Murder conviction reviewed by police
Jailing of corrupt detective raises doubts about 22 cases
The case of a man jailed for the murder of a businessman is under review after a senior detective involved in the inquiry was convicted of stealing from his police force, it emerged yesterday.
Kevin Lane, who has always denied murdering businessman Robert Magill, 44, is hoping that the jailing earlier this month of Chris Spackman, who was a detective inspector, will lead to his own acquittal.
His is one of more than 20 cases which Hertfordshire police, the crown prosecution service and the criminal cases review commission (CCRC) are investigating after the conviction of Spackman, who was said in court to have acted like a "seasoned fraudster".
Lane was convicted of shooting Magill as he walked his dog near his home in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, in October 1994. Magill was shot five times, twice in the head, at close range.
The police believed Lane, then 26, was a professional hitman paid up to £100,000 to murder Magill. Despite what prosecutors conceded was flimsy evidence, Lane was convicted during his second trial, the first jury having failed to agree on a verdict.
After the case Lane was dubbed "the executioner" by some newspapers and linked to other killings, including that of Charlie Wilson, the great train robber murdered on the Costa del Sol in 1990. One report claimed he had links with the Russian mafia.
After the murder of the television star, Jill Dando, it was claimed - falsely - that detectives went to him to ask whether her killing was the work of a hitman.
Lane, who is regarded by the Home Office as one of Britain's most dangerous men, has long claimed that Spackman, the officer in charge of his case, was determined to convict him at any cost.
Lane believes his name may have been given to the police by the "real" killer. He says his underworld connections and a criminal record allowed the police to fit a case around him.
In a letter seen by the Guardian and sent to the CCRC last month, Lane described Spackman - an ambitious detective sergeant at the time of the Magill murder - as a "corrupt officer, hell bent on forcing a conviction against me".
He said Spackman had told him in the past that he would "have me one day" and claimed the former policeman suppressed vital details which undermined the prosecution's case. He also alleged Spackman put undue pressure on his co-accused, Roger Vincent, who was acquitted of involvement in the murder.
The CCRC confirmed it was examining the Lane case. It could send the case back to the court of appeal. A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said 22 cases involving Spackman, who had been a policeman for 26 years, were being examined.
Spackman, 46, was jailed at the Old Bailey for plotting to steal £160,000 from Hertfordshire police, money which had been seized from criminals and was supposed to be used to fight crime.
The court was told how the married father-of-three had diverted money into the building society account of a woman he was besotted with.
He took the woman on a shopping spree in Harrods and on holiday in Mauritius, bought her a £18,000 VW Golf and a £7,000 beautician's course and helped set her up in business.
Crispin Aylett, prosecuting, said: "The lengths he went to, the lies he told and the documents that were forged would have been worthy of a seasoned fraudster."
Judge Brian Barker told Spackman, who admitted conspiracy to steal, theft and misconduct in office, that he was responsible for a "disgusting catalogue of crime and lies".