ("I would rather not even know what they are in for. I'd rather see what they are like.")

He got his GED.

He carved a miniature piano out of red oak, with tiny black walnut keys.

He saw a man a few beds over get stabbed six times for turning down a lover.

He gathered plastic spoons from the canteen and melted them together to make an airboat.

He got a Grim Reaper tattooed on his arm by an inmate with crude instruments - a sharpened staple attached to an ink pen cartridge filled with a mixture of oil, water and soot from burned spoons.

He got out for a few hours in 1986, to attend his grandmother's funeral. He wore a gray suit and shackles, and he was embarrassed.

He held his brother's new baby in the prison visitation room, where he would see three of his grandparents for the last time.

He joined prison Toastmasters to overcome his shyness, speaking in front of other prisoners about surfing, pollution and prison conditions.

He saw an inmate raped by 20 others.

He would write down his anger about the system and the prosecutor, then rip up what he wrote.

He glued matchsticks together to make a galley ship, with sails made of resin paper.

He paid an inmate clerk $10 to get to the head of a waiting list to take a class to become a certified water and wastewater plant operator.

He trained for more than a year and gained 10 pounds to compete in a U.S. prison weightlifting competition. At the last moment, the competition was canceled.

His softball team won the prison tournament and, for a few minutes, he forgot where he was.

He did not show emotion. He trusted no one.

Two men targeted him to become their "pressure punk," a sex partner. An inmate gave him a knife and told him to stab one or both of them, it was the only way. Dedge sought advice from a guard, who he said told him: stab the men.

"I can't see myself stabbing someone. Fighting is one thing, something you have to do in there, but sticking someone with a knife is personal."

Instead, he reported that he feared for his life and twice was put in protective custody away from other prisoners, for a total of two years. He said it was like solitary confinement.

* * *

Prison: seeking DNA

Five years he lived court document to court document until they slowed to a trickle, his appeals exhausted. He spent two years with nothing to cling to, until he read a newspaper article about a new DNA test.

Dedge had his former lawyer's secretary check: The pubic hair and semen sample evidence still remained.

He wrote to 35 lawyers. Not one would take his case.

Four years passed.

1990.

1991.

1992.

1993.

Home in Port St. John, his parents took down the black-light posters in his bedroom and gave his bunk beds to his brother for his kids. They moved in his grandmother's bed and hung pictures of snow-covered mountains and palm trees at sunset. They visited their son at least once a month.

In early 1994, watching Good Morning America, Dedge saw lawyer Peter J. Neufeld, who along with Barry C. Scheck had started the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic that works to obtain new DNA testing for inmates. Back then it consisted of the lawyers and a handful of New York law school students.

Dedge wrote and the Innocence Project started investigating. The pace was excruciating. A college student would write Dedge, introducing himself or herself and counseling patience. That student would graduate and Dedge would get another letter of introduction.

Three more years passed.

1995.

1996.

1997.

Dedge earned certification to operate water and wastewater plants and got a transfer to Cross City Correctional, a prison with a water plant inside its maximum security gates. He ran the system, repaired the equipment, adjusted the chemicals.

In 1997, Scheck's team, unable to get Dedge's prosecutors to agree to test his DNA, asked a judge for permission, one of the first such requests in Florida.

The state fought the request to apply new science to an old case, saying the time for postconviction relief had passed.

"Without rules, we would never have finality in any case," said Holmes, the prosecutor at Dedge's second trial.

Appeals courts agreed that Dedge was "procedurally barred" from obtaining the evidence.

By now, prominent Miami lawyer Milton Hirsch, an expert on criminal procedure, had joined the case. Working for free, he appealed to a judge to allow the test for the sake of justice. In 2000, the judge agreed.

The semen sample had degraded across 18 years; that DNA test was inconclusive.

But the test on the pubic hair was definitive: It had not come from Dedge.

At trial, Holmes had told the jury that the pubic hair all but put Dedge in the victim's bed. Now he said the hair was irrelevant, it could have come from anywhere.

Hirsch demanded a new trial. Holmes eventually argued that Dedge's timing was off.

Having earlier argued that Dedge was too late - the time for appeals had passed - the state now argued that he was too early.

The Florida Legislature had just passed a law providing a mechanism for prisoners to seek DNA testing in older cases. Because Dedge got permission for DNA testing before the state passed its law, Holmes said, he should not get to take advantage of it.

The state argued to the Fifth District Court of Appeal that Dedge's possible innocence was beside the point. Rules are paramount.

The appeal court issued its ruling Jan. 13, 2003: Dedge could use the DNA evidence to seek a new trial.

* * *

Oct. 26, 2001, Daytona Beach

The private investigator knocked on Trish's door. Lorraine Yuen says she identified herself as working for Dedge's attorneys.

Trish refused to talk but followed when Yuen headed to her car to leave.

"What do you want to know?" Trish said. She was 17 when she was raped; now she was 37.

Could she have identified the wrong man? Yuen asked.

"No, why?"

The hair is not Dedge's, Yuen said.

"That can't be."

Trish asked Yuen if she was a reporter; she had dodged them for years. Yuen produced her ID.

Trish said she always wondered about the hair because she had been a hairdresser; the hair could have belonged to anyone.

Yuen clarified. This was pubic hair.

Trish said only three people ever were in her bed - herself, her sister and Wilton Dedge.

"Could I possibly have put the wrong man behind bars for 20 years?" Trish said.

She said she forgave Dedge and would not stand in the way of his release. But she told Yuen she wouldn't help him get out unless it was proven beyond a doubt that he did not rape her.

She said she wanted to talk more but needed time to think and pray.

But after their 30-minute conversation, Trish took no more of Yuen's calls. She told prosecutors that Yuen tricked her by pretending she worked for the State Attorney's Office. Yuen denied it.

* * *

Aug. 12, 2004. Freedom

After the inconclusive DNA test on the semen sample in 2000, a more advanced test, known as Y-chromosome, became available.

The two sides now flopped positions.

The state, which had opposed tests, wanted this one. Let the chips fall where they may. If Dedge is innocent, let the test prove it.

The defense, which had demanded tests, opposed it - for now. It had been three years since DNA proved the pubic hair came from somebody other than Dedge. His lawyers said another test was just a stall tactic.

The state got its way.

On Aug. 11, Dedge got a call from Nina Morrison, one of his lawyers. The results were back, the semen was not his. He was getting out.

At 1:15 a.m. Aug. 12, he was released into the arms of his parents.

They took him to Port St. John, back to his old room. His mother's pink flamingo collection had grown exponentially, the house seemed a whole lot smaller and the vegetation had grown so much the neighborhood looked like a "jungle."

That night, he and his 65-year-old father walked the streets, holding hands.

* * *

The state: Sorry, but no regrets

State Attorney Norman Wolfinger wrote Dedge a letter the day he got out.

"I have no words that I can say to you that will ever be able to adequately express my heartfelt apology," he began.

"There is also no way that I can give back to you the precious time you lost in prison as an innocent man away from your family and loved ones. But I want you to know that I am sorry this has happened to you."

The letter is better than nothing, Dedge said, but not enough.

"He (Brevard prosecutors) got up in a courtroom and said a lot of bad things about me," Dedge said. "Why can't he apologize to my face?"

Wolfinger, who became state attorney after Dedge's second trial, said the office is blameless.

"It hits in the pit of my stomach about what happened, and it should," Wolfinger said. "But did I personally or this office do anything wrong? No!

"What you have here is the miracle of science coming forward. I don't know anyone who's perfect and makes the right decisions every time except for God. All you can do is be as honest and as vigilant as you can to search for the truth."

The victim's identification was strong, he said. The composite sketch she dictated to police closely resembled Dedge.

"The issue is does that composite sketch look like Dedge? Jury No. 1 thought it did. Jury No. 2 thought it did. Should we punish them?"

What about the state using the "innocence doesn't matter" argument to block the DNA testing?

"I don't think we were saying it (innocence) wasn't relevant," Wolfinger said. "I think we were talking about time frames. I think it's a legal thing. I don't know. . . ."

He blasted Dedge's lawyers.

"The bottom line is they had evidence that could exonerate him and two months ago they objected to it being tested," Wolfinger said. "If it weren't for (the state attorney's) office asking for this DNA test, he might still be in jail for years. I'm proud of this office for having that test done."

He continued, indignant. "If I knew I had semen of my client that is innocent and it could prove his innocence, would I let him languish in prison? No! Absolutely not. I'd ask for the test."

"That is just a big fat lie," Hirsch said. He said he had argued that before the judge ordered another test, he should rule on whether the pubic hair evidence warranted a new trial.

A last-minute wrinkle emerged 10 days before Dedge was released. A woman who knew Dedge as a teenager gave prosecutors a statement, accusing him of raping her 26 years ago. She said she was 14 and said she didn't report it because she was afraid.

The state did not investigate her allegation because the statute of limitations had long since expired. Her statement went into Dedge's file.

"When people make complaints, it becomes part of the public record," Wolfinger said. "Right now it's just an allegation. But all that's ended. There's nowhere it could go."

Dedge did not know about the allegation. He said he didn't do it.

His lawyers investigated and provided affidavits from two witnesses who contradict the woman's statement. They say it's a shame to tarnish Dedge's reputation after everything he's been through.

Trish's sister said Trish did not want to be interviewed about Dedge's release or about the pain of discovering, after all these years, that whoever raped her was never called to account.

Wolfinger said Trish still wants her attacker pursued but said it will be a tall order to find him after 22 years. He said it's up to the public to help solve the crime.

"If anyone sees someone who looks like Dedge or that composite picture," he said, "certainly they should call the sheriff's department."

* * *

Epilogue

The guys at his brother's metal fabrication plant chipped in $300. A lady sent a $100 coupon for Wal-Mart. Someone in the checkout lane at Publix handed him $10. A dentist offered free service. Someone sent him $5,000 anonymously through a church.

"I'm not used to all this kindness," Dedge said.

Seven job offers streamed in, many in the wastewater and water plant businesses. But he's not ready for a full-time job. He's working for a concrete business and in home improvement.

"I'm not quite ready to be tied down. I'm trying to stay busy so I don't have to think about it. Sometimes, I listen to the radio when I'm driving down the road just to keep from thinking. Basically, I'm trying to put it behind me."

Leading the effort to compensate Dedge for his lost 22 years is Sandy D'Alemberte, a former legislator and Florida State University president whose office is next door to the Florida Innocence Initiative. The law caps claims against the state at $100,000; to get more, the Legislature must pass a special claims bill.

Dedge's attorneys say they intend to file a civil rights lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment. J. Cheney Mason, an Orlando lawyer, said he is investigating whether Zacke, the snitch, was planted on the prison transport bus to get Dedge to talk. Zacke has said that prosecutors from the Dedge case fed him information to make another case, against Gerald Stano, an accused serial killer who was later executed.

Zacke was sentenced to 180 years in 1982. By testifying against others and with good behavior, he is due to be released in January 2006.

Dedge says he's trying not to focus on how wrong the justice system treated him. Like his parents, he believes it best to live in the moment.

"I don't want to have a bad attitude. It's there in the back of my mind, but I don't want to dwell on it right now. I'm having too much fun with new things.

"I'm very, very disappointed. There's anger there. But I can't dwell on anger or I'll mess up my life. I'm trying to enjoy things instead of dwelling on anger."

Hirsch vents for them both. He has called the prosecutors' actions "moronic," "monstrous, shameful" and "Orwellian."

"When Wilton got out, he was pleased and forward-looking and capable of not dwelling on the bitterness of the past," Hirsch said.

"But when it occurs to me that some prosecutors got up the next day and put on their pants and go to work and prosecute the next Wilton Dedge defendant with no consequences and no change in the criminal justice system, I can't get past that."

Dedge is focused on learning to be a grownup. For 22 years, he hasn't paid rent or an electric bill. Others told him what to wear, what to eat. He lives with his parents and wants an apartment of his own.

He walked around an island of belts at JCPenney recently, finally settling on a brown one with two rows of metal-lined holes running the length. It cost $19.99.

"We'd make these in leathercraft," he said, pointing to a cognac-colored braided belt. "Cost me about $4 to make."

A woman trying to pick a belt for someone asked Dedge his belt size. "He's bigger than you are," she said.

He's heard that before.

He turns 43 next Sunday. His once-long blond hair is cropped above his ears. He displays a soldier's stoic countenance - except when he looks at his parents and his eyes soften, a little.

People approach, and he wonders what they really want. He looks for the bad rather than the good.

It has been awkward going from guilty to innocent of doing something so awful.

"Sometimes, I'm self-conscious about how I act around people. Like women, I'm thinking, "Should I do this? Or will they take this the wrong way?' Out of the blue it will pop in my mind: I wonder if they're thinking I did this or not."

He regrets that he didn't get to marry and have kids. He has a girlfriend but isn't sure about children.

"I don't want to be an old man going out to play ball with my kid." He thinks it unwise to bring a life into a world where he just got a bank account.

Two weeks after his release, driving the '88 Nissan his father gave him, Dedge stopped at a red light in Titusville. A sheriff's deputy pulled up alongside, waiting for the light, just like him.

For the first time since Dedge got out, he was afraid.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report, which includes information from court records, State Attorney's Office files, Milton Hirsch's files and Florida Today.


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Reply with quote  #90 

oldbill you have just posted an unbelievable account of an innocent American man who spent over two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit.

 

New scientific safeguards that are now in place such as DNA and linguistic experts casts a very dark cloud not only over in the US judicial system but also here in the UK.

 

You may or may not have read our new E-zine (http://www.ferrismckay.co.uk) perhaps you will note the similarities of both cases with false witnesses of which I do not know what is the more evil of the two.

 

The REAL perpetrators of these horrific crimes or the ones that lied to save their own neck so thank you for your time and effort in bringing yet another miscarriage of justice to light.

 

The ferrisconspiracy team.


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