History > 2009 > UK > Justice (I)
Tulay Goren's father
given life sentence
Mehmet Goren must serve minimum of 22 years
for killing daughter after kidnapping,
drugging and tying her up
Thursday 17 December 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 20.54 GMT
on Thursday 17
A version appeared on p1 of the Top stories section of the Guardian
on Friday 18
A woman whose husband was jailed today for murdering their
15-year-old daughter 10 years ago in an "honour killing" is living in fear of
reprisals after she gave devastating evidence against him.
Tulay Goren was killed in January 1999 for running away from home to live with
her boyfriend, a fellow Turkish Kurd twice her age whom her family disapproved
of because he was from a different branch of Islam.
Today, at the end of a dramatic and emotional 11-week trial, Mehmet Goren was
given a life sentence, with a minimum of 22 years, for killing his daughter
after kidnapping, drugging and tying her up. Her remains, which police believe
were buried in the family garden temporarily, have never been recovered, making
this one of only a handful of murder convictions secured without a body.
The prosecution claimed Mehmet's brothers Ali, 55, and Cuma, 42, helped him in
the murder after a "family council" decided that she and her forbidden lover
must die. But the Old Bailey jury were not convinced and cleared the brothers of
any involvement in her murder.
Tulay's mother Hanim, whose testimony against her husband was crucial to the
prosecution, was too afraid to attend court for the rest of the trial. Last week
police installed additional security measures in her home and that of her
surviving daughter, Nuray, also a prosecution witness. Yesterday, Nuray praised
her mother for testifying. She said: "No one should fail to realise what this
means within our culture. These people do not forget."
She added: "For my father, I have only one request. I ask that he finally
discloses the whereabouts of my sister. I wake up at night wondering where Tulay
may be. In quiet moments during the day I ask myself if she suffered or knew
what was in store for her."
Experts have said the breach of the code of honour, or namus, that detectives
believe led to Tulay's killing could also apply when a woman speaks out against
The case marked the first time prosecutors have used expert witnesses in an
"honour" crime. They described how the system worked among Turkish Kurds and
highlighted features of the Goren case – such as the loss of her virginity to
her boyfriend, a loss of family honour that triggered the murder – which
paralleled similar murders in Turkey.
Police believe there are 12 "honour killings" a year in Britain, and a quarter
of the victims are under 18. Police and prosecutors introduced new measures to
protect and punish perpetrators in the wake of pubic criticism of failings in
the case of Banaz Mahmod, who sought police help before she was killed by her
father and uncle in 2006. Risk assessment measures identifying cases where
victims may be vulnerable are now flagged up in police stations, police receive
training in "honour" violence, and there are now prosecutors who specialise in
Sentencing Mehmet to life, Mr Justice Bean told him that his attempts to portray
himself as an enlightened family man had not worked. "Your enigmatic smile
conceals a violent and dominating personality," the judge said. "The victim was
a child of 15 with her whole of her life before her. You were in a position of
trust as her father. You planned her murder with considerable care."
Speaking about the day Tulay was killed, the judge went on: "You instructed your
family to leave the house, telling her eight year-old brother to kiss her
goodbye because he would never see her again. I was not surprised to be told
that this moment has haunted him ever since."
An "average, normal or unexceptional murder" carries a 14-year sentence but the
judge said Tulay's killing had many aggravating features, including planning,
and was similar to racially or religiously aggravated killings.
Detectives came to believe that Mehmet killed his daughter as early as March
1999, when Hanim told them of her suspicions. But the Crown Prosecution Service
advised against charging him because they could not rule out the possibility
that she was still alive. At that time "honour killing", particularly in the
Turkish and Kurdish community, was an alien concept to police and public. But
when the case was re-examined in 2007, it followed the successful prosecutions
of similar murders. In 2003 an Iraqi Kurd, Abdulla Yones, was jailed for life
for killing his 16-year old daughter, Heshu, and in 2007, the father and uncle
of Banaz Mahmod were given life imprisonment for her murder.
Gerry Campbell, of the Met's violent crime directorate, said
the lessons learned had "galvanised us to know and understand honour-based
Tulay Goren's father
given life sentence for 'honour killing', G, 17.12.2009,
Convicted child murderer drugged and killed 18-year-old,
• Body of missing teenager found in defendant's garden next to
body of murder victim, jury hears
• Peter Tobin, serving life for rape and murder, denies second murder
Monday 14 December 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 15.51 GMT on Monday 14 December
It was last modified at 15.55 GMT on Monday 14 December 2009.
The convicted rapist and child murderer Peter Tobin drugged
and murdered an 18-year-old school-leaver before burying her in his back garden
next to the body of another teenager he had killed, it was alleged at Chelmsford
crown court today.
Tobin, 63, murdered Dinah McNicol after picking her up as she was hitch-hiking
home from a music festival in August 1991, the court was told. Her body was
found 16 years later, buried in the garden of 50 Irvine Drive, in Margate, Kent,
where Tobin was living at the time of McNicol's disappearance.
Peter Tobin pleaded not guilty to murdering 18-year-old Dinah McNicol.
Photograph: Strathclyde Police/PA
Buried just feet away, also wrapped in bin bags, was the bisected body of
15-year-old Vicky Hamilton, who had disappeared in February 1991. Tobin has
already been convicted of Hamilton's murder and is serving a life sentence.
He denies killing McNicol. A trial on the same charge in June this year was
halted after Tobin became ill.
The jury of three women and nine men would hear evidence that traces of
amitriptyline, a sedative drug, which Tobin was being prescribed at the time of
the murder, had been found in her body, William Clegg QC, prosecuting, said.
Vicky Hamilton had also been drugged with amitriptyline.
Clegg said the earlier conviction was relevant "as it demonstrates a propensity
to abduct young girls, administer the drug amitryptiline to them, murder them
and bury their bodies in rubbish sacks. There cannot be many people in this
world who share those propensities".
Tobin was also convicted in 1994 of rape and buggery of a 14-year-old girl and
indecent assault on another, after he had drugged both of them with the
McNicol's body was too badly decomposed to show evidence of rape, the court
heard but, said Clegg, "there was clearly a sexual motive behind the abduction
and murder of Dinah".
Tobin's fingerprints had also been found on three of the bags in which McNicol's
body had been wrapped, Clegg said, adding that the jury would hear from David
Martin, Tobin's neighbour at the time, who had seen him digging the hole into
which McNicol's body was placed. "Having seen how deep the hole was Mr Martin
joked to the defendant that he was digging to Australia," said Clegg.
Tobin, dressed in a black shirt and dark trousers, sat behind a screen, a few
feet from McNicol's elderly father Ian, and other family members.
McNicol, a bright school leaver who loved to travel, was last seen on 5 August
1991, when she left the music festival in Liphook, Hampshire, to hitchhike to
her home near Chelmsford with David Tremlett, a man she had met at the festival.
They accepted a lift from a man who dropped Tremlett off first at Junction 8 of
the M25, Clegg said, leaving McNicol alone in the front seat with the driver.
"We will seek to prove that that driver was in fact this defendant and that he
not only abducted Dinah but murdered her."
Clegg said that in August 1991 Tobin had an arrangement with his then estranged
wife Cathy Wilson that he would travel to Portsmouth, where she lived, on a
Friday to collect their young son Daniel, and return on Monday to drop him off
after spending the weekend with him in Margate. His return journey would have
brought him past the spot where Tremlett and McNicol were picked up, he said.
The jury were told that on turning 19 in June 1991, Dinah had been awarded
£2,700 as compensation for the death of her mother in a car accident, and that
as someone who was "frugal with money", she was keeping the money for her future
In the days following her disappearance large sums of money were withdrawn from
ATMs on the south coast. The first withdrawal was in Margate, Clegg said, "just
a short distance from where this defendant then lived". Other withdrawals were
from banks in nearby Ramsgate, in Brighton, where Tobin had previously lived on
and off over a period of 20 years, and in Portsmouth.
"The only three towns in England known to have been associated to this defendant
at the time were the towns where her bank card was used to steal money from her
account after her abduction."
The case continues.
murderer drugged and killed 18-year-old, court told, G, 14.12.2009,
Arsonist who killed three-year-old girl jailed for life
Graham Heaps told he must serve a minimum of 28 years in
for murdering toddler by setting fire to her family home
Tuesday 8 December 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 13.54 GMT on Tuesday 8 December
It was last modified at 14.10 GMT on Tuesday 8 December 2009.
A man who killed a three-year-old girl in a house fire during
a revenge attack at the home of his former girlfriend's family was today jailed
for life for murder.
Graham Heaps, a 44-year-old labourer, was told he would not be eligible for
parole for at least 28 years after the "wicked, vengeful, and cowardly attack",
which killed Francesca Bimpson.
Her parents and three siblings survived the fire with less severe injuries.
Heaps was convicted on Monday by a jury at Liverpool crown court of murdering
the girl at her home in Liverpool last December. He was sentenced today.
The trial judge, Mr Justice Henriques, told Heaps: "Your shocking, wicked act of
setting fire to a family home with four children asleep in their beds was, in my
judgment, motivated by sheer spite.
"It was a vengeful and cowardly attack on a family of six in their own home.
"They are a loving, close unit who did not deserve to be cursed by your
"Your intent was, I believe, to burn – that is, to kill – this whole family in
their beds as they slept."
Francesca suffered 85% burns when she was unable to escape the smoke and flames
and hid underneath a blanket. Petrol had been poured through the letterbox and
ignited. She was rescued by firefighters but died from complications as a result
of her burns in hospital three weeks later, on 23 December.
The jury heard that Heaps, who had had a relationship with one of Francesca's
aunts, Linda Skelhorne, started the fire deliberately. The couple were woken by
Francesca's father, Kieron Bimpson, 37, jumped from a first-floor window,
leaving his panic-stricken partner holding their 17-month-old baby, Anne-Marie.
Although he was injured in the fall, he was able to reach the front of the
property and climb on to a porch canopy to try to rescue his eight-year-old
daughter, Christina, who shared a bedroom with Francesca.
The children's uncle, Frankie Skelhorne, who lives nearby, heard about the fire
and kicked the front door in to find his sister in the main bedroom holding her
baby "in a state of panic".
Christina lacked the strength to lift Francesca to safety from the front
bedroom, and her father was unable to reach her before the guttering gave way
Another sibling, 14-year-old Kieron Bimpson, jumped from a bedroom window. He
also was unable to help his sister.
The court heard Heaps was an onlooker at the scene and briefly entered the house
in an apparent rescue attempt, during the course of which he set his trousers
alight. But he was attempting to destroy petrol on his clothing, and there was
no good reason for him to be there.
A fire crew reached the house four minutes after receiving the emergency call.
When Francesca was removed from the house, she was breathing faintly but had
Heaps was found lying face down on the lawn outside the house. Nearby was an
empty plastic fuel container that was on fire. He had suffered burns and was
semi-conscious. He was later cautioned and arrested while in hospital.
It later emerged that he had been in a relationship with Linda Skelhorne that
ended acrimoniously. He had stolen a sim card from her mobile phone and,
according to the prosecution, "bombarded" her sister Eleanor with obscene text
messages and phone calls. Eleanor Skelhorne, 37, broke down while giving
evidence against Heaps and the trial was adjourned briefly after she launched a
verbal assault at him.
Heaps had told police he had visited a takeaway on the night of the attack, yet
CCTV footage disproved this claim, the court heard.
Earlier, the court heard that Heaps had a career of petty crime and burglary
stretching back 30 years to when he was a teenager.
Some jurors covered their faces with their hands as victim impact statements
telling of the family's grief were read out.
"We are as a family trying to understand the murderous actions of a callous,
vengeful, selfish coward who must be severely punished for his heinous crime,"
part of one statement read.
"The endless flashbacks and helplessness, emotional and physical pain and
suffering is almost too much to bear. We went to sleep on a December night
looking forward to Christmas and awoke in hell."
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Naylor, of Merseyside police, said the
investigation had been traumatic for everyone involved and that the defendant
had lied throughout the inquiry and the trial.
He added: "He [Heaps] has never once shown remorse for any of his actions. He
has never shown any sympathy to any of the family at all for the trauma he has
"I hope today's verdict and sentence has been some justice for Francesca and her
Outside court, Mr Bimpson said: "There will never be a fitting justice for our
baby. Her life was cruelly and prematurely taken by a coward."
He paid tribute to the tremendous courage and dignity of his other children and
Francesca's father said he was pleased with the 28-year jail term but added: "A
hundred years, a million years, would not be long enough."
Arsonist who killed
three-year-old girl jailed for life, G, 8.12.2009,
Teacher, 39, jailed for sex with 15-year-old pupil
Religious education teacher paid for boy to have tattoo during
Wednesday 25 November 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 14.37 GMT on Wednesday 25
It was last modified at 16.10 GMT on Wednesday 25 November 2009.
A religious education teacher who admitted 10 charges of
engaging a 15-year-old pupil in sexual activity has been jailed today.
Madeleine Martin, 39, of Knutsford, Cheshire, admitted beginning a week-long
relationship with the boy, who was under 16 at the time, when she appeared in
court in September.
Today she was sentenced to 32 months in prison at Manchester Minshull Street
crown court. Martin was also suspended from her job at a Greater Manchester
school, which cannot be named for legal reasons.
The court was told that Martin had qualified as a teacher four years ago and
first met her victim in September 2008.
The pair began communicating via the Facebook social networking website and
their contact escalated into a sexual relationship.
On 9 February she asked the boy to do something that would remind him of her
when they were apart. She drove him to a tattooist and paid for him to have
"Mad" and a heart etched onto his skin.
They then drove to a secluded area, where they had sex. The boy quickly decided
to end their involvement and told Martin.
He eventually told his mother what had happened and she immediately reported the
matter to police in April.
Judge Jonathan Geake told her: "It is clear that your life came to a very low
ebb. Unhappily it was against that background that you were trusted with
mentoring this young teenage boy who himself was vulnerable in the sense that he
was having his own difficulties at school.
"It is clear from the way in which the prosecution presented that case that
rather than mentor him in the proper way, you used him as an emotional support
and comfort for yourself rather than the other way round.
"You started to abuse the trust you were entrusted with. Eventually you lured
him into intimacies which should never have happened and which you now admit
should never have happened."
Mark Fireman, in mitigation, said his client had brought "shame on herself and
her family" and had lost her career, and her friends. He said at the time of
sexual contact she was going through a "very difficult time in her personal
life". Her relationship with her husband had ended, and her sister was suffering
from terminal cancer and eventually died.
"The matter left her extremely depressed and perhaps vulnerable to thoughts and
actions that would not have normally have taken place."
He added: "It is an incident that she bitterly, bitterly regrets. She knows that
she has caused great harm."
In a victim impact statement, the boy said he had been taunted by his fellow
pupils and had not returned to the school. He also said he was embarrassed to
show people the tattoo Martin had encouraged him to get. His mother told the
court that her relationship with her son had suffered, and that he had become
lethargic and lost interest in his hobbies. She added: "He has lost the sparkle
he always had."
Outside court, Detective Sergeant Dave Moores of Tameside Child protection unit
said: "Martin's actions will leave emotional scars on her victim and his family
and have also impacted on the wider community.
"I would like to praise the bravery of the victim in speaking out and ensuring
justice was done for him.
"I am satisfied that she has been given the sentence she deserves and hope this
will send a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated."
He added that Martin would remain on the sex offenders' register.
Teacher, 39, jailed
for sex with 15-year-old pupil, G, 25.11.2009,
Policeman jailed for murdering constable fiancee
Martin Forshaw bludgeoned Claire Howarth with hammer
staged car crash to look like accident, court told
Monday 23 November 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 13.13 GMT on Monday 23 November
It was last modified at 14.00 GMT on Monday 23 November 2009.
A policeman has been jailed for at least 18 years for
murdering his police constable fiancee and trying to hide the act with a staged
As his trial was due to start at Manchester crown court today, Martin Forshaw,
27, of Tottington, Bury, changed his plea to guilty. Forshaw used a lump hammer
to bludgeon his girlfriend, Claire Howarth, 31, at least five times a few hours
before they were due to fly to St Lucia for their wedding five days later. He
carried her downstairs at their home in Tottington and put her in her BMW car.
Prosecuting, Ray Wigglesworth QC said Forshaw drove around secluded country
lanes in the area before staging a fake road accident and dialling 999.
Forshaw placed Howarth, who was still alive, in the driver's seat. He sat beside
her with his foot on the accelerator and crashed the vehicle into a hedge.
When police and paramedics arrived at the scene Forshaw, known to friends and
family as Alex, told them his fiancee had not been wearing a seatbelt.
She was taken to Royal Bolton hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Forshaw had been a serving police office with Cheshire constabulary since
November 2003 and was an expert in self-defence and violent persons training.
Howarth had joined Greater Manchester police in March 2007 and had just
completed two years' probation with the force. She had been appointed as a
community beat manager in Rochdale.
The couple had been in a relationship for 10 months and were set to fly to
London Gatwick airport on the day of Howarth's death for a connecting flight to
the Caribbean island where they were to be joined by family and friends.
Wigglesworth said there was evidence that Forshaw had still been seeing the
mother of his four-year-old son and had kept the pending wedding a secret from
some of his colleagues.
A postmortem examination showed that Howarth suffered multiple injuries
including 14 separate injuries to her head and neck.
Forshaw told detectives that Howarth had attacked him with the mallet and was
struck while he tried to defend himself. Pathologists ruled that account
Policeman jailed for
murdering constable fiancee, G, 23.11.2009,
Husband with chronic sleep disorder strangled wife during
Prosecution asks jury for not guilty verdict
because Brian Thomas dreamed he was tackling an intruder inside camper van in
Tuesday 17 November 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 18.48 GMT on Tuesday 17 November
A devoted husband strangled his wife while having a nightmare
that she was an intruder who had broken into the camper van they were sleeping
in, a court heard today.
Father-of-two Brian Thomas, 59, and his wife, Christine, 57, had parked their
van in a pub car park while on holiday, Swansea crown court was told.
He dreamt that an intruder was in the van, reached out to tackle the offender
but instead strangled his childhood sweetheart and wife of 40 years.
The court heard Thomas, from Neath, south Wales, suffered from a chronic sleep
disorder that meant he was not in control of his actions.
Thomas sobbed in the dock as a recording was played of the 999 call he made just
minutes after strangling his wife.
In the distraught 3.49am call, he said: "What have I done? I've been trying to
wake her. I think I've killed my wife. Oh my God. I thought someone had broken
"I was fighting with those boys but it was Christine. I must have been dreaming
or something. What have I done?"
When police arrived he told them: "She's my world."
Thomas told officers that "boy racers" had been performing wheelspins and
handbrake turns in the car park in the seaside village of Aberporth, south-west
Wales, where he and his wife had first parked in July last year. They moved on
but Thomas dreamt one of them was in the van.
Paul Thomas QC, prosecuting, said: "He became convinced that one of these youths
had broken into the van and a fight erupted in which he grabbed one of them in
"But it must have been a dream, he said, because there turned out to be no
intruders and the person he had seized by the throat was his wife."
He said the prosecution was not seeking a verdict of guilty to murder because of
medical evidence about his chronic nightmare problem.
Thomas told the jury: "This is a highly unusual case. The defendant accepts he
caused the death of his wife, but the prosecution do not seek a verdict of
guilty to murder or manslaughter.
"Instead, very unusually, we seek what is called a special verdict – a verdict
of not guilty by reason of insanity."
For almost 50 years Thomas had been prone to episodes of sleepwalking and other
sleep-disorder behaviours, the court heard
Detectives were sceptical when Thomas claimed he had been asleep. But scientists
specialising in sleep disorders conducted a series of tests and agreed his
behaviour was consistent with the "legal concept of automatism".
Thomas said: "In other words, at the time of the killing the defendant was
asleep and his mind had no control over what his body was doing."
The barrister stressed it was not being suggested Thomas was insane in the
"everyday sense of the word".
He said: "This was a case of insane automatism – because the sleeping disorder
the defendant had suffered from since childhood was 'part of him' and not
something that could be cured."
The jury was told they had a "straightforward choice" of clearing him of murder
or finding him not guilty by reason of insanity.
His defence team argued it was "non-insane automatism" brought on by the stress
of the youths in the car park.
Elwen Evans, QC, defending, said the disturbance from the speeding cars caused
the couple "significant levels of stress".
Thomas denies murder. The case continues.
Husband with chronic
sleep disorder strangled wife during nightmare, NYT, 17.11.2009,
Two ringleaders of child abuse network jailed for life
Men led largest paedophile ring in Scotland,
responsible for 125,000 images and videos and abuse of friends' children
Thursday 29 October 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 13.43 GMT on Thursday 29 October
Lothian and Borders police handout photos of James Rennie
(left) and Neil Strachan, the two ringleaders of Scotland's biggest paedophile
gang, who were jailed for life today. Photograph: Lothian and Borders Police/PA
Two men have been jailed for life for masterminding a child abuse conspiracy
that included an "utterly appalling" attack on an infant boy and the assault of
a three-month-old baby.
Neil Strachan, a convicted sex offender, was sentenced to life with a minimum of
16 years in prison while his co-accused James Rennie, once an influential youth
worker, was jailed for life with a minimum of 13 years at the high court in
Both men were given "lifelong restriction" orders, using powers introduced in
2006 for the most serious and violent sexual offenders, which will place them
under risk assessment and management plans until they die.
Strachan and Rennie were ringleaders of Scotland's largest paedophile network,
involving eight men who held 125,000 images and videos of child abuse. The ring
was broken up in 2007 after a lengthy operation by Lothian and Borders police.
Six other men have already received sentences ranging from two to 17 years.
The judge, Lord Bannatyne, said the pair were guilty of gross and appalling
breaches of trust since both men had abused children entrusted to them for
babysitting by close friends, and had photographed the abuse.
Strachan, 41, who is HIV-positive, had attempted to sodomise one 18-month-old
boy on New Year's eve, taking a photograph known as the "Hogmanay image".
Bannatyne said: "By its very nature, what is shown in that photograph is utterly
appalling and would shock to the core any right-minded person who has had to see
"Over and above that, this offence involves the most gross level of breach of
trust. You were invited into a house, treated as a friend of the family, and
then entrusted with their child. You then breached that trust in the way shown
in the 'Hogmanay image' in order to satisfy your base sexual interests. This, in
my judgment, can be properly described as a dreadful crime."
The judge added: "You were in my view on the evidence a central player in this
dreadful crime. You were one of the principal movers in the conspiracy."
Rennie, 38, had betrayed the parents of his victim, a three-month-old baby known
as Child F who was also his godson, to a "truly appalling" extent by assaulting
him over a four-year period.
Bannatyne likened Rennie, then co-ordinator of the gay rights agency LGBT Youth
Scotland and a former teacher, to a spider "weaving an electronic web" to set up
and then control their conspiracy..
The betrayal of Child F's parents "is truly appalling in its extent. These
people had always stood by you; they had been there for you; given you their
friendship; brought you into their lives and into the lives of their child (you
were made their child's godfather); and they entrusted their child to you to
look after. What did you do? You wholly betrayed that friendship and breached
their trust in the grossest manner."
The pair, both from Edinburgh, were convicted of a string of child pornography
charges, along with the six men previously jailed, and were further found guilty
of conspiring to abuse children, as were three other members of the network,
after a 10-week trial earlier this year.
Convicted for nine offences, Strachan, 41, was also jailed for attempting to
rape the 18-month-old boy and sexually assaulting a six-year-old boy. Rennie,
38, was convicted of 14 offences including molesting a young boy over more than
four years, beginning when the child was aged three months.
Bannatyne imposed a restriction order, similar to a life sentence, on both men
as likely to "seriously endanger the physical wellbeing of a member of the
public", and banned them from ever working with children.
The police investigation, Operation Algebra, used techniques pioneered in the US
to identify digital cameras used for some images and recover emails from
Microsoft using US court warrants. Sophisticated tracking equipment was used to
trace Rennie's wi-fi broadband at his home.
The board of LGBT Youth Scotland said today there was no evidence any of the
youths assisted by their agency were assaulted by Rennie, and "whole-heartedly
welcomed" the convictions. It added: "LGBT Youth Scotland abhors any abuse of
children and young people's rights. It is with a particular sense of betrayal of
our organisational purpose and values that we learned of the crimes committed by
James Rennie, and we are utterly appalled by his abuse and exploitation of
Two ringleaders of
child abuse network jailed for life, NYT, 29.10.2009,
Bounder with a barrister's wig preyed on women from lonely
hearts page ads
• Conviction halts 30-year fraud spree of 'King Con'
• He wined, dined and told of celebrity 'friends'
Monday 26 October 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 21.53 GMT on Monday 26 October
A version appeared on p11 of the UK news section of the Guardian on Tuesday 27
Not for nothing was Paul Bint known as "King Con". Armed with
a charming manner, a boundless reserve of deceit, a wig, a gown and a wing
collar, the 47-year-old swindler wooed and defrauded a series of women by
masquerading as a prominent criminal barrister, and when it suited him, as the
director of public prosecutions himself.
Today,Bint's 30-year crime spree came to an abrupt halt – not for the first time
– when he was found guilty of five counts including fraud, theft and driving
A jury at Southwark crown court heard that over the years Bint adopted a roll
call of false professions and identities – hotelier, aristocrat, ballet dancer,
banker, doctor, playboy, police officer and property magnate – to "worm his way
into the hearts and homes" of many victims. He was, one barrister said, a man
whose inability to exist in the real world fuelled fantasies that made "Walter
Mitty look like a nine o'clock news reader".
Previously, Bint has been convicted of 155 offences and asked for nearly 350
others to be considered. Among them were 44 frauds and "kindred" crimes, 81
thefts or similar misdemeanours, offences against the person and property,
brushes with the law relating to police, courts and prisons, and various
For his latest campaign, Bint used the lonely hearts section of a newspaper and
the internet to meet women whom he wined, dined and swindled by posing as the
DPP, Keir Starmer QC, or a junior criminal barrister, Jonathan Rees. He told his
victims he was friends with Robbie Williams, had socialised with Pierce Brosnan
and had been married to actor Sarah Alexander.
He promised one woman a Caribbean holiday until he became convinced that her
affections lay elsewhere. To avenge the perceived slight, he scrawled "bitch" on
the side of her home, blamed his potential rival, claimed the man had repeatedly
assaulted an ex-girlfriend, and convinced her to dump him.
Riel Karmy-Jones, prosecuting, said that by the time they realised who Bint was,
he had misused a credit card belonging to one woman and stolen a bracelet from
another. But the fraudster, who owned up in court to a 30-year criminal career,
insisted he had done nothing wrong.
The jury disagreed, convicting him of five counts committed between 27 April and
5 May this year.
Two were for fraud by false representation – cheating a taxi driver of a £60
fare and using a credit card belonging to one of his victims. The others were
for stealing a bracelet, burgling the robing room at St Alban's crown court and
stealing a barrister's laptop, and test-driving a £59,000 Audi R8 while
He was cleared of seven credit card frauds, and four of driving while
disqualified, including one on the judge's direction.
The court heard that on one occasion, Bint used ones of his legal alter egos to
dodge the taxi fare, telling the driver he was Starmer, that his wallet had been
stolen and he would pay him back. The irate cabbie later went to the offices of
the DPP to confront the real Starmer, and had to be placated by his secretary.
Karmy-Jones told the court the fraud and deception was "motivated first and
foremost by gain for himself in financial terms and also creature comforts … But
perhaps a rather close second to this was a need to increase his own sense of
"He was a conman, a confidence trickster, a man who, it seems, had no legitimate
source of income other than state benefits and what he could scavenge off his
victims, principally women, by abusing their confidence and trust."
He needed the "right name" and chose the DPP's most of the time. "You can
imagine the effect that, together with the role of successful criminal
barrister, might have," said Karmy-Jones.
Bint told the court one reason for his "continual performances" was that he
cared deeply about what people thought of him. "It is a very big issue in my
life. I want people to think, 'He is obviously a good person'."
Bint, who was born in Northampton, said he had been abused as a child, but did
not blame this for his behaviour. "I know there are people who go through these
experiences and don't lead the kind of life I've led," he said. "But it was a
period in which I suffered … at the hands of people who I believed loved me."
Bint, whose first crime was stealing fishing equipment when he was 15, told
jurors: "I lived in an absolute dream world and it started back then … I started
to pretend to be other people. I used to daydream about living in a big house
and having people around that loved me."
At 16, he "started to act out my dreams", by burgling Northampton general
hospital, stealing a stethoscope and imagining he was a doctor. By the age of
21, his medical fantasies had led him to don a white coat and tour hospitals in
north-west England. During one incident, he groped a woman and said: "Trust me,
I'm a doctor."
He arranged X-rays, attended a man with a collapsed lung, put 12 stitches in
another patient's head, tried to bluff his way into a heart bypass operation,
authorised blood transfusions and dispensed drugs. In Leeds he attended to a
17-year-old car crash victim and told her parents she would be fine. She died
six hours later.
Bint, of no fixed address, who has been diagnosed with an untreatable
psychopathic condition, will be sentenced on 3 November.
Bounder with a
barrister's wig preyed on women from lonely hearts page ads, G, 26.10.2009,
Life for killer who stabbed father travelling to see
Amateur boxer died at Croydon hospital where partner gave
Friday 2 October 2009
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 12.44 BST on Friday 2 October
A killer who stabbed a young father in the heart as he was on
his way to see his newborn son was jailed for life at the Old Bailey today.
Amateur boxer John "King" Abbey, 26, was with his three-year-old daughter when
he was attacked at a bus stop by Charles Acquaah in January.
He died an hour later at the Mayday hospital in Croydon, south London – where
his partner had given birth earlier that day.
Acquaah, 22, of Croydon, was told he would have to serve a minimum of 15 years
in jail after being found guilty of murder. Judge Stephen Kramer told him: "You
armed yourself with a knife in case you saw him. You put it up your left sleeve.
"On January 29, you took out the knife and deliberately stabbed him in the chest
and through the heart." The murder left Abbey's children without a father, said
The judge said he was satisfied that the two men had been friends who had
arrived in Britain from Ghana and then fallen out.
Abbey's partner, Natra Abokar, 29, said in a statement that she feared for the
future of the son born on the day of his father's death. "On every birthday, the
past – and King's death – will come up like a terrible nightmare," she said.
Of her daughter, she said: "She saw her daddy killed in front of her own eyes.
She saw a man she knew as her daddy's friend hurt and kill him."
The court heard that the little girl had told her mother that "Junior" – as
Acquaah was known – "put the knife in daddy's chest".
Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said there had been trouble between the two men in
the months leading up to Abbey's death, and the murder was an "act of pure
revenge". They had met by chance at the bus stop in London Road, Croydon, when
an argument broke out.
Abbey boxed for Ghana in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and remained
in the UK afterwards. He was short of money and got a job with a recycling
centre, using his friend Acquaah's details.
Acquaah had allowed him to have his wages paid into his bank account, but Abbey
changed the arrangement after finding some of the money was missing. Acquaah
then made allegations against him and threatened to kill him.
Abbey was forced to resign from the job, said Altman.
Detective Chief Inspector Cliff Lyons said outside court that it was a "sad and
shocking case", and described the killer as "heartless and spiteful".
Life for killer who
stabbed father travelling to see newborn son, G, 2.10.2009,
Mass murder at 30,000 feet: Islamic extremists guilty of
airline bomb plot
September 7, 2009
From Times Online
Three men were found guilty today of conspiracy to murder
thousands of passengers and crew in an unprecedented airline bomb plot that
could have proved as deadly as the 9/11 attacks.
After a retrial at Woolwich Crown Court, jurors found the ringleader, Abdulla
Ahmed, and two other men, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain, guilty of plotting to
blow up airliners en route from Heathrow to the United States.
Another defendant, Umar Islam, was found guilty of a more general charge of
conspiracy to murder because jurors could not decide whether he knew of the
specific targets in the plot three years ago.
Three other men, Arafat Khan, Ibrahim Savant and Waheed Zaman, were found not
guilty of conspiracy to blow up aircraft but could face a retrial on the more
general conspiracy to murder charge because jurors could not reach a verdict.
The eighth defendant, Muslim convert Donald Stewart-Whyte, was found not guilty
on all charges but had pleaded guilty to a firearms offence.
Ali, 28, was the leader of an East London terror cell inspired by al-Qaeda, the
court heard. He had planned to detonate home-made liquid bombs in suicide
attacks on transatlantic aircraft bound for major north American cities.
It was the most complex and daring British-based terrorist conspiracy in modern
times and could have caused thousands of deaths in the air and on the ground.
Counter-terrorist police, the security services and prosecutors spent more than
£35 million foiling the plot and bringing Ali to justice.
The arrest of the gang in August 2006 sparked tight restrictions on carrying
liquids on to aircraft that led to travel chaos and which remain largely in
place three years later, although detectives complained that their operation had
been compromised by the fact that news of the plot had leaked out from
The guilty verdict will come as an enormous relief for Government ministers who
endured heavy criticism for introducing the draconian luggage restrictions.
It will also be seen as a vindication of the decision to retry Ali after he was
found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions last September. The previous jury
at the South London court failed to reach verdicts on the specific airline plot.
British-born Ali, of Walthamstow, was inspired by the July 7 bombers and Osama
bin Laden and considered taking his baby son on his suicide mission.
He planned to smuggle home-made bombs disguised as soft drinks on to passenger
jets run by United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada.
The hydrogen peroxide devices would have been assembled and detonated in mid-air
by a team of suicide bombers.
Ali singled out seven flights to San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Washington,
New York and Chicago that departed within two-and-a-half hours of each other.
Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic would have been left powerless to stop
the destruction once the first bomb exploded.
Police said the plot was drawn up in Pakistan with detailed instructions passed
to Ali during frequent trips to its lawless border with Afghanistan.
They believe a mystery al-Qaeda bombmaker was responsible for the ingenious
liquid bomb design, concealed within 500ml Oasis or Lucozade bottles.
Surveillance teams watched Ali on his return to Britain as he assembled his
terror cell, gathered materials and identified targets.
Undercover officers looked on as the unemployed former shop worker used cash to
purchase a £138,000 second-floor flat in Forest Road, Walthamstow.
They planted a secret bug that revealed it was converted into a bomb factory
where Ali met others to construct the bombs.
The flat was also used as a location for Ali and others to record suicide videos
threatening further attacks against the West.
In his video Ali warned the British public to expect "floods of martyr
operations" that would leave body parts scattered in the streets.
Ali was watched as he used public phone boxes, mobile phones and anonymous
e-mail accounts to keep in touch with mystery terrorist controllers in Pakistan.
On his arrest, he was found to be carrying an elaborate and damning blueprint
for the plot scrawled in a battered pocket diary. Airport security arrangements
and details of flights, including the seven highlighted services, were
discovered on a computer memory stick in another pocket.
All the defendants except Mr Stewart-Whyte, a Muslim convert, admitted
conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and will be sentenced next Monday.
The jury took a total of 54 hours and 11 minutes to reach their verdicts in the
Ali, wearing a dark blue sweater, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read
out, while Hussain nodded his head as the verdicts were read and shrugged his
shoulders as he left the secure dock at the back of the court.
Mr Stewart-Whyte looked to the ground as he was cleared before smiling.
Judge Mr Justice Henriques thanked the jury for their service over the last six
months of the trial and encouraged them to attend the sentencing hearing on
Charges in full
Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain
Guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions on aircraft, conspiracy to murder,
conpsiracy to cause explosions and conspiracy to cause public nuisance.
Guilty of conspiracy to murder; conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. Jury
failed to reach a verdict on conspiracy to cause explosions on aircraft.
Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Khan, Waheed Zaman
Guilty of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. Not Guilty of conspiracy to
cause explosions on aircraft. Jury failed to reach verdicts on conspiracy to
Not guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions on aircraft and conspiracy to
murder. Admitted firearms and cannabis possession charge.
Mass murder at 30,000
feet: Islamic extremists guilty of airline bomb plot, Ts, 7.9.2009,
Brothers, 12 and 10, plead guilty to attack on schoolboys
Victims, aged nine and 11,
were robbed, sexually assaulted and burned with cigarettes in Edlington, South
Thursday 3 September 2009
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 13.40 BST on Thursday 3
It was last updated at 16.44 BST on Thursday 3 September 2009.
Two brothers aged 12 and 10 today admitted carrying out a
brutal attack on a pair of young boys during which they tortured, robbed and
sexually assaulted their victims.
The brothers – who cannot be named for legal reasons – were in foster care when
they lured their victims, a boy aged nine and his 11-year-old uncle, to
semi-wild parkland on the edge of Edlington, a former pit village near
Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on 4 April this year.
The boys were subjected to what prosecutors at a previous
hearing called a "horrific, violent, sustained physical attack" involving
bricks, sticks and a noose.
The victims also suffered cigarette burns and were forced to perform a series of
sexual acts on each other.
Today at Sheffield crown court, where their case was sent to be tried in the
adult judicial system, the pair admitted grievous bodily harm with intent,
robbery, and forcing a child to take part in sexual acts.
Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, described the offences as "grave crimes".
The two separately admitted one count each of assault in connection with an
attack on another 11-year-old boy on 28 March.
The grievous bodily harm charge was submitted as an alternative to an earlier
attempted murder allegation, which the brothers denied.
"It has been explained [to the victims' families] that although the offences are
not of the same gravity, the maximum sentence for causing grievous bodily harm
with the intention so to do is the same for that of attempted murder," Campbell
"Each [family] has understood that the acceptance of these pleas would mean that
their sons do not have to give evidence."
The maximum sentence for grievous bodily harm with intent is life imprisonment.
The crime prompted deep shock in Edlington and nationwide, and evoked
comparisons with the 1993 murder of two-year-old James Bulger by Robert Thompson
and Jon Venables, who were 10 at the time.
It also raised fresh questions for the children's department of Doncaster
council, which was taken over by a new Westminster-appointed management team a
month before the attack.
The takeover was imposed after case reviews were ordered into the deaths of
seven babies and children in the area over a five-year period.
At the time of the attack, the perpetrators had been living with a foster family
in Edlington for several weeks, but critics said they should have been in secure
care given previous complaints about their behaviour.
The younger victim of the attack was found wandering through Edlington in a
traumatised state, with blood on his face and a severe cut on his arm down to
Soon afterwards, the 11-year-old was found, unconscious and partially naked, at
the bottom of a ravine.
Prosecutors believe part of a sink had been smashed against his head. His
injuries were so severe that he was taken to hospital by air ambulance and spent
two days on a ventilator.
The younger boy told police that he and his uncle had been lured to the Brick
Ponds parkland with the promise of seeing dead wild animals.
According to testimony from the nine-year-old – which was recounted to a court
hearing several days after the crime and has not, until now, been able to be
reported – the attackers then robbed them of money and a mobile phone.
The case was heard in one of the smaller rooms in the crown court and the judge,
Mr Justice Keith, wore a suit rather than wig or robes in an attempt to make the
setting less intimidating.
The brothers sat in the main section of the court rather than the dock. The
older defendant, wearing a dark shirt and tie, and with close-cropped dark hair,
spoke clearly and confidently when answering the charges, but at times appeared
restless, shuffling in his seat and yawning on a couple of occasions.
His considerably smaller and slighter younger brother, also with dark hair and
dressed in white shirt and dark tie, answered the charges more hesitantly and
appeared at times to have difficulties following the proceedings. At one point
his barrister asked for a pause in the case so matters could be explained to the
The judge told them the situation was clearly "very strange for you, and I can
tell you it is pretty strange for us lawyers to have boys your age in a court
He said the prosecution would outline details of the case at a future sentencing
With the comparisons to the Bulger case have come questions about whether boys
so young should appear in an adult court.
The age for presumed criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10, much
lower than in many other European countries.
Brothers, 12 and 10,
plead guilty to attack on schoolboys, G, 3.9.2009,
Debbie Purdy: 'We've got our lives back'
Campaigner triumphant after Lords victory to clarify law on right to die
Friday, 31 July 2009
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
Debbie Purdy, who has dedicated her living days to winning the
right to plan her death, made legal history yesterday when five law lords backed
her landmark appeal to have the law on assisted suicide clarified.
The 46-year-old campaigner, who has multiple sclerosis, was "ecstatic" after the
peers unanimously supported her call for the Director of Public Prosecutions to
spell out the circumstances in which her husband or someone in a similar
position might face prosecution for helping a loved one end their life abroad.
Having lost twice in the High Court and Court of Appeal, yesterday's decision
brought huge relief. Flanked by her husband, the Cuban violinist Omar Puente,
and to cheers from her supporters, Mrs Purdy said after the ruling: "I'm
ecstatic. I am eagerly awaiting the DPP's policy publication so that we can make
sure what we do does not risk prosecution. I think people are beginning to
realise now that this is not about a right to die; it is about a right to live.
"It feels like everything else doesn't matter and now I can
just be a normal person. It's terrific. It gives me my life back. We can live
our lives. We don't have to plan my death."
Responding to the ruling, the DPP Keir Starmer, QC, said prosecutors would start
work immediately to produce an interim policy by September, followed by a public
consultation before the final policy is published next spring. "This is a
difficult and sensitive subject and a complex area of the law," he said.
"However, I fully accept the judgment of the House of Lords. The Crown
Prosecution Service has great sympathy for the personal circumstances of Mrs
Purdy and her family."
The decision will bring relief to scores of people facing
similar dilemmas. More than 100 UK citizens with terminal illness or facing
intolerable suffering have travelled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland with
friends or relatives to end their lives. No one has been prosecuted but the risk
is always there. Under the present law, anyone who helps facilitate a suicide
faces up to 14 years in jail.
Giving judgment in Mrs Purdy's case yesterday, the law lords said the DPP should
be required to set out an "offence-specific policy", identifying the facts and
circumstances that he would take into account in deciding whether it was in the
public interest to prosecute under the Suicide Act.
Experts said the ruling meant it was no longer acceptable for the DPP to decide
what was a crime on a case by case basis and that after he had set out the
principles that would exclude prosecutions for compassionate assistance, the law
would effectively have been changed. But the law lords said the ruling did not
decriminalise assisted suicide, which was rejected after a highly charged debate
this month by peers in the House of Lords sitting as the second chamber of
Parliament and not as a court.
Mrs Purdy suffers from progressive multiple sclerosis which could mean she faces
an undignified and distressing death. That might be avoided if she were able to
travel to Dignitas to end her life peacefully.
Her dilemma was that unless the law was clarified she might be forced to end her
life sooner than she planned, while she was still able to travel to Switzerland
independently, to avoid the risk of her husband being prosecuted for assisting
her. If the risk of prosecution was sufficiently low, she could wait until the
very last minute before travelling with her husband's assistance.
The law lords said: "Everyone has the right to respect for their private life
and the way that Mrs Purdy determines to spend the closing moments of her life
is part of the act of living. Mrs Purdy wishes to avoid an undignified and
distressing end to her life. She is entitled to ask that this too must be
Campaigners hailed the victory as bringing an end to the "legal muddle" over
assisted suicide. Pressure for a change in the law has grown. The Royal College
of Nursing declared this month it was dropping its opposition to assisted
suicide and adopting a neutral stance.
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: "This historic
judgment ensures the law keeps up with changes in society and, crucially,
provides a more rational deterrent to abuse than a blanket ban which is never
Debbie Purdy: 'We've
got our lives back', I, 31.7.2009,
Man hacked off neighbour's head after hearing voices
Mentally ill Eric Cruz believed his victim was planning to
kill his 17-month-old son, court told
Monday 27 July 2009 14.51 BST
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 14.51 BST on Monday 27
It was last updated at 14.53 BST on Monday 27 July 2009.
A "deeply religious" man hacked off the head of his next-door
neighbour and put it in a wheelie bin after he heard voices telling him to
protect his toddler son, a court heard today.
Eric Cruz, 32, who has paranoid schizophrenia, launched the brutal assault
because of his delusional belief that the neighbour was planning to kill his
The Philippines-born biology graduate thought he was on a "mission to protect
children" and claimed saints would talk to him, Manchester crown court heard.
Another neighbour claimed he heard the repeated chanting of "voodoo, voodoo,
voodoo" from the Cruz household in the hours leading up to the attack.
Patrick McGee, 63, was stabbed 17 times with severe force as he answered the
door of his home in Crumpsall, Manchester, on the evening of 15 December last
Cruz then slashed at his neck and severed the head, which he carried outside and
placed in a bin in his neighbour's front garden.
Just 15 minutes later, Cruz, a warehouseman, dialled 999 and calmly told the
operator he had cut off the head of his neighbour.
The court was told Cruz misunderstood his neighbour's friendly nature as
intrusiveness, which had "fed into his delusions".
Sentencing him to an indefinite hospital order, Judge Michael Henshell said:
"This is a tragic case.
"Patrick McGee had worked all his life. Everything I have heard about him gives
me the clear impression he was a kind, gentle man, the perfect neighbour.
"He was welcoming to Eric Cruz and his family when they moved next door to him.
"Tragically Eric Cruz suffered from a mental illness, apparently for some time.
He heard voices. He had fixed and firm beliefs that voices were commanding him
to do various things.
"He believed he had a mission to protect children and believed it was necessary
for him to take the life of Patrick McGee to protect his own child.
"He was driven to that wicked and irrational act by the illness he suffers.
"The nature of that killing was so brutal that the effect on his family will
last for the rest of their lives.
"For a kind and gentle man to have his life ended in this way is really
Cruz admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. His not
guilty plea to murder was accepted by the crown.
Man hacked off
neighbour's head after hearing voices, G, 27.7.2009,
Police investigated over notes that could give Gilfoyle
July 24, 2009
From The Times
Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor
Prosecutors have been called in to consider charges of
perverting justice and official misconduct after The Times found notes that
indicate a convicted wife murderer is innocent.
The records, which were undisclosed at Eddie Gilfoyle’s trial, show that a
police doctor who examined his wife’s body estimated that she had hanged herself
at a time when her husband was away at work.
A chief constable has disclosed that, after The Times published the notes that
his force had said never existed, the Crown Prosecution Service was asked to
examine criminal sanctions. “Merseyside Police did refer the matter to the CPS
to consider the offences of ‘Doing an act that tends to pervert the course of
public justice and/or misconduct in a public office’. The advice to date, on the
facts known, [is that] there is insufficient evidence to support a prosecution
at this time,” Bernard Hogan-Howe, Chief Constable of Merseyside, wrote.
Gilfoyle’s lawyers and a former Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside, Alison
Halford, called on Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, last night to order an
The CPS said it had been asked by police to provide “early advice” rather than a
“full file” of evidence. It appointed as adviser a prosecutor from outside
Merseyside to ensure that the process was seen to be objective and independent.
By contrast, Merseyside Police has declined to call in any outside force.
Gilfoyle, 47, has been behind bars protesting his innocence since 1992, when his
wife, Paula, who was 38 weeks pregnant, was discovered hanged in their garage in
the Wirral village of Upton.
The handwritten notes have been repeatedly lost and found by Merseyside Police
and were not disclosed to a Police Complaints Commission investigator. The
documents come from an internal inquiry, conducted by the force soon after Mrs
Gilfoyle died, to learn from mistakes made by officers at her death scene. The
papers state that the police doctor who saw Mrs Gilfoyle’s body estimated she
had died six hours earlier, when her husband was at work as a hospital
During Gilfoyle’s murder trial in 1993, where they might have given him an
alibi, they stayed undisclosed. A jury convicted him of murdering his wife, 32,
after tricking her into letting him dictate a suicide note.
When in 1994 the Police Complaints Authority asked Lancashire Superintendent
Graham Gooch to review the murder investigation, he asked for the notes. Chief
Superintendent Edward “Ted” Humphreys, who headed the internal inquiry, said
that to the best of his recollection no notes had been taken. His assistant, a
detective inspector, recalled taking notes but said that they had been
Just before Gilfoyle’s appeal against conviction in 1995, partly on the ground
that the notes were unavailable, the papers were located and disclosed to the
defence. When The Times asked last year for the notes under the Freedom of
Information Act, Merseyside Police said: “Information is held that indicates
that no such notes ever existed.”After The Times discovered and published the
notes in February, the Information Commissioner cleared the force of
intentionally withholding the documents.
Mr Hogan-Howe said in a letter to Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat MP, that the
mistake occurred because freedom of information staff had found the old
statement suggesting there had never been any notes. The Times understands that
the missing papers were found to have been in the possession of Mr Humphreys.
In 1995 the Police Complaints Authority asked Merseyside to investigate possible
misconduct but, as he had retired, no further action was considered
proportionate. The Independent Police Complaints Commission says it has seen no
new evidence to justify a fresh misconduct investigation.
over notes that could give Gilfoyle murder alibi, Ts, 24.7.2009,
Former public schoolboy Isa Ibrahim convicted of planning
July 17, 2009
From Times Online
A former public schoolboy who converted to an extremist strand of Islam and
built a viable suicide bomb vest was convicted today of planning “carnage” at a
crowded shopping centre.
Andrew Ibrahim, 20, who changed his name to Isa in 2007 after his religious
conversion, was arrested after members of the Muslim community in Bristol became
concerned about his behaviour and contacted police.
Ibrahim, the son of a hospital consultant, was convicted of making an explosive
with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the UK in
He was also found guilty of a charge of preparing terrorist acts by purchasing
material to make an explosive, making that explosive, buying material to
detonate the explosive, carrying out “reconnaissance” before the act and “making
an improvised suicide vest in which to then detonate an explosive substance”.
Ibrahim was given an indeterminate sentence at Winchester Crown Court and told
that he should serve a minimum of 10 years.
Flanked by four prison officers, Ibrahim showed no emotion as the jury delivered
its majority verdict.
His mother fled the court in tears as the sentence was passed.
Ibrahim's conviction, after a month-long trial, has been hailed as the first
visible success for the Prevent element of the national counter-terrorism
strategy which tries to enlist the help of British Muslims in the fight against
The alert was raised when an imam contacted a Special Branch officer, who was on
a canal boat holiday at the time, and said that he was worried about the young
convert’s demeanour and language. He also mentioned seeing burn marks on his
Initially all police had was the first name “Isa” and the fact that he was a
Detectives found Ibrahim — who was homeless for a period after becoming a heroin
addict and estranged from his family — within 36 hours at the GP’s surgery where
he collected his methadone prescription.
Officers were making inquiries of the staff when Ibrahim walked in and was
After he was held, police discovered his flat on Comb Paddock, a cul-de-sac in
the suburb of Westbury on Trym where he had been manufacturing explosives,
wiring detonators and stitching a suicide vest.
A search of the flat in April 2008 revealed a quantity of the high explosive
Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine (HMTD) in a biscuit tin in the fridge, a crude
detonator circuit under the kitchen sink and the vest, with pockets to carry the
explosives, hanging on the bedroom door.
Further inquiries revealed that Ibrahim had filmed a test-firing of his
explosive mixture and stored the footage on his computer. CCTV footage from the
Broadmead shopping centre showed him making a reconnaissance trip during which
he made notes in his mobile phone. One piece of text read: “Food Court dense
Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Hazell of Avon and Somerset police told The
Times that without help from Bristol’s Muslim communities Ibrahim might not have
“Without that information I’m not sure we would have ever found him because he
was operating alone,” said Mr Hazell.
“If he had done what he was planning we would have had carnage in the centre of
“The community convinced me. If the community is uncomfortable, if they have a
gut feeling, then I’ve got to go with that.”
The city has a diverse Muslim population — with communities originating in
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Iraq, Algeria and Afghanistan — and 11 mosques or
meeting houses. Representatives of a number of communities expressed concern
Mr Hazell said: “They didn’t like his view of Islam, particularly his praise for
suicide bombers and were especially alarmed when he had a heated row with a
“The calls to us came in when he showed some people the injuries on his hands,
including marks from shards of glass, which he said were caused when a bottle
blew up when he was mixing chemicals”.
Mr Justice Butterfield told Ibrahim that, even though he had not made a
detonation device or completed the suicide vest, “your preparation to inflict an
atrocity on the innocent civilians of Bristol were advanced”.
“You are a dangerous young man, well capable of acting on the views you held in
the spring of 2008.”
He added that he considered Ibrahim to be a “continuing danger” to the public
but gave a substantial discount on the minimum term imposed due to the fact that
he had acted alone and because of his age.
“You were, in my judgment, a lonely and angry young person at the time of these
events, with a craving for attention,” said the judge.
Ibrahim was born Andrew Michael Philip, the younger of two sons of an Egyptian
father and an English mother who, although separated, both attended sections of
Nassif Ibrahim, a Coptic Christian, is a consultant pathologist at Frenchay
Hospital who, the court heard, collects antique pottery, stamps, coins and Nazi
memorabilia. Ibrahim’s mother, Valerie, works as an administrator at Bristol
University Medical School.
The would-be bomber was educated for a period as a boarder at Downside School,
near Bath, where Auberon Waugh was a pupil. His elder brother Peter is an Oxford
University graduate who is now studying to become a barrister.
But Ibrahim drifted into casual drug use at the age of 12 and by his late teens
was a heavy user of heroin and crack cocaine. He told the jury that his mother
had asked him to leave the family home after discovering his drug use. At the
time of his arrest he was selling the Big Issue to help pay for a £60-per-day
In court, Ibrahim denied making a bomb with intent to endanger life. He said
that he was making explosives to occupy his time while he struggled to come off
David Spens, QC, for the defence, asked the jury if his client was “an Islamic
extremist intent on carnage and mass murder in the heart of Bristol?” or “a
weak, lonely figure living much of his life in a fantasy world” and “a prat”?
The jury’s verdict was that Ibrahim was a would-be terrorist.
Mr Hazell added: “This is the first time that Prevent has led to the thwarting
of a suspected terrorist incident and shows the importance of building trust
Former public schoolboy
Isa Ibrahim convicted of planning 'carnage', Ts, 17.7.2009,
Double jeopardy killer Mario Celaire gets minimum of 23
July 3, 2009
From The Times
A footballer who killed his former girlfriend was sentenced to
a minimum of 23 years in jail today after becoming the first person in Britain
to be convicted of a crime for which he had been previously found not guilty by
Mario Celaire, 31, was retried because of the abolition of the double jeopardy
rule which had prevented anyone from being brought before a court twice for the
same crime. The law was overturned in 2005 for cases where “new and compelling
evidence” could be produced.
The new evidence against Celaire included a confession to his new girlfriend
that he battered Cassandra McDermott, 19, to death in November 2001. He pleaded
guilty to manslaughter and attempted murder in May more than six years after he
was cleared of the crime.
Today he was jailed for life at the Old Bailey with the tariff set at 23 years.
Celaire, a former player for Brentford, was with the non-league club Maidstone
United when he was arrested in 2007. He was known to the club’s fans as Mario
McNish, having changed his name the year before.
He began going out with Miss McDermott when she was just 15, repeatedly beating
her and once throwing her down the stairs.
She dumped Celaire after four years of abuse and met a new man but her
ex-boyfriend began stalking her.
A driving instructor told police how he followed her on lessons and said: “He
thought that if he couldn’t have her no one else would.”
Miss McDermott was killed while house-sitting for her mother Jennifer, a senior
probation officer, at her home in Norbury, south London, while she was on
holiday in the West Indies.
Celaire of Sydenham, south east London, had either punched her or pushed her
head into furniture, knocking her out. She choked to death on her own vomit.
He claimed in the first court case that Ms McDermott was alive and well when he
left her and the jury acquitted him of murder and manslaughter after
deliberating for less than three hours.
But in February 2007 he admitted the killing to Ms Hoyte, a part-time model,
after she found papers relating to the court case at a flat in Walthamstow, East
London. He then flew into a rage and struck her on the head with a hammer.
Doctors thought that Ms Hoyte would die from her brain injuries. But nine months
after the attack, despite paralysis down one side of her body and extreme
difficulties communicating, she was able to speak to detectives.
Prosecution lawyers applied to reopen the inquiry into Ms McDermott’s killing
and successfully got the acquittal quashed in the Court of Appeal.
The ends of the case marked the conclusion of an eight year fight for justice by
the family of Miss McDermott.
Sister Andrea McDermott, 30, said: “We knew Mario killed Cassie. Today we have
been vindicated. We have had to wait eight years for it - eight years of hell.”
Mother Jennifer McDermott said: “This double jeopardy will give people the
chance to say we can go back to fight again, we won’t give up."
killer Mario Celaire gets minimum of 23 years jail, Ts, 3.7.2009,
Teenager's murder conviction may be miscarriage of justice
Seven new witnesses say Sam Hallam was not at the scene when an Ethiopian chef
was killed by gang
Saturday, 13 June 2009
By Mark Hughes, Crime correspondent
A teenage boy sentenced to life in prison for a murder he says
he did not commit could have his conviction quashed after the emergence of new
evidence seen by The Independent.
Sam Hallam, from Hoxton in east London, was 17 when he was
jailed in 2005 for being part of a gang that beat to death Essayas Kassahun, an
Ethiopian chef. But now seven new witnesses have come forward with statements to
the Criminal Cases Review Commission suggesting Mr Hallam was not at the scene
of the crime, and was instead playing football half a mile away.
An eighth testimony, from a youth worker who sat in on police interviews with
teenagers arrested after Mr Kassahun was killed, alleges that three witnesses
told police during interviews that Mr Hallam was not at the scene – but that
this information was never disclosed to Mr Hallam's defence team.
Neither the police nor Mr Hallam's defence team requested mobile phone evidence
which could have helped prove his exact location.
If the CCRC decides the new evidence renders Mr Hallam's conviction unsafe, it
can recommend the conviction is quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Yesterday, in his first interview since conviction, Mr Hallam said: "I am
confident the CCRC will realise there has been a mistake because I will not
admit to something I did not do."
Essayas Kassahun, 22, was murdered on 11 October 2004, when he intervened as a
gang of 15 youths attacked his friend, Louis Colley. He suffered serious head
injuries and died two days later. Mr Hallam insisted he was half a mile away,
playing football with a friend. But the friend was said to be reluctant to
become involved in a police investigation, and did not confirm his alibi. Mr
Hallam was later named in a police witness statement by a girl who it is claimed
– after hearing rumours that a man called Sam was involved in the attack –
changed her original statement to say that Sam Hallam was one of the attackers.
This female witness also passed these rumours to a male witness, a friend of Mr
Kassahun's, who subsequently changed his statement, naming Mr Hallam as one of
the killers. But, at trial, the girl said she could not be sure Mr Hallam was
there, and said: "I was just looking for someone on the spot to blame, really."
The male witness said Mr Hallam was "the only white boy I know from Hoxton, so I
said it was Sam".
Mr Hallam was sentenced, at the age of 18, to life in prison, and told he must
serve a minimum of 12 years. Of his eight co-defendants, two were convicted.
Bullabek Ring-Biong, 20, was found guilty of murder, while a 17-year-old was
convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, and violent disorder.
After Mr Hallam's conviction, an appeal was launched, but with no new evidence,
Now a campaign group, led by Paul May – the man who helped free the Birmingham
Six and the Bridgewater Four, has contacted witnesses who were not approached
for the original trial. Most say they were at the scene, but that Mr Hallam was
not there. Two of these also cast doubt on the account of the female witness who
named Mr Hallam, saying she was not at the scene.
The CCRC has seen the evidence and has, as well as interviewing Mr Hallam,
interviewed the subject of his original alibi, as well as his original
solicitor, to find out why he did not call these witnesses. It is possible
investigators could also access police notebooks which may provide three other
accounts which place Mr Hallam away from the scene.
The CCRC will also seek to access mobile phone records which, if available,
could prove Mr Hallam was not at the scene – though these are routinely kept by
mobile phone service providers for only one year. Mr Hallam's campaign is
confident that, even without these, the witness statements should be enough for
the CCRC to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.
conviction may be miscarriage of justice, I, 13.6.2009,
Partner of man killed by Met officers calls for
investigation to be made public
Celia Stubbs launches campaign to release police document
about death of Blair Peach thirty years ago
Saturday 13 June 2009
Ten thousand people crowded into the East End cemetery on a
warm June morning to see his pine coffin lowered into the ground, 30 years ago
Blair Peach had been dead for 51 days. By the time the Metropolitan police
released the body for burial the anger about what happened to him had spread
across the world.
A 33-year-old teacher from New Zealand, he had almost certainly been killed by a
police officer, his skull crushed with an unauthorised weapon as he tried to
walk home from an anti-fascist demonstration.
The death had transformed Peach, an activist in the Anti-Nazi League, into a
political martyr. "I wanted privacy, but in the end I was glad it had become a
public event," said Celia Stubbs, his partner of 10 years. Now 68 and living in
Brighton, her recollections of that day still bring tears.
Today, coinciding with the anniversary of the funeral, Stubbs will launch a
campaign to release a secret police document produced by the Met commander who
investigated Peach's death. She is sure it holds the answer to the 30-year
mystery surrounding events on a surburban street in Southall, west London, on
the evening of 23 April 1979.
John Cass, who retired to live in Wales 20 years ago, has told the Guardian he
is not opposed to his findings being made public. Disclosure of the document
would finally reveal the names of the officers he considered suspects.
The Peach case was a seminal moment and, like the deaths decades later of
Stephen Lawrence and Jean Charles de Menezes, triggered a crisis in policing.
However, it was the death at the G20 protests in April of Ian Tomlinson, the
only person since Peach to have died at a demonstration after being attacked by
police, that compelled Stubbs to agree to a campaign run by Inquest, the group
that advises families of people who die in police custody.
Tomlinson, a 47-year-old newspaper vendor, died of internal bleeding after being
hit and shoved to the ground by an officer who has been questioned under caution
for manslaughter. He was cremated at the same cemetery where Peach was buried.
"When I saw that footage [of the Tomlinson attack], I instantly drew
comparisons," said Stubbs, a former social worker. "Then I thought: aren't
police supposed to have changed? It was like history repeating itself. But in 30
years technology has changed everything. Suddenly there it was, on film. That
would have changed everything in Blair Peach's case. The parallels with
Tomlinson make a public interest case for releasing the report."
The night he died
Peach had been attending a demonstration against the far-right National Front,
which had staged a controversial meeting in the heart of Southall's Sikh
community, the night he died. Like Tomlinson, he was trying to get home when
clashes broke out between police and protesters. Stubbs also attended the
protest, but amid the mayhem they never made contact.
Peach was alone after being separated from his friends at the moment he is
thought to have been attacked by a member of Special Patrol Group (SPG), whose
officers had spilled out on to the streets from parked vans. Eleven witnesses
said they saw Peach hit by at least one officer, and gave consistent accounts of
"There were two policemen, one with a shield, one without," one resident,
Parminder Atwal, told the inquest. He watched in horror as lines of police
chased demonstrators down his street and into his back garden. "As they ran
after people, Blair fell; I think he was pushed with the shield, as he was
overbalancing the other hit him on the head."
Police left a clearly disorientated Peach on the pavement, and it was left to
Atwal and other residents to get him to his feet and offer him water. "He
couldn't hold the glass," Atwal said. "His eyes were rolled up and his tongue
stuck up. He couldn't speak. He was deteriorating by the minute."
By the time Stubbs arrived at Ealing general hospital, around midnight, Peach
was dead. Devastated and in shock, Stubbs was taken to a police station, where
she was interrogated. "I was in such a dazed state and the police were really
bullying," she said. "I felt they were on the offensive, treating me like a
suspect. What was Blair's politics? Why was I at the protest? At the back of my
mind I already knew they had killed him."
Peach's death sparked an outcry, and national outpouring of grief. Thousands
marched past the spot where he died. The night before his funeral 8,000 Sikhs
attended his open coffin that lay in state at the Dominion Theatre.
The Met's then commissioner, Sir David McNee, was steadfast in the defence of
his officers. At a press conference the day after Peach's funeral, McNee told a
black reporter: "I understand the concern of your people. But if you keep off
the streets of London and behave yourselves you won't have the SPG to worry
about." Stubbs said the failure of the Met's current commissioner, Sir Paul
Stephenson, to acknowledge problems with the Territorial Support Group – the
successor to the SPG, now under investigation over Tomlinson's death – is one of
a number of disturbing parallels.
Peach and Tomlinson died after being confronted by police forming cordons, or
"kettles", before nightfall. In both cases, police were suspected of leaving
their victims on the floor.
"Public concerns about police tactics at the G20 demonstration reflect the
concerns we had after the Southall demonstration when Blair was killed," said
Stubbs. "I hope that lessons have been learnt from Blair's death and that the
Tomlinson family do not come up against the blank wall that we did. There must
not be a cover-up this time."
Now, as then, the Met stands accused of misleading the public over the actions
of its officers. As well as the criminal inquiry into Tomlinson's death, the
Independent Police Complaints Commission recently announced a separate
investigation into whether police withheld crucial suspicions surrounding his
death from the public.
"We've been requesting the report for 30 years," she said. "Perhaps now is the
time to help a democratic debate about police powers."
In 1979 the investigation was left to Commander Cass, who said his team of 30
investigators exhausted 30,000 man hours on the Peach case. A pathologist report
into Peach's death said his broken skull was not likely to have been caused by a
truncheon. Instead, he indicated he had been struck with a lead weighted rubber
cosh or hosepipe filled with lead shot.
When Cass raided lockers at the SPG headquarters he uncovered a stash of
unauthorised weapons, including illegal truncheons, knives, two crowbars, a
whip, a 3ft wooden stave and a lead-weighted leather stick. One officer was
caught trying to hide a metal cosh, although it was not the weapon that killed
Peach. Another officer was found with a collection of Nazi regalia.
Months later details of Cass's key findings were leaked. He was reported to have
identified a team of six SPG officers, at least one of whom he believed must
have struck the fatal blow. Recommending charges against the officers, his
report was also said to include details of how officers lied to his
investigators to cover up the attack.
However, no charges were ever brought, and the following year the coroner at
Peach's inquest controversially suppressed the Cass report. The coroner relied
heavily on Cass's findings to call and cross-examine police officers, but
refused to allow Peach's family lawyers access to the details.
"Our counsel were incredibly hampered because they didn't have the report," said
Stubbs. "That contained all the police statements – all the important inside
information. So our counsel were cross-examining the police witnesses blind."
The coroner was criticised for inappropriately guiding the jury, discouraging
them from being critical of the police. They returned a verdict of misadventure.
For Stubbs the outcome of the inquest was the ultimate betrayal. "Blair's
inquest amounted to a posthumous sentence of death upon a man who was on his way
home from a demonstration against the National Front and found himself in a
trap," she said. "Police chose to go berserk."
Months after the inquest an independent committee of lawyers and academics on
the National Council of Civil Liberties delivered its own conclusions on the
available evidence. It said: "The inescapable conclusion which follows from the
medical and the eyewitness evidence is that Blair Peach was killed by a single
blow deliberately inflicted by a member of Unit 1 or Unit 3 of the SPG."
However, the closest the Met came ever to admitting its involvement in Peach's
killing was in 1989, when the force paid £75,000 to his family in an
out-of-court settlement. Around the same time, lawyers were permitted to view
SPG officers' notebooks, which have since gone missing.
Last year the Met refused a request from a member of the public under the
Freedom of Information Act for the Cass report, claiming that releasing it could
jeopardise future prosecutions and "cause distress" to Peach's family. Neither
Stubbs nor Peach's two surviving brothers, however, were asked their opinion.
"They must know we've been after that report for years and we are not seeking
prosecution of officers – just the truth," said Peach's brother Philip, 67. "I
was led to believe the Cass report was quite fair and robust, so surely now is
the time for it to be made public."
Support for Peach's family seems to be mounting. Last month a Home Office
minister told Stubbs the government had "sympathy" with her campaign, but the
decision remained with the Met.
On Thursday parliament's joint committee on human rights added its weight in
calling for full disclosure of the report, arguing that it would assist its
inquiry into policing tactics at the G20 demonstration.
"If Peach's family are willing to see it published, that should be paramount,"
said Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon, the committee's chair. "In our view,
our understanding of the background to the policing of protest in London would
be assisted if we were able to study this report."
Thirty years on, the six officers said to have been named in the Cass report as
possible suspects are unlikely to want details of the investigation unearthed.
If they are still with the Met those officers will be nearing retirement and,
very possibly, senior ranking officers. There were no responses to attempts by
the Guardian to contact them this week.
However, contacted by telephone, former commander Cass, now 84, said he was not
opposed to his report being made public, and acknowledged Peach's relatives had
been "thinking about this for a lifetime".
"A lot of time has gone by," he said. "But if it was released now I've got no
qualms about it."
He added that he had "no animosity" toward the late Sir Thomas Hetherington, who
as Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to press charges against SPG
"I suppose I am sitting on the fence. You know, I've still got my loyalties to
the Metropolitan police."
Partner of man killed
by Met officers calls for investigation to be made public, G, 13.6.2009,
Ben Kinsella killers sentenced to life
Three young men told they will serve at least 19 years for
murdering 16-year-old schoolboy in London last year
Friday 12 June 2009
The three young men who killed 16-year-old Ben Kinsella were
today given life sentences at the Old Bailey in London.
Juress Kika, 19, Jade Braithwaite, 18, and Michael Alleyne, 20, from London,
were told they would serve minimum terms of 19 years for killing Ben, the
brother of the EastEnders actor Brooke Kinsella.
All three of the killers had criminal records and were described by police as
"depressingly familiar characters".
After the verdicts were read out, it emerged that Kika had been on the run from
police for 10 days after a robbery in which a man was stabbed.
Ben and his friends had been to a bar to celebrate the end of their GCSE exams
when a row broke out in Islington, north London, on 29 June last year. Although
the confrontation had nothing to do with him, Ben was chased along the street
with other youngsters and stabbed to death when he stopped running.He was
stabbed 11 times in five seconds by the three youths in revenge for the
"disrespect" shown to Braithwaite.
"I am overjoyed," Brooke Kinsella, 25, said after the verdict. "It's awful,
awful, but we got all we needed – it's justice. There is never going to be
enough justice, but we have got it now."
Her mother, Deborah, 46, told the judge: "We had brought Ben up to always walk
away from trouble. This sadly cost him his life ... He walked away to get safely
home and they took advantage of that – he was one boy on his own.
"We, as his family, have been left devastated and in total despair. Our whole
world has been totally turned upside down."
Ben Kinsella killers
sentenced to life, G, 12.6.2009,
Three found guilty of Ben Kinsella murder
• Brother of former EastEnders actor was stabbed to death
• Mother tells of wonderful son cruelly taken from family
Helen Pidd and agencies
Thursday 11 June 2009
Three young men were found guilty today of murdering Ben
Kinsella, the 16-year-old brother of the former EastEnders actor Brooke
Juress Kika, 19, Jade Braithwaite, 18, and Michael Alleyne, 20, were convicted
by a jury at the Old Bailey in London for the murder of Ben whose mother
described as a "wonderful son … [who had] values and respected everyone he met".
On 29 June last year he was chased and then stabbed 11 times in five seconds by
the three after they believed Braithwaite had been shown "disrespect" by the
victim's friends in a pub row in which Ben had played no part.
After the verdicts it emerged Kika had been on the run from police for 10 days
after a robbery in which a man was knifed on 19 June. All three of the killers
had criminal records and were described by police as "depressingly familiar
The 16-year-old and his friends had been in the Shillibeers pub in Holloway,
north London, to celebrate the end of their GCSE exams when what the police
described as a "stupid non-event" started that left Braithwaite's pride knocked.
Braithwaite had earlier bragged he would "stab people up" with a weapon
concealed in his waistband.
As Ben played no part in the confrontation he believed he was safe. When the
petty squabble continued out on the street, he and his friends ran away. But Ben
lagged behind, and the three men picked him out and chased him.
Cornered between a car and a van Ben pleaded with his killers: "Why are you
coming over to me for? I have not done anything."
But sports coach Braithwaite, whose street name was J-man, bragged, "Do you know
who I am? I have got a knife, you don't know what I can do with it," before
kicking Ben in the stomach.
As he collapsed the trio bent over him and repeatedly stabbed him.
The teenager died a short time later despite surgeons' efforts to save him.
Ben's mother, Deborah, told the Old Bailey judge of the pain that the loss of
her son had caused her family. In a statement she said: "The people who murdered
him knew nothing about our Ben, not a hair on his head, a bone in his body, not
anything about our wonderful son.
"They had never met him before or spoken to him, they just cruelly took his life
away with knives for no apparent reason. We had brought Ben up to always walk
away from trouble. This sadly cost him his life."
About 400 people joined the family to march against knife crime following Ben's
Braithwaite had previously been given a community order for an attempted
robbery. Alleyne was a convicted heroin and cocaine dealer who also had
convictions for robbery and possession of cannabis. Kika had convictions for
cannabis possession, robbery, affray and for restricting or obstructing a police
In her statement, Deborah Kinsella said: "We were a big, happy, loving family.
We are one down, one missing. We are hard-working and just wanted the best for
all our children in life. There are now just three of us at home.
"We have had to move house because it broke our hearts to not see Ben in his
bedroom curled up sleeping and safe in his bed.
"We so miss Ben's love and laughter and most of all the boy thing in our family.
Ben was our precious son that we cherished and were so immensely proud of, and
by the way we had brought him up …
"No parent or sibling should ever have to go through or see what we have seen
with our son. He died in front of us, we then had to visit him in a morgue, the
undertakers and finally to bury him. We can now only visit Ben at a cemetery,
our beautiful son who so loved life."
Sentencing will take place tomorrow.
Three found guilty of
Ben Kinsella murder, G, 11.6.2009,
Six youths from bicycle gang found guilty of murdering
June 9, 2009
From Times Online
A gang of six youths were found guilty at the Old Bailey today
of murdering a 14-year-old schoolboy stabbed in a park.
Shaquille Smith was attacked by a 10-strong bicycle gang called the London Field
Boys as he sat in the park in front of his home in Hackney, East London, in
August last year.
George Amponsah, 19, Godiowe Dufeal, 20, Amisi Khama, 18, all from Hackney, and
three 17-year-olds - Freddie Amponsah, Kadean Dias and Leon Atwell - were found
guilty of murder.
Shaquille had been sitting with a 16-year-old girl and a boy on the warm evening
instead of doing the dishes at home. His mother had let him off his daily chores
because she thought he would be safe with the older girl, said Aftab Jafferjee
QC, for the prosecution.
But the gang came into the park near London Fields soon after the trio arrived.
Mr Jafferjee said: “On the night, they were operating as a roving gang of youths
with violence on their minds.”
Within a short time, the friend had to run away, the girl was cut across the
neck and face and Shaquille was killed.
"He was an utterly blameless boy who said nothing and did nothing to anyone in
the park to cause offence, let along justify being murdered,” Mr Jafferjee said.
“Ordinarily at that time in the evening, that boy would have been doing the
dishes but, as he was with the girl, his mother did not call him back into the
house, confident that he would complete that chore before going to bed.”
The target of the gang was allegedly the 17-year-old friend, who had been
challenged about his brother, the court heard.
Mr Jafferjee said that when he confirmed his identity, one of the gang told him:
“Well, you are getting it.”
When the friend ran off with his dog, the attackers turned on Shaquille and the
girl, the court heard.
Shaquille was the 25th teenager killed in the capital in 2008.
The six were remanded to July 10 for reports before sentencing and Judge David
Paget warned they would all be given life terms.
He said: "I have to bear in mind not just the age of Shaquille but bear in mind
his total innocence."
He praised Shaquille’s family for its dignity during the trial. Shaquille’s
mother, Sandra Maitland, said in statement to the court:
"A knot is in our hearts that will not undo. A light has been dimmed and put out
of our lives. We never had a chance to say goodbye."
Six youths from
bicycle gang found guilty of murdering schoolboy, Ts, 9.6.2009,
Amateur boxers beat millionaire Frank McGarahan to death
June 9, 2009
From Times Online
Adam Fresco, Crime Correspondent
Two amateur boxers pleaded guilty today to beating to death a
millionaire who tried to intervene to help a stranger.
As chief operating officer of Barclays Wealth, Frank McGarahan, 45, had some of
the world’s richest people among his clients and managed assets worth £133
He had been in Norwich celebrating a christening and, in the early hours of the
morning, intervened when he saw a group attacking a tramp.
Two members of the gang, Tom Cowles, 22, and his brother Ben, 21, then turned on
Mr McGarahan, a father of two, was held in a headlock, punched in the head
several times and knocked to the floor.
One of Mr McGarahan’s brothers, Tony, was in Norwich Crown Court today as CCTV
footage of the incident was played.
It showed Mr McGarahan being attacked but managing to get to his feet. He then
staggered around before collapsing and lying motionless on his back.
It also showed Mr McGarahan’s brother, Kevin, being punched to the floor and
lying motionless. Mr McGarahan’s cousin, Sean Ryan, was seen being punched to
the floor as he tried to help.
Mr McGarahan, of Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, died the day after the attack in
September last year.
Mark Dennis, QC, for the prosecution said that Mr McGarahan had intervened after
witnessing a group of youths attacking a man “of down-and-out appearance” and,
with his brother and cousin, had approached the group with caution.
They asked what was going on and the CCTV footage showed them approach with
“non-aggressive intent”. They were met with abuse and told to “F*** off or you
will get some”. He said one of the group of youths had tried to justify the
attack on the down and out by saying: “You don’t know what he has done. He has
got what he deserved.” Mr Dennis said that Kevin McGarahan had then called the
group of youths “cowards”.
Shortly afterwards, Ben Cowles, a pipe fitter, “took a run” at Mr McGarahan and
punched the banker in the head, Mr Dennis added.
Cowles then attacked Kevin McGarahan, punching him in the head, before punching
Frank McGarahan again.
Mr Dennis said: “It was a blow which was followed a few seconds later by Frank
McGarahan’s sudden and dramatic collapse.”
Today the Cowles brothers, who were members of Norwich Lads Amateur Boxing Club,
admitted manslaughter. They had denied murder.
The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, told the court that he thought the prosecution’s
decision to accept a guilty plea to manslaughter was sensible and appropriate.
However, he said that he understood that the decision to accept the plea would
have been difficult for prosecution lawyers and for Mr McGarahan’s family.
Sentencing was adjourned until later this month and the brothers were remanded
At the time of Mr McGarahan’s death his family issued a statement, describing
him as a fair-minded man who could not stand by as someone was being attacked.
“He tried to break it up and paid with his life,” it said. ”He paid the ultimate
price for trying to be a good citizen.”
The statement went on: “Everyone who knew Frank remembers him as a caring, kind,
considerate, generous and funny man. He was a fantastic father to his two young
beautiful daughters, a loving husband to his wife, a big-hearted son to his mum
and dad and a brilliant brother and uncle. He was simply a great family man.
“We will never understand how or why anyone could murder such a decent, caring
and loving man. We will never comprehend it or truly recover from it.”
Amateur boxers beat
millionaire Frank McGarahan to death, Ts, 9.6.2009,
Conman Glenn Rycroft 'murdered lover over £5,000 debt'
June 9, 2009
From Times Online
Adam Fresco, Crime Correspondent
A prolific gay conman murdered his married lover after his
victim became suspicious that he was plundering his bank account, a court heard
Glenn Rycroft had previously conned family and friends out of £200,000 by
pretending he had a brain tumour and needed expensive treatment and also getting
them to invest in a bogus investment scheme.
The former British Airways steward admitted admitted 25 charges of obtaining
money by deception in December 2003.
Today the Old Bailey heard that Gareth MacDonald, 30, a married father of three,
left his wife to start a relationship with Mr Rycroft, 33, but began to suspect
that he was being robbed in 2007.
The couple endured a stormy relationship and in September 2007 Mr Rycroft
reported that he had found Mr MacDonald’s body in a Travelodge they had been
Mr Rycroft claimed he had left early in the morning and returned later to find
But today Crispin Aylett, QC, for the prosecution, said: “The defendant murdered
Gareth MacDonald by hitting him twice over the head with a fire extinguisher.
“Inside the room, Gareth MacDonald was lying face down on the bed. There was
blood everywhere as a result of two large, curved cuts to the back of Mr
“The weapon was still close at hand. On the floor, by the side of the bed, was a
blood-stained fire extinguisher. Gareth MacDonald had obviously been struck with
the base of the fire extinguisher. He had been struck with such force that he
was already dead.”
The prosecution claim Mr Rycroft killed Mr MacDonald, from Prestatyn, north
Wales, after he threatened to expose him over money that had gone missing from
The pair were on the way to meet an aunt and uncle of Mr Rycroft so he could pay
them back £5,000 he owed them at the time of Mr MacDonald’s death.
Mr Aylett described to the jury how, before meeting Mr MacDonald the defendant
had conned friends and family out of £200,000, none of which has been recovered.
In September 2000 he had convinced friends and family to invest in a “British
Airways Investment Bond” and they were promised returns of between 10 - 15 per
cent, the court heard.
Several people gave him a total of £144,000, including two women who gave him
their life savings to invest. Two months later he took unpaid leave and then
resigned from his job, claiming he had a cancerous brain tumour, the jury heard.
To make out he was receiving chemotherapy he shaved his head and told one
investor, his brother-in-law, that he was being insensitive asking for his money
back, it was said.
He also told close family and friends that he needed expensive medical treatment
only available in Australia and they rallied round, giving thousands of pounds
they could not afford, the court heard.
But the whole thing was a charade, the jury were told.
Mr Aylett said that all the while Mr Rycroft was living the high life and
travelling around the world. In just over a year, he said, he took eleven
holidays, to Florida, Bahamas, a golfing holiday in Portugal, to America and in
July 2001, on the pretext of getting treatment, went to Australia with two
friends, staying in expensive hotels.
Mr Aylett said it was important the jury knew the truth about Mr Rycroft so they
could decide on the character of the man when assessing his claims.
“This defendant has shown himself to be rather more than a common or garden
liar. He is, you may think, rather a good one. He persuaded a number of friends
and relatives to part with money in what must have been a convincing investment
“I suggested earlier that you might think that killing Gareth MacDonald to avoid
having to meet his aunt and uncle might be regarded as rather an extreme step to
take. On the other hand, this is a man who was prepared to claim to have cancer
in order both to make money and, no doubt, avoid being revealed as a fraudster.”
Mr Aylett told the jury: “The fact that the defendant has behaved dishonestly in
the past does not make him guilty of murder. On the other hand the prosecution
suggest that it is open to you to take account of this evidence in assessing the
truthfulness or otherwise of this defendant and the lengths to which he is
prepared to go in order to keep his head above water.”
Mr Rycroft, from Rhyl, Holywell, Clwyd, North Wales, denies murder.
The trial continues.
Conman Glenn Rycroft
'murdered lover over £5,000 debt', Ts, 9.6.2009,
Two sentenced to life in prison for stabbing French
students to death
• Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez knifed more than 200 times
• Jack Straw apologises for 'grave failings' in handling of case
Alan Travis, Owen Bowcott and Audrey Gillan
Thursday 4 June 2009
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 17.56 BST on Thursday 4
It was last updated at 18.41 BST on Thursday 4 June 2009.
Two men were sentenced to life today after being found guilty
of the savage murder of two French students who were tied up in their London
flat, tortured and stabbed 244 times.
Prosecutors described as "an orgy of bloodletting" the attacks in June last year
by Dano Sonnex, 23, from Peckham, and Nigel Farmer, 34, of no fixed address. The
bodies of Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23, were found after an
explosion sparked by the murderers setting fire to the flat in New Cross,
Sonnex will serve a minimum of 40 years and Farmer a minimum of 35 years.
At the time of the murders Sonnex was out on parole under probation supervision
after serving an eight-year sentence for violence and robbery.
Bonomo's mother, Lydie, said her son would still be alive today if not for the
blunders of the criminal justice system that let Sonnex go free.
The justice secretary, Jack Straw, has apologised in person to the families of
the victims and in February accepted the resignation of London's chief probation
officer over the "grave failings" in the handling of the case. Official internal
probation and police inquiry reports published alongside the verdicts today
identify a series of "serious management failings" by probation staff, the
police and nearly every other part of the criminal justice system.
Straw said that as justice secretary he took full responsibility for the
failings of the probation service. "Sonnex could and should have been in custody
at the time he committed these murders," he said. "It was the consequence of
very serious failures across the criminal justice system that he had not been
arrested and incarcerated some weeks before."
The supervision of Sonnex was left in the hands of a newly-qualified probation
officer who was struggling with a caseload of 127 offenders in the understaffed
Lewisham probation office where nobody had more than two years' experience.
Among the blunders was the failure to identify Sonnex as a high-risk offender,
that it took 33 days for a warrant to be issued to send him back to prison, that
the courts mistakenly released him on bail, and that even then the police failed
to go and look for him until the day of the murders.
On sentencing, Mr Justice Saunders told the Old Bailey the pair had only escaped
being jailed without chance of parole for the "truly horrific" murders because
of their young age.
He told the killers: "The misery and suffering that you have caused cannot be
measured. These are the worst crimes I have ever had to deal with and,
unhappily, no punishment that I can pass can ever bring any real comfort to the
"Only you two know exactly what happened, why it happened, and which of you
bears the greater blame."
At least half of the 12 jury members were in tears as they listened to the
prosecutor read out victim impact statements by the fathers of the two boys and
one of their mothers. Both men and women dabbed their eyes and some struggled to
Guy Bonomo's statement addressed his son's killers directly. He said: "We have
sat in court for the last six weeks, hoping for answers, trying to find out what
happened to our children. But you have lied in court and have refused to tell
the truth. This is what we have been waiting for. Without knowing what happened
that night and why, we cannot move on and find peace. I ask you again, why?"
Francoise Villemont, Ferez's mother, said: "How to carry on, to live and survive
after you have lost your murdered child in such inhuman conditions. He died
suffering in such a way; I could never forget what was done to him. This
barbaric act is indescribable and inexcusable. No human being deserves such a
death. To die for so little gain does not make any sense to anybody."
The jury was told that both of the accused were habitual users of drugs,
including crack cocaine, and Sonnex had a long history of violence. During the
trial each blamed the other for the killings.
Sonnex had been jailed for wounding with intent and robbery in 2003 and released
on licence in February last year. He was subsequently arrested for handling
stolen goods and had his licence revoked. Sonnex told the court he was back in
custody for "four or five weeks tops".
At the start of the trial Sonnex admitted one count of burglary, which Farmer
denied. Both pleaded not guilty to murder, arson, false imprisonment and trying
to pervert the course of justice.
Farmer chewed gum impassively as he listened to the jury foreman say that he had
been found guilty on all six charges by a majority of 11 to one.
Sonnex's face was fixed in a frown that he cast downwards, only intermittently
lifting it to look at the jury. As he was led from the dock he stared at Laurent
Bonomo's father and shrugged his shoulders before going down to the cells.
In his statement released at the end of the trial, David Scott, the former chief
probation officer of London who resigned over the case, said that "probation
risks becoming a Cinderella service unless urgent attention is paid to its
workload, over which it has few effective controls, as well as to its absence
from key decision-making about policy and resources".
He said the murders filled him with regret: "I took full responsibility for the
performance of the staff that I led, and tendered my resignation as soon as it
was clear that failings in the probation service were partly to blame for
allowing the crimes to take place."
Harry Fletcher of Napo, the probation union, said blaming individuals avoided
the acceptance of political responsibility. "Ministers should either fund the
criminal justice system and allow probation officers to do their job properly or
stop claiming they are protecting the public. Probation did receive additional
funds over the last decade but it did not result in extra probation officers."
Since the Sonnex case an extra 60 probation officers have been drafted into
London with a further 80 to be recruited this year. An urgent assessment is
being undertaken by the chief inspector of probation, Andrew Bridges, on the
rest of London probation.
Only three years after the similar Monckton murder case caused a national
outcry, probation chiefs insist that work with high-risk offenders in specialist
probation public protection units across the capital has improved. But the
failure in this case – where Sonnex was wrongly categorised as a medium-risk
offender – shows little improvement in general probation work in London.
Two sentenced to life
in prison for stabbing French students to death, G, 4.6.2009,
Life for rapist left free to attack women after police
• Kirk Reid may have been responsible for 100 attacks over 23
• Judge says 44-year-old could have been caught sooner
Thursday 4 June 2009 14.58 BST
Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 14.58 BST on Thursday 4
It was last updated at 14.58 BST on Thursday 4 June 2009.
A serial rapist who went unchecked for years because of police
mistakes was jailed for life today.
Kirk Reid, a women's football referee who police believe was responsible for
more than 100 attacks in 23 years, was told he would serve a minimum of seven
and a half years in prison before being entitled to apply for parole. The judge
criticised early police investigations – which left Reid, 44, free to stalk the
streets – and said Reid could have been caught sooner.
Reid, of Colliers Wood, south London, was sentenced for 28 attacks on 27 women,
including two rapes. He admitted two indecent assaults.
The rapes took place in 1995 and 2002, and the series of indecent assaults took
place between August 2001 and October 2007.
He also admitted two counts of possessing indecent images of children on his
home computer. But the judge at Kingston crown court said she was convinced
Reid's offending went back to 1984. He admitted raping a woman at that time in
evidence but it was not included as a charge.
"You have been committing these serious violent offences against women since
1984, and that means that your false self and your behaviour is deeply
entrenched within you," Judge Shani Barnes said.
"To say you have a hostility to women is stating the blindingly obvious. It is
not just a deep-rooted hostility against women, it is something very dark and
Detectives believe the 44-year-old was a prolific attacker and continue to
investigate whether he is behind a further 71 assaults. Police sources believe
that more than 100 women could have fallen victim to Reid.
Most of his victims were between the ages of 20 and 40 but Reid's youngest
victim was 17 and the eldest a 61-year-old woman. The attacks include the rape
of a woman Reid grabbed on the street in March 2002 and the rape of a woman in a
flat in 1995.
Reid focused on the route of the 155 night bus along the A24 corridor in south
London. The bus service is used by many people heading home from central London
and passes several tube stations.
He waited until his victims walked into quiet side streets and they were often
outside their homes when he grabbed them from behind.
The Metropolitan police was forced to apologise to Reid's victims after it was
disclosed he was not arrested until four years after he became a suspect.
Officials at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are
investigating blunders that allowed him to remain free for so long.
Reid was the second serious sex attacker to slip through the police net, and the
case highlights investigative failures in London. A second inquiry is under way
into how taxi driver rapist John Worboys, who drugged and attacked his
passengers, evaded detection.
Both cases led to a shakeup of the way rape and serious sexual assaults are
investigated within the Met.
Life for rapist left
free to attack women after police blunders, G, 4.6.2009,
Murder or suicide? Eddie Gilfoyle's 16-year fight to clear
Gilfoyle hopes that new evidence about his wife's death will
lead to his vindication
Thursday 4 June 2009 14.07 BST
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 14.07 BST on Thursday 4
It was last updated at 14.07 BST on Thursday 4 June 2009.
It could be a run of the mill family get-together: a devoted
sister and her husband calling in on her brother to update him on the recent
graduation of their children. They sit in comfortable chairs around a small
table and, over coffee, proudly show him pictures of the event.
But this is no ordinary family gathering. The meeting is part of an odyssey that
began 16 years ago and will continue until the prisoner, Eddie Gilfoyle, is
cleared of a crime he says he did not commit; a crime which his supporters say
was never a crime in the first place. In a twist of fate, the brother-in-law,
Paul Caddick, is a former police sergeant who spent a career building up cases
against criminals. He has now used the last decade-and-a-half dismantling the
evidence that convicted his wife's brother of murder. Gilfoyle was jailed for
life in 1993.
In the evening of 4 June 1992, 33-year-old Paula Gilfoyle was found hanging from
a beam in the garage of the family home in Upton, Wirral. She was
eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Her husband, Eddie, had earlier returned from
work to find Paula missing and a suicide note in the kitchen. The marriage had
been through a difficult period and, believing the note to mean Paula was
leaving him, Gilfoyle drove to his parents' house to seek advice. He returned
with his parents and Paul Caddick who, finding the keys to the garage, made the
When other police officers arrived at the scene they had no doubt the death was
a suicide. A detective constable cut the rope and laid the dead body on the
floor. He later told investigators that his action was taken to "preserve her
dignity". Whatever the reasons, the officer's actions prevented an accurate
reading of the body temperature being taken, which could have established the
time of death, a factor that was later to be crucial. A subsequent police review
of the response to the death criticised the cutting down of the body, stating
that the action possibly destroyed valuable evidence. The report also criticised
the lack of photographs of the body and the scene.
Following Paula's death, members of her family approached the police saying they
did not believe she had taken her own life. In particular, two of her friends
said that Paula had told them that her husband was doing a course on suicide at
work – he was a hospital technician – and he had asked her to write suicide
letters, which he dictated. No such course existed and Gilfoyle has always
denied telling his wife that it did. Gilfoyle was arrested and a murder
The hearsay evidence of Paula's friends was not used in court, but there is
little doubt that it influenced the police to treat the death as murder. They
took the suicide note to Professor David Canter, a pioneer of criminal profiling
in the UK, who judged it to be fake. Although Canter's evidence was not put
before the jury at Gilfoyle's trial, it formed part of the prosecution case –
and was used in the opening address by the crown. Canter believes his opinion
influenced the CPS. Following Gilfoyle's conviction, Canter embarked on research
into suicide notes and now believes his original opinion was wrong. He now says
the note was "written, unaided, by Paula and is consistent with a very real
determination to kill herself".
At 11am on the morning of Paula's death, a wine canvasser, Maureen Brannon,
called on the Gilfoyles. She left the house at 11.20am. Whatever happened
afterwards, there is no doubt that Eddie Gilfoyle was at work – an eight-minute
drive from home – at around 11.30am, when two of his workmates recorded seeing
him arrive. He had alibis for the rest of the day and the prosecution's case was
that he killed his wife before leaving for work.
Nineteen days after Paula's death, on 23 June, a forensic scientist, Phillip
Rydeard was at the Gilfoyle home with the police. In a later statement, Rydeard
said he discussed the possibility of finding other significant evidence, "such
as ropes". Later that day a piece of rope was discovered tied into a slipping
noose in a drawer in the garage. This, the prosecution said, was a "practice
noose" used by Gilfoyle. On the same day, a local woman, Maureen Piper, told
police she had spoken to Paula in the local post office at 12.40pm on the day
After the murder conviction, a member of the Merseyside Police Complaints
Authority reported concerns over the force's handling of the case and a
detective chief superintendent from Lancashire police, Graham Gooch, carried out
a reinvestigation. He interviewed PC Cartwright, who conducted a search of the
garage four days after the death and reported: "PC Cartwright is adamant that
the rope was not there at the time. He recalls looking into the drawer in which
the rope was subsequently found and it was not there."
A Trial and Error documentary on Gilfoyle's case was shown on Channel 4 in 1996,
and the programme-makers were then sued for libel by a police officer. The case
came before the high court in 2002 and Channel 4 mounted a defence based on
their belief that the Merseyside police investigation into the murder of Paula
Gilfoyle was fundamentally flawed. The case was settled out of court. Channel 4
accepted that the officer had not behaved corruptly.
Afterwards, the two barristers who acted for Channel 4 wrote to the Criminal
Cases Review Commission expressing their concern at the conviction. Desmond
Browne QC and Matthew Nicklin wrote that the failure to allow the jury to
consider the evidence of Maureen Piper, in itself, "renders the verdict unsafe".
They listed nine alleged flaws by Merseyside police in their investigation into
the death and expressed their "real and substantial concerns about the safety of
In a report to the CPS, dated 13 July, DCI Baines, the officer in charge of the
investigation, wrote: "a witness claims to have seen Paula in the post office at
Moreton on the afternoon of her death. However, it was Paula's sister, Susan,
who was in the post office." On 9 October, 1992, the CPS wrote that they had put
Piper's evidence in the unused material because "the police believe she is
mistaken and that it was indeed Susan Dubost in the post office. Accordingly, it
appears Piper is mistaken in regard to her recollection."
Piper did not give evidence at Gilfoyle's trial. But she is still adamant that
she saw Paula Gilfoyle the day she died. She says a friend was with her at the
time and confirms her conversation with a pregnant woman. Piper also told two
other friends, the day after the death, that she "saw her yesterday in the post
Speaking to the Guardian in 2005, Piper said the idea of her mixing up the two
sisters, as suggested by the police, was ridiculous. "I have known them all
their lives and, in the first place, they don't look alike and second, one was
eight-and-a-half months pregnant," she said. "How could I be mistaken?" In his
first police interview – before Piper came forward – Eddie Gilfoyle told police
that his wife was intending to go to the post office that day.
Despite her certainty about the sighting, Piper believed Gilfoyle to be guilty
at the time of her interview. She had heard rumours that he had left his place
of work during the day and believed he had killed his wife in the afternoon.
Former police officer Caddick believes other people may have seen Paula that
day, either in the post office, or the Upton and Moreton locale. "Paula had an
antenatal appointment, which she failed to keep, at a clinic yards away from the
post office; other people may have seen her, without realising the significance
of the sighting," he said. Caddick urges anyone who saw Paula Gilfoyle on the
day she died to come forward, even if they have already spoken to the police.
Dr Bernard Knight is a retired professor of forensic pathology. He says that,
with the single, possible, exception of the Roberto Calvi case, he had not come
across an instance of murder by hanging in 38 years' practice. He says it would
be virtually impossible to hang a conscious person against their will without
leaving marks indicating a struggle. There were no such marks on Paula's body.
Gilfoyle's case has twice been referred back to the court of appeal, but his
claim to be a victim of a miscarriage of justice has been rejected.
Alison Halford was deputy chief constable of Merseyside when Gilfoyle was
convicted. She retired soon after and now advises the Conservatives on home
affairs. She has taken an interest in Gilfoyle's case and has visited him in
prison. She says his case has been "screaming out for justice for over 16 years"
and says she will continue to work for his release and to find out "why
Merseyside police treated him so shabbily". She also calls for "those
responsible for his wrongful conviction to be called to account". Ironically,
Halford was responsible for promoting Paul Caddick to sergeant and describes him
as a "fine officer who has lost a career because of the Gilfoyle case".
Gilfoyle's lawyer, Matt Foot, believes his client has been let down at every
stage of the criminal justice system and that there is nothing safe about his
conviction. "The more you look at his case, the more doubt emerges and his case
is one of the oldest miscarriages of justice," he said.
Gilfoyle says the worst factor of his wrongful conviction, and the 16 years he
has been in prison, is that he has never been allowed to grieve for his wife and
unborn child. " I loved my wife and it torments me to know that people believe I
could have harmed her. Our child, a daughter, would have been 16 now and every
day I wonder how she would have turned out," he said.
Murder or suicide?
Eddie Gilfoyle's 16-year fight to clear his name, G, 4.6.2009,
12-year-old girl gave birth after being raped
Teenage childminder to be sentenced after admitting attack
Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent
Wednesday 3 June 2009
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 16.02 BST on Wednesday 3
It was last updated at 16.02 BST on Wednesday 3 June 2009.
A girl aged 12 gave birth after being raped as an 11-year-old
by her teenage childminder, a court has heard.
The girl is from West Lothian and cannot be named for legal reasons. The high
court in Glasgow heard today that she was raped by her childminder, Jason
Middleton, in September 2005 when he was 16.
Middleton, now 19, from Grangemouth, at first denied having any sexual contact
with the girl but DNA tests confirmed he was the baby's father.
He pleaded guilty to rape and was bailed and immediately placed on the sex
offenders register. He faces sentencing next month.
The court heard that the baby is in the process of being adopted.
Middleton's defence lawyer, Richard Goddard, told the court: "My client was
deprived of a normal upbringing. He had no moral framework. He had almost
non-existent parental guidance."
Jennifer Bain, the prosecutor, told Judge Rita Rae QC that the rape took place
when Middleton was left alone with the girl. "She gave birth to a daughter in
2006. The child was conceived before her 12th birthday and she became a mother
at the age of 12," Bain said.
"When the accused was taken to a police station and questioned he denied having
any sexual contact with the girl."
The girl had considered suicide because of her ordeal, the court heard.
12-year-old girl gave
birth after being raped, G, 3.6.2009,
Baby P mother and stepfather jailed for toddler's death
• Killing could have been prevented, official report says
• Stepfather also jailed for raping two-year-old girl
Friday 22 May 2009
James Sturcke and agencies
Baby P's mother was jailed indefinitely today for causing or
allowing her son's death, as an official report said the killing "could and
should have been prevented".
The mother was told she would serve a minimum term of five years.
Her boyfriend, 32, was given a 12-year sentence at the Old Bailey for his role
in the killing of Baby P, now named as Peter. To run concurrently, he was also
given life with a minimum term of 10 years for raping a two-year-old girl.
Jason Owen, 37, from Bromley, Kent, a lodger at the same home as the pair, was
given an indeterminate sentence and told he would serve a minimum of three
Due to the time the mother has already served in custody, she could be eligible
for parole in August 2012. Her boyfriend cannot be released until August 2017.
Neither Peter's mother nor her boyfriend can be named for legal reasons. Peter
was 17 months old when he was found dead in a blood-spattered cot in August 2007
with a broken back and fractured ribs.
He had more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving
60 visits from social workers, doctors and police over eight months. "You are a
manipulative and self-centred person, with a calculating side as well as a
temper," the judge, Stephen Kramer, told Peter's mother.
The sentencing came as a second review, by the Haringey safeguarding children
board, said doctors, lawyers, police and social workers should have been able to
stop the situation "in its tracks at the first serious incident".
Even after Peter was put under a child protection plan, his case was regarded as
routine "with injuries expected as a matter of course". Agencies were "lacking
urgency", "lacking thoroughness" and "insufficiently challenging to the parent".
The review found that agencies "did not exercise a strong enough sense of
challenge" when dealing with Peter's mother and their outlook was "completely
inadequate" to meet the challenges of the case.
Peter's mother showed no emotion in the Old Bailey until her boyfriend was
sentenced to life. Her mouth fell open as she appeared to mouth "No". As she was
led away, a woman's voice called out "fucking tramp".
Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat MP in Haringey, welcomed the sentence
and the second report. "The guilty have at last been punished, but we still
cannot rest until we fully understand how this poor little boy suffered so
terribly, and for so long, under the noses of Haringey's children's services."
Featherstone praised the rigour of the second serious case review. "The first
serious case review either showed clear incompetence or was a cover-up," she
said. "This one could not be more different from the first. It says exactly what
we should have learnt at the start of this awful tragedy: Haringey council,
health professionals and the police all failed to protect Baby Peter from three
individuals who set out to harm him."
The judge told all three defendants that "significant force"
had been used on Peter "on a number of occasions".
"Whatever the truth of what took place and the role and motivation of each
individual, the result was that a child died in horrific circumstances with
injuries that can only have caused great pain and distress prior to his death."
Peter's mother wrote a letter to the judge from prison that was read aloud in
In it she apologised for the pain and suffering she had caused and begged her
family, including Peter's natural father, for forgiveness.
"I have lost all I hold dear to me. Now every day of my life is full of guilt
and trying to come to terms with my failure as a mother," she wrote.
"I punish myself on a daily basis and there is not a day that goes by where I
don't cry at some point."
Peter's natural father told the Old Bailey yesterday of his horror at the
knowledge that the little boy suffered months of pain, fear and loneliness
before his death.
He said his life had become a "living nightmare" since losing his son.
In a victim impact statement, the father, who cannot be named for legal reasons,
told of the moment he was confronted with his son's lifeless body in a north
London hospital. "He appeared to be asleep, and I just wanted to pick him up and
take him home. But there was nothing I could do for him.
"I kissed him on his forehead and said goodbye. My son was gone forever."
Peter's death sparked an outpouring of public anger and led to strong criticism
of the social workers, police officers and health professionals responsible for
Five employees of Haringey council in north London were sacked, including the
children's services director Sharon Shoesmith, and the General Medical Council
has suspended two doctors involved in the case.
Baby P mother and
stepfather jailed for toddler's death, NYT, 22.5.2009,
Dano Sonnex admits tying up French murder victim
May 19, 2009
From Times Online
A burglar accused of the sadistic murder of two French students dramatically
changed his evidence today and admitted that he had helped to tie up the men
before they were stabbed to death.
Dano Sonnex, 23, told the Old Bailey that he had climbed into the flat in New
Cross, South London, while Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez were still alive.
He described tying up Mr Ferez while a friend bound Mr Bonomo.
Mr Sonnex had previously insisted that he had not entered the flat before both
men were stabbed almost 250 times in what has been described as an “orgy of
At the opening of his defence Mr Sonnex claimed that he had been acting as a
lookout while a friend burgled the flat in the early hours of June 29 last year.
After hearing shouting he was called into the flat to “give a hand”.
Mr Sonnex told the court that it was against prison rules to name someone
accused of wrongdoing, although it was acceptable to describe what they had
done. However, it was clear that the friend he referred to was his co-accused,
Nigel Farmer, 34.
Mr Sonnex told the court: “I climbed in. To my right was Gabriel Ferez. He was
sitting on the futon in his pants and he was talking French very, very loudly.
“My friend had Laurent Bonomo. He was on the bed. He had his hand around his
neck and was pushing his head into the pillow, shouting aggressively ‘stay down,
“Gabriel Ferez was very, very edgy. Just sitting there.
“[My friend] said: ‘Grab that one’. I grabbed him around the neck and did
exactly what my friend was doing with Laurent Bonomo, so he was face down.
“He was struggling but he was not fighting back.
“I realised [my friend] had started to punch Laurent Bonomo in the face because
Laurent Bonomo was struggling. There was numerous amounts of punches.”
Mr Sonnex said that Mr Farmer then pulled items out of a cupboard and told him
to tie up Mr Ferez, 23. He described tying the Fenchman’s wrists with a pair or
tights and his ankles with another piece of material.
“My friend started to tie Laurent Bonomo,” Mr Sonnex told the court. “Laurent
Bonomo said something about his girlfriend. My friend said ‘keep on thinking
about your girlfriend, keep on thinking about your girlfriend’.”
Mr Sonnex claimed the friend then searched the flat and passed him some mobile
telephones, Sony PlayStation Portables and a bank card belonging to Mr Bonomo,
“I asked him for the PIN number of the card,” Mr Sonnex told the court. “He was
very compliant and he said ‘yes’ and gave me the number.
“My friend kept on saying ‘keep on thinking about your girlfriend and you will
be all right’. I left the flat and told my friend to keep on searching.”
When asked why he had informed his barrister only yesterday that he was changing
his account, Mr Sonnex replied: “I thought that the jury would not believe that
I did not kill those people.
“It is better to be truthful. I wanted to tell the truth and let the jury
decide. I did not kill those people.” Mr Sonnex had earlier claimed that both he
and Mr Farmer burglars and drug dealers.
On the night of the murders Mr Farmer had been robbed of his cash and drugs at a
nightclub and wanted to make back the money he had lost, Mr Sonnex told the
Mr Farmer had attempted to burgle a flat occupied by Laila Morse, who plays Mo
Harris in the BBC soap opera EastEnders but had been scared off, he added.
Mr Sonnex, from New Cross, has pleaded guilty to burglary at the apartment on
the day of the killings.
Mr Farmer denies the charge.
Mr Sonnex and Mr Farmer, of no fixed address, each deny murder, false
imprisonment, and arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.
The trial continues.
Dano Sonnex admits tying
up French murder victim, Ts, 19.5.2009,
Guang Hui Cao guilty of murdering young Chinese couple in
May 19, 2009
From Times Online
A Chinese man collapsed in court today as he was found guilty of brutally
murdering two graduates in their home in Newcastle.
Guang Hui Cao, 31, fainted after the foreman announced that the jury had agreed
unanimously that he had tied up, beaten and killed the young couple last summer.
The court heard that he tricked his way into the home of Xi Zhou and Zhen Xing
Yang, both 25, to try to steal the hundreds of thousands of pounds that they had
made selling forged qualifications and in an internet betting scam.
Cao, a restaurant worker in Morpeth, stood motionless in glasses and a white
T-shirt in Newcastle Crown Court until the prosecution said they were pressing
for a full life tariff. Proceedings were halted and an ambulance was called when
he suddenly fell to the ground, apparently unconscious, with his eyes rolled
back and his head lolling to one side.
When the hearing resumed Cao was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum
term of 33 years.
He had pretended he wanted to sub-let a room in the couple’s flat in Croydon
Road, but once inside he murdered their pet cat and subjected the pair to a
frenzied and sustained attack.
Known by their anglicised names of Kevin Yang and Cici Zhou, they were
discovered by friends two days after they died on August 7, last year.
Miss Zhou was found lying face down on a bed. Her killer had bound her wrists
with tape and then hit her over the head with a heavy weapon, possibly a hammer.
A piece of towelling was stuffed into her mouth, which had been taped shut. She
had suffocated around 90 minutes after the ordeal began.
Mr Yang was discovered in the other bedroom, having been hit with a hammer in
the face and head. His throat had been slashed after he had lost
The court heard that the couple were involved in a lucrative internet betting
operation which saw £233,000 pass through their bank accounts in three years.
Mr Yang was involved in sending information from live football matches to
Chinese gamblers who benefited from a TV time delay of several seconds, allowing
them to bet on events already knowing the outcome.
He also supplied fake education certificates and other documents to Chinese
students who wanted to enrol on education courses in the UK, or get jobs on
returning to China.
After the murder, Cao changed his clothes and fled from the property with laptop
computers and mobile phones which linked him to the couple.
The phones were found dumped in a nearby park by two boys, with the batteries
and SIM cards missing.
They were handed to police after the murders were featured on the Crimewatch
programme and police discovered phone contacts between the couple and Cao.
He was arrested at his home and police discovered a speck of Mr Yang’s blood on
Cao’s glasses, while more blood was found in two recesses of Cao’s watch.
In his defence, Cao claimed he had been blackmailed into unwittingly helping to
set up the couple’s deaths after threats were made to his family in China.
He said he was in the flat at Croydon Road when they were killed, but was tied
up and locked in the bathroom.
Cao had claimed that masked gunmen burst into the house and killed Mr Yang
because he made someone “unhappy” with his behaviour.
He said he was afraid to contact police because he was frightened that his
parents would be harmed if he came forward and because he had stayed in the UK
illegally after his student visa expired in 2003.
Miss Zhou came to Britain as a student in June 2005, while her boyfriend arrived
in 2003 and met her in Newcastle after he studied English and accounting in
The couple have been buried together in China. Their families watched the trial
with an interpreter through a video link.
Miss Zhou’s father, Sanbao Zhou, said he felt “as if the sky had fallen on us”
when he heard about his daughter’s death.
“We nurtured her for 25 years and now she is suddenly gone. Words alone cannot
possibly convey the harm that has been done to our family.
“There is an ancient Chinese saying: ’The most suffering one can go through in
one’s life consists of losing one’s mother when one is still young, losing one’s
wife in the prime of one’s life and losing one’s children in one’s old age.'
“This is especially true when one’s child has been murdered. For us, anger and
sadness is mingled together.”
Mr Yang’s mother, ShuZhen Qu, said: “This person did not just kill two people,
he has killed two families. If this had not happened, we expected our son to
return to China and the lives of our entire family would have been very
“We have now been sentenced to go to hell. Our family will never be able to have
any future generations."
Guang Hui Cao guilty of
murdering young Chinese couple in Newcastle, Ts, 19.5.2009,
'Freedom? It's lonely'
When Sean Hodgson's conviction was quashed after 27 years in prison,
he may have thought his nightmare had ended.
But, as Aida Edemariam reports,
it has only been the beginning of a long and painful struggle to come to terms
with what happened to him
Wednesday 29 April 2009
I first met him on a Saturday night, in Soho. My boyfriend and I were just
turning off Shaftesbury Avenue when we passed a pale, thin man sitting alone on
a step. Blood was running down the side of his face. We stopped, and turned
back. Was he OK? We didn't get much of an answer. He kept raising a hand to
touch the wound, but he didn't seem to have any comprehension of what it was, or
how it had got there. He threw up. We called an ambulance, and tried to chat
with him while we were waiting. His words were so slurred it was hard to make
out much of what he said. And then we asked who he was.
Along with a man called Stephen Downing, Sean Hodgson holds the dubious record
of being the longest-serving victim of a miscarriage of justice in Britain: 27
years, plus, in Hodgson's case, another year or two on remand - nigh on 30
years. The night we first met, he had been out of prison for three days.
And he had been drinking, yes - but when we meet again it becomes clear that
most of the physical impairments I first noticed were not the result of alcohol.
The pallor was prison pallor: a brief walk round a prison yard every few months
and prolonged periods of illness have left him completely drained of colour. A
robust 6ft and 13st at his trial, he is now fragile, sinking curved into a sofa
as if his bones can no longer take responsibility for his shape. And there's the
nervous energy: although his body is otherwise unnaturally still, one leg swings
independently, constantly, with the regularity of a metronome.
His speech is slurred because of the many drugs he has to take - drugs for
depression, drugs for schizophrenia, drugs for angina (he has had three heart
attacks, brought on, he says, by hunger strikes), drugs to deal with the
after-effects of treatment for prostate cancer, drugs for the pain caused by
keyhole surgery on his shoulder - but he is more compos mentis than he at first
seems. His answers are direct, monosyllabic, often leavened by a sly humour.
We talk in an airy Notting Hill hotel, when he has been out of prison for four
weeks. In that time he has received one benefit cheque, for about £180, and a
one-off discharge payment of £46, or just over £1.70 for each year of his
sentence. Unsurprisingly, this has run out.
"What are you living on?"
"How are you eating?"
"I'm not eating. "
"Surely you must have something."
"I have coffee."
"What are you going to have for lunch today?"
Hodgson was the second child in an Irish family from Wexford who moved to a
village near Durham when he was about four. When he was seven, he told a
journalist just after his release, he was abducted and raped by a man who hanged
himself in jail before his trial. Hodgson's father refused to take him back, so
he says he was partly raised by his grandparents. His parents died while he was
in prison, but his grandmother, now 107, is still alive. "She curses the
English. Because of what they've done to me." He moved to London, did casual
work, often on building sites, and funded an increasingly serious drug habit
through petty crime. He is still impressed that he could drive 60ft cranes under
He was arrested about a year after the 1979 rape and murder of Teresa De Simone
because he seemed to have inside knowledge of the case, and because he
confessed. The confession was upheld because his blood type matched that found
at the scene - even though it was a common blood type, and even though it soon
emerged that he had confessed to hundreds of other crimes, some of which had
never been committed. In court he pleaded not guilty, and refused to enter the
witness box. "Because I am a pathological liar." When he was sentenced to life,
he says now, he was "sad. Sad and glad. Because I know that if I hadn't gone to
prison then, I'd have been dead now, from the drugs."
He says he refused to let his girlfriend of five years visit him. "I didn't
think I'd ever get out of prison, so I told her to go and live her own life."
What did she say to that? "She never said nothing. Had a little cry, I suppose."
Later he says that she has never married, and that she has been in touch since
his release. Will he go to see her? His voice drops so low that the words are
hardly coming out at all. He has begun to wring his hands. "I don't want to.
Brings back memories."
"The first year was hell." He almost growls the word. There were hunger strikes,
spells on suicide watch. He spent months on hospital wings, and eight years in
the 80s, he says, in Broadmoor, because "I heard voices." The last, long stretch
he served at HMP Albany, where, he says, his cell measured 8ft by 4ft. He never
did any education, took on no work, did no group therapy or remedial training,
because "by going on them courses you're admitting guilt. If you do anything it
says you're guilty." Unwilling to brave the melee of the canteen, he ate his
meals in his cell, which contained a bed, a desk, and, latterly, a budgie called
Paul; he says he spent his days listening to Radio 4, especially the plays;
reading the Guardian, which he would cadge off the Quaker minister every
morning; and novels, especially Jeffrey Archer. Wake-up was at 7am, and lock-up
at 7pm. "They only let you out of your cell three times a night. Press the
computer and it lets you out for five minutes to get hot water, go to the loo,
whatever you want to do." He spent 22 hours of every day alone. "You've got to
keep strong. You've got to persevere." And what kept you going? "My appeal."
One day he responded to an ad for Julian Young's law firm in Inside Time, a
newspaper for those incarcerated at Her Majesty's pleasure; unusually, Young's
office wrote back. He is still impressed that they actually came into the
lifers' centre for a sandwich and a cup of tea. DNA testing had not been
available when he was convicted but when, in 1998, defence lawyers asked whether
the Forensic Science Service still had exhibits from the trial, they were told
they had been destroyed. Rag Chand, a barrister who worked with Young on the
case, had a gut instinct that this was wrong and spent four months tracking them
down. Swabs taken from the victim's body and tapings from her clothes and car
were eventually found in a forgotten archive on an industrial estate in the
Midlands. They were tested and came back negative. Hodgson was not told until
the samples were retested and the results absolutely sure. Then his appeal was
rushed through, and on Wednesday 18 March 2009, he walked hesitantly out on to
the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice, accompanied by his brother.
Lifers who admit guilt go through a few years of preparation for their release:
they are given parole, are able to work outside the prison, to put housing and
income in place; they can retreat to the prison whenever the outside world gets
too overwhelming. Those who have never admitted their guilt very rarely get
parole, and thus receive none of this. So Hodgson was taken immediately to the
housing and benefits offices - where it transpired that someone had stolen his
identity and he no longer had a national insurance number, meaning that
officially he did not exist. His MP had to intervene to sort that out.
With his brother he had his first pint and cigarette as a free man. Although
they had spoken twice a week throughout his incarceration they hadn't actually
seen each other for over 10 years, because, he says, his brother couldn't afford
to travel to the prison. After their drink, his brother went back to his hotel,
and the next morning, home, to work a night shift. And then he was on his own.
According to Gordon Turnbull, the psychiatrist who debriefed Terry Waite when he
returned after nearly five years as a hostage in Lebanon and has since made a
speciality of the subject, the very least Hodgson can expect to be dealing with
is severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The condition develops, as he
describes it, when physical and emotional trauma imprinted on the right hand
side of the brain cannot be transferred to the left hand side of the brain,
where experience is processed, because "the left hemisphere will actually reject
material that doesn't make sense". (In left handed individuals it's the other
way round.) Hence, in a prison situation, "someone who's guilty can just send
the information across and say, 'Yeah, I did it, fair cop.' And then the brain
can settle down." But in someone who isn't guilty, "you get a lot of
flashbacks": unresolved, unprocessed experience that will repeatedly offer
itself up, not as in normal dreams, but with all the intensity of the original
There is a measurable scale of suffering. In the case of people who have
experienced a natural disaster, where no one person can be blamed, 5% will still
have active PTSD after a year. With rape, the figure is 75%, and with torture,
it is virtually 100%. This is the level Turnbull would expect Hodgson to be at
even if he didn't have the complicating factors of schizophrenia and years of
drug use (though about the former he notes wryly that even perfectly normal
people can begin to hear voices if they have suffered enough sensory
deprivation). The army routinely requires that full-time soldiers returning from
combat go through a specialised reintegration process, because otherwise 40-50%
of them will have active PTSD in a year's time; innocent people sentenced to
life receive nothing of the sort. There is the further issue that surviving in
hostage conditions - or being innocent in prison, where the person is
effectively the hostage of the state - requires specific conditioning and
adaptation. When they emerge "they need to be actively rewound in order to
survive. Not everybody does."
"Feeling safe is the most important thing of all," says Turnbull. "When people
feel safe they change physiologically and they begin to be able to recover
properly. Stress damages the brain. It damages the USB [computer] cable, as it
were, between the hemispheres. But it's a temporary damage. When people don't
recover it's because they continue to be stressed." All it would take, he says,
is a couple of weeks to begin with - in a completely safe place, staffed by
people who understand the specific nature of what he has been through. Despite
the best efforts of the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, or Mojo, which has
been campaigning for years for the funds to build a specialist retreat in which
to prepare the just-released for re-entry into society, there is currently no
such place. I ask Turnbull if Hodgson's experience so far will delay his
healing. "It's going to make it virtually impossible for him to recover."
Instead, he is under the care of the Royal Courts of Justice Citizens Advice
Bureau miscarriage of justice service. The service assesses prisoners while they
are still incarcerated, organises room and board and access to benefits when
they get out, registers them with a GP, refers them to counsellors, and to
solicitors who can help them fight for compensation. In practice, as Young, and
the various charities who campaign on the issue point out, they do their best,
but it isn't nearly enough, especially when it comes to mental health support.
The service has a psychiatrist on its advisory group, who makes an initial
assessment and a referral within the NHS. But there are well-documented delays
in mental health provision throughout the NHS to start with, and, as the chief
executive of the service, James Banks, recently admitted that "with the level of
support they need, they will often have to access that privately, and because of
the delays in the compensation process they don't have the resources for that".
In the meantime, Hodgson is being housed in hotels for the long-term homeless.
This one, on a gracious street drifting with pink blossom, looks clean, bright
and comfortable, and Hodgson is very pleased to be in a room two-and-a-half
times the size of his previous cell (he says he was taken to see a studio flat
in Fulham which he refused because it was smaller than his cell). But this is
already his second berth: at the last hotel, an alcoholic tenant was being paid
by a TV production company to try to broker a deal to do an interview with
Hodgson. The man was told in no uncertain terms, by Young and by the hotel
owner, to desist, and Hodgson was moved. In this hotel, many of the guests don't
speak English. Others are not well. As we are talking, in reception, a young man
wanders in, talking incomprehensible English. "He's stoned," says Hodgson. "The
doctor gives him pills, but he takes them all at once." The man wanders out
again, singing Happy Birthday.
So Hodgson spends a lot of time in his room watching Sky, for which he paid £9.
"It's a novelty!" Didn't he watch TV in prison? "I couldn't afford to get a TV.
I only got £3.50 a week. They take a pound off for your television and you've
only got £2.50. What can you do with £2.50?" He finds it particularly useful
when he needs to self-medicate - when thoughts of prison crowd in, and he needs
to distract himself. During the day he takes long walks through Hyde Park,
savouring the open space, even though the long years in bleak surroundings and
foreshortened vistas have damaged his eyes' ability to focus and his perception
He was most overwhelmed by the traffic; how much there was, how fast. How did it
make you feel? A pause. "Scared." Was it difficult to cross the street?
"Sometimes." He sounds exhausted. "It's all right now. I soon learned to press
And life is expensive. "£2.60 for a little cup of coffee. Starbucks. Its
everywhere, isn't it? Everywhere! I've never seen it before." He is disconcerted
by the rearrangement the West End has undergone in his absence - the pubs he
navigated by, Ward's in Piccadilly - "it's all gone. It's strange. The chemist
has moved over the road, and a theatre's moved into the chemist's. It's crazy."
Nevertheless, on the Saturday after his release, he went out on the town. And
what did you do? "Got knocked down by a taxi!" He laughs, as if it is a weird
sort of achievement.
Some friends, from before his time in prison, had taken him into town to
celebrate a 21st birthday, Ireland's victory over Wales in the Six Nations and,
presumably, Hodgson's release, and they bounced from pub to pub, buying him
double shots of Jack Daniels. At some point they became separated, and he was
walking unsteadily down Shaftesbury Avenue when a taxi, apparently pulling over
to avoid a police car, knocked him over with its wing mirror. And that was when
we first crossed paths.
Was it a good night? "Apart from falling down." A smile struggles through his
face. "It took me three days to recover." He says it with a touching bravado, as
he did on the night, when we asked him what he'd been doing. "I drank 10 pints!"
I had asked the paramedics to make sure he got home safely, and it seems that
after they stitched his face up they put him in a cab. It was reported the next
day that all he had received so far was £46. It cost him £30 to get to his
The story somehow appeared in the tabloids a couple of days later. Hodgson says
a Mirror journalist had been following him since his release. "He just followed
me, taking photographs. Making up a story. He went there and he did this.
Chatting to this person, chatting to that person." How did that make you feel?
"Rotten. He stopped for a while. On Saturday he was camped out there again. I
never went out."
Generally he has been pleased with how people have reacted to him, though to be
honest it doesn't seem that the bar was set particularly high. "They aren't
scared of me or anything like that." Why scared? "They would have been if I'd
still been convicted. Or if I'd come out a different way. If it had been quashed
on a technicality." In fact, says Turnbull, this is an extra burden the
wrongfully convicted often face. "Unlike hostages, they don't have the advantage
of being welcomed back as heroes." The relative absoluteness of DNA evidence is
a great help for Hodgson, but often "there is the attitude of, 'No smoke without
a fire.' For instance, with the IRA bombing campaign [the Birmingham Six, the
Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven] there was the feeling of, 'Well if they
weren't involved in that, they were involved in something else. Public sympathy
isn't as great. It makes it all the more difficult to reenter the society that
has slammed them up."
And it simply exacerbates the fact that Hodgson, and the others like him, are
caught in a corrosive double-bind. The system has failed them absolutely. They
cannot trust anyone related to it - and yet, on release, they need the system's
help: its psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers and police. It is a
destabilising position from which to encounter the peculiar loneliness of
It isn't surprising, then, that Hodgson already misses aspects of prison. "I
miss the crowds. Always been used to having crowds around me for the last 27
years - well, 31 years. And you got to go to bed at a certain time, and you've
go to do this, and you've got to do that ... I don't miss it, but I don't know
where it's all gone. It's so liberal outside. Nobody tells me to go to bed here.
I can go wandering the streets all night if I want." And do you? "No. I go to
the shop maybe. There's an all-night shop round the corner." Are you finding
freedom kind of lonely? The leg, still for a while, begins rocking, rocking. "I
am, yeah." Did you expect that? "I expected it to be different. And it is
different." He chats to the people on the hotel desk. When he can think of
nowhere else friendly to go, he turns up at Young's office.
In what I take to be something of an understatement, he says his mood is "up and
down". When it's up, "I just go to the pub, and laugh and joke in the pub." Does
he feel anger? "I'm angry at the system. How can they keep a man in prison for
27 years knowing that he's innocent?" How does he deal with the anger? "Just go
to my room. Watch TV or distract myself with the radio." His voice is weary, a
monotone. A couple of times he has felt so depressed he has called a crisis
line. But it was busy, he says. "So I just went to bed."
John McManus, who as co-founder, with Paddy Hill, of Mojo, has dealt with case
after case like Hodgson's, and has warned him to expect tears at the most
inappropriate times. "Their emotional self is frozen. They suppress all emotion,
because in prison to show any emotion would be to show weakness. So when they
come out they might find themselves in a relaxed position, and all of a sudden
for no reason they'll be in tears and they don't understand it. I've watched
them all and they all follow a pattern. I haven't known any who haven't either
been suicidal or wanted to go into jail after a year. I guarantee he'll be
saying the same in a year's time."
It's partly the depression. "They've only had one vision through all those
years. That goes out the window. Suddenly they have no personal goals. They
don't know what to do with themselves. Once you've reached your Everest, there's
only one way to go and that's down." Then there's the point, "usually about nine
months after they come out, when they suddenly realise how much they've lost.
There's a big hole in them and it goes right through their stomach. Suddenly
they have this feeling of loss that is so great that their anger wants to burst
out. But instead of explode they implode. They use alcohol to blank out memories
and horrors. They die of heart attacks. They isolate themselves away from
society. They don't want to be reminded of what they've lost."
Then there's the issue of compensation. Trustworthy allies, already difficult to
find, are even more so when there's a lot of money involved. Even family can be
swayed by knowing someone who may come into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Hodgson is already building his emotional defences against the onslaught - and
testing out the unfamiliar feeling of choice. "I'll be driving a car next week.
I'll go out and buy one. Possibly this time next week I'll have a Range Rover."
But first he has to get the money. It isn't automatic - it has to be applied
for. The government capped the amount at £1m for cases where the person had
served over 10 years (it's £500,000 below that), but Hodgson may be able to get
more because of the mistake over the forensic samples, which added 11 years to
his sentence. These applications take time: some clients of the Royal Courts of
Justice miscarriage of justice service have already been waiting for more than
six years. Young estimates that Hodgson's case will take at least a year - not
counting the separate suit against the Forensic Science Service, which appears
to be denying ever speaking to the police about the case. So for a year, he will
have just benefits.
Then, when compensation is finally paid out, the government, unbelievably, docks
room and board, or "saved living expenses" calculated on the basis of what a
frugal person might have spent on their own upkeep if they were free. "As if you
voluntarily popped into the local prison," says Young, contemptuously. "Yes, it
would have cost them something to live - but you've taken their liberty. If you
can afford £50bn to bail out a bank you can afford to compensate someone for 27
years in prison." McManus estimates that Hodgson will pay a minimum of £100,000
for the privilege. The appeal was paid for by legal aid, but it does not cover
the process of applying for compensation. And so he will have to pay legal fees
"It's like [the state is] projecting some of the responsibility back on to the
individual," says Turnbull. "As if he should have made a better job of proving
his own innocence and not allowed the system to make the mistake it did. It's
like accusing a rape victim of being provocative, spreading the responsibility
beyond those who should be taking it. He should have been set free immediately,
compensated magnificently and put through a system to restore him to as near his
normal self as possible, and yet none of things are happening."
In their absence, Hodgson has come with his own modest recipe for healing. All
he really wants to do is leave London. He wants to go up to Yorkshire - with or
without a Range Rover - and find "a bungalow with a bit of land. And keep rare
breeds of sheep." And there, alone, try to forget.
'Freedom? It's lonely',
Plumber's mate Jake Fahri found guilty of murdering Jimmy
March 27, 2009
From Times Online
The man who fatally injured the schoolboy Jimmy Mizen by hurling a glass bowl
at him during a fight was today found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in
Jake Fahri, 19, was ordered to serve a minimum of 14 years for killing the
16-year-old former altar boy by hurling an oven dish with full force into the
boy’s face, at a southeast London bakery in May last year. When the glass
shattered on impact, a shard severed the boy’s jugular and an artery to the
brain before embedding itself in his spine.
Jimmy, who was 6ft 2in tall and described as a "gentle giant", bled to death in
his brother’s arms.
His large family applauded as the verdict was delivered but they soon fell
silent, weeping and comforting each other. His father, Barry Mizen, later
appealed for people to come together and help to stop Britain from "becoming a
country of anger".
In deciding on a guilty verdict, the jury rejected the claim by Fahri, a
plumber’s assistant who had a history of violence and who had been expelled from
school for bullying, that he was acting in self defence.
Only now can it be revealed that Fahri had four previous convictions; two for
robbery - one of which involved a knife - a burglary and a ruthless assault on a
teenage girl. On each occasion he avoided a young offenders’ unit, instead
receiving supervision orders and referrals.
Fahri showed no emotion as he was sentenced, but as he was taken to the cells he
called out: "I will be all right, mum, I’ll be all right" to his weeping mother
in the public gallery.
Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said: "A trivial incident over absolutely nothing in a
high street bakery ended three minutes later with the death of a blameless young
He said that although Fahri had two clear opportunities to walk away from a row
in the shop, he went back to cause serious harm to Jimmy, who he felt had
He told Fahri: "You carried out your intention so successfully that you killed
him, depriving a loving family of a son and brother."
But the judge added: "The court accepts you did not intend to kill your victim
and that you are a very young man."
The judge praised the Mizen family for the dignity they showed in court and for
the "clear and moderate" way in which they had worded their impact statements to
Outside court, Barry Mizen's voice cracked with emotion as he said it had been a
privilege to be Jimmy's father. "I want to thank God for Jimmy, thank God for
his life. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have been his parents," he said,
with his wife and youngest son, George, standing by his side. "This country
stands apart from other countries. This is a country of civility and a country
of fair play, fairness, and a country of safety. We are rapidly losing that.
"We have become a country of anger, of selfishness and of fear. It doesn’t have
to be like this. Let’s together try and stop it."
On May 10 last year, the day after his 16th birthday, Jimmy and his brother,
Harry, 19, went to a nearby shop in Lee, southeast London, to buy his first
lottery ticket. They moved on to the Three Cooks bakery, where they encountered
The man barged past Jimmy before swearing at him and trying to goad him into a
fight for not moving immediately out of his way. Jimmy, a rugby player, stood
his ground and Fahri, feeling he had "lost face", struck out, hitting him on the
head with a soft-drinks bottle.
As the fight escalated, Fahri was pushed across the shop floor and punched into
a corner by the brothers, who then forced him outside and locked the bakery
doors. But Fahri, described by one witness as being "furious" and "berserk",
smashed the shop window and, wielding a heavy metal sign, attacked them again.
Jimmy grabbed hold of the sign and began to prise it from his attacker’s hands -
at which point Fahri grabbed a large Pyrex-style oven dish and threw into the
After the attack, Fahri emerged from the bakery smirking and swaggering, despite
having seen the serious injury he had caused, witnesses said.
Tommy Mizen, 27, arrived at the scene and chased his brother’s killer, who ran
to a friend’s home. When Tommy returned to the bakery, he found a scene which
one witness said was similar to a bloody horror film. Samantha Pampling, a
17-year-old assistant at the shop, was screaming hysterically while Jimmy had
tried to seek refuge in the shop’s storeroom. When Tommy managed to get inside,
Jimmy collapsed in his brother's arms. Tommy eased him down to the ground and
yelled for someone to call an ambulance.
Those who went to Jimmy’s aid tried to stem the bleeding with tissues and hand
towels, but to no avail, and Jimmy bled to death. When his mother arrived at the
scene, she fainted. When she came to she summoned a priest.
The prosecution claim Fahri’s anger was also fuelled by the fact that he
recognised Jimmy’s brother, Harry, as the schoolboy who had twice got him in
trouble with his school; once after Fahri had mugged him for 20p and on another
occasion for beating him up in the street. Jimmy had six brothers and two
Part of Fahri’s defence was that the boys ganged up on him, but the jury
rejected his claims as witness after witness gave evidence showing that Fahri
was clearly the aggressor.
Plumber's mate Jake
Fahri found guilty of murdering Jimmy Mizen, 16, Ts, 27.3.2009,
Baby OT dies after doctors stop treament
March 21, 2009
From Times Online
A seriously ill baby died today after his parents lost a legal bid to
overturn a ruling giving hospital staff the power to stop medical treatment
keeping him alive, the parents' solicitor said.
The nine-month-old boy, known only as OT, died shortly after 10am following the
withdrawal of life sustaining treatment by the Trust, said solicitor Christopher
Cuddihee of Kaim Todner.
The parents said: "During his short time with us OT became the focus of our
"We were present during his last moments, together with O's extended family.
"He died peacefully. We will miss him greatly and wish to say that we are proud
to have known our beautiful son for his brief life."
Two Court of Appeal judges yesterday refused the parents permission to challenge
a ruling by Mrs Justice Parker which gave the hospital treating the boy the
right to stop medical treatment keeping him alive.
The parents said after the decision they understood their baby's treatment would
be withdrawn today and said: "We plan to enjoy what little time we have left
with our son."
OT had a rare metabolic disorder and had suffered brain damage and major
His parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said only one other child
with their son's condition had been identified by modern medicine and they
added: "We are all in unknown territory."
In a statement issued through Mr Cuddihee after the decision, Mr and Mrs T said
they were "deeply distressed" by the court's ruling to allow doctors to take
their "only and beloved son" off the ventilator which was keeping him alive.
They said relationships with doctors and staff at the hospital became "very
difficult" at the end of last year when medical staff wanted to withdraw
treatment while they felt they "had to fight to ensure that he is given every
Mr and Mrs T said there were "lots of issues which still worry us" but added:
"We think we did the right thing even though we were repeatedly told it was
hopeless and that we were being irresponsible in not following the medical
advice that he should be allowed to die."
The parents, who could not face hearing the decision yesterday and waited
outside the court, went on: "We are and always will be convinced that despite
his desperate problems his life is worthwhile and is worth preserving as long as
it is possible to do so without causing him undue pain.
"That was the real argument between us and the doctors - they think his life is
intolerable and that his disability is such that his life has little purpose;
but we, along with some of the nurses, believed that he experiences pleasure and
that he has long periods where he was relaxed and pain free.
"Our belief in his humanity and inherent worth justified us taking every step to
But Mr and Mrs T said that despite "all the problems and creeping mistrust" with
the medical team, and the fact that they disagreed "profoundly" with the
doctors, they wanted to put on the record that for a substantial period the
hospital staff "have strived to support him and keep him alive".
"We have been and remain enormously grateful to the National Health Service for
the huge effort and massive cost that has been involved in OT's battle for
life," they said.
Referring to the parents during the hearing at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice
Ward said the judges were "not unmindful of the horror of their predicament".
He said he would like to have addressed the parents personally but asked their
lawyers to pass on the message that although the hearing seeking permission to
appeal had been conducted "in a brusque, uncaring, unfeeling way on a crude
issue of law", he wanted to tell them it was impossible not to feel the "deepest
sympathy for their predicament".
"One has great respect and admiration for them," he said.
The NHS trust involved, which, like the child and his parents, cannot be
identified on the orders of the courts, had argued OT had no prospect of
recovery and that he suffered intolerable pain as a result of his treatment and
OT's parents fought the trust's application for a declaration that withdrawal of
treatment was in the child's best interests.
They wanted doctors to keep him alive as long as possible, so long as that did
not cause him unacceptable suffering.
Lord Justice Ward and Lord Justice Wilson said they would give their reasons for
rejecting permission to appeal at a later date. There was no further avenue of
appeal for the parents.
Baby OT dies after
doctors stop treament, Ts, 21.3.2009,
Prisoner has murder conviction quashed after 27 years
Appeal court corrects miscarriage of justice
as new DNA evidence quashes Sean Hodgson's conviction
for rape and strangling of barmaid Teresa de Simone in 1979
Wednesday 18 March 2009
Sandra Laville, Sam Jones and Matthew Weaver
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 15.21 GMT on Wednesday 18
It was last updated at 15.32 GMT on Wednesday 18 March 2009.
A man who spent almost three decades in prison for crimes he did not commit
had his conviction for rape and murder quashed by the court of appeal today
thanks to a DNA analysis that could have established his innocence a decade ago.
Sean Hodgson, now 57, was sentenced to life in 1982 for the murder of Teresa de
Simone, a 22-year-old gas board clerk and part-time barmaid.
De Simone's partly clothed body was found in the back of her Ford Escort by the
Tom Tackle pub in Southampton, where she worked, in December 1979. She had been
throttled to death with her gold crucifix necklace.
Hodgson made various confessions to police before pleading not guilty at his
original trial at Winchester crown court. His defence team argued that Hodgson,
who has mental health problems, was a pathological liar and his confessions were
He was convicted on the basis of his confessions and matches of blood type with
samples found at the scene. No assessment of his mental state, or his apparent
obsession with confessing to crimes he had not committed, was made.
Last week, Hampshire police reopened the murder inquiry after new analysis of
DNA evidence from the scene did not match a sample from Hodgson. Such tests were
not available at the time of his conviction – DNA evidence was not used in a
British court until 1986.
Following the force's comprehensive forensic case review, evidence was passed to
the Criminal Cases Review commission, which referred it to the appeal court and
said there was a "real possibility the court would consider the conviction
unsafe and quash it".
However, it emerged in court today that Hodgson could have been freed in 1998
when his legal team asked the Forensic Science Service to review the exhibits in
the case. But they were wrongly told that the exhibits had been destroyed, and
an investigation has been launched by the forensic science regulator.
Frail and pallid, Hodgson stood on the steps of the high court supported by his
When his solicitor asked whether he would rather go back inside the court, he
pointed to the press pack, saying: "I want to go down there."
To cheers and applause, he made his way slowly down the steps. When asked how he
felt, he replied, in a barely audible voice: "Ecstatic. It's good to be out."
Asked what he made of the revelation that he could perhaps have been freed a
decade ago, he said: "Disgraceful."
Around him, members of his family and legal team were in tears. "I've had a
dream for 27 years — I know it's a hell of a long time," his brother said as he
thanked the lawyers. "Now it's finally coming true."
A statement issued by Hodgson's solicitor, Julian Young, said his client was
relieved that his innocence, which he had maintained for so many years, had been
"Sadly, the mother of the victim now has to face the possibility and distress of
the circumstances of the case being reopened," he said. "At a time when the
criminal justice system is under scrutiny, it is gratifying to see all parties
co-operating to rectify a serious miscarriage of justice."
Young also spoke of the mistake that had cost Hodgson a decade in prison. "Ten
years ago, someone in the Forensic Science Service, perhaps by accident, made an
error of some sort ... as a result, he stayed in custody 10 years longer," he
Indicating that further action for compensation was under consideration, he
said: "Whether Forensic Science have liability in respect of an error 10 years
ago is a matter for another day, when we have a chance to talk to Sean at some
Hodgson – who, the court heard, has suffered mental and physical health problems
for many years – was now being helped by a miscarriage of justice team and would
be visiting healthcare professionals. It would then be for him "to make his own
decision on where he wants to live", Young said.
He added that Hodgson was "looking forward one day to going to watch a football
match", adding that he believed he was a Sunderland supporter.
Earlier, Hodgson sat in court to hear the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, and
his colleagues, Mr Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Wyn Williams, rule that his
conviction was unsafe and would be quashed.
In his ruling, Judge said it was in the broad public interest for the court to
set out the facts so people could understand how the conviction came about, why
it had been quashed and how it was that these "disturbing events" took place.
He emphasised that, unlike many other miscarriages of justice, the conviction
was not being quashed because some unacceptable feature of police misconduct had
emerged, a witness had been untruthful or mistakes had been made during the
"The conviction will be quashed for the simple reason that advances in the
science of DNA, long after the end of the trial, have proved a fact which, if it
had been known at the time would, notwithstanding the remaining evidence in the
case, have resulted in quite a different investigation and a completely
different trial," he said.
He said swabs taken from De Simone's body had been examined and sufficient
remnants of sperm had been found on them for proper DNA analysis to be carried
out, resulting in the conclusion that the sample on the swabs did not come from
"Whoever raped her ... on these findings, it can't be the appellant," Judge
said. "The crown's case was that whoever raped her also killed her, so the new
DNA evidence has demolished the case for the prosecution."
He said the decision "leaves some important unanswered questions".
"Perhaps the most important is that we do not know who raped and killed the dead
girl," he said. "We can but hope that, for the sake of the appellant and the
family of the murdered girl, that her killer may yet be identified and brought
At the end of the judgment, Judge announced that Hodgson would be discharged. A
CPS spokesman later confirmed there would be no retrial.
Hampshire police said they had begun a new investigation into De Simone's
murder, but said the inquiry could prove "protracted".
Speaking outside the high court, Detective Chief Inspector Philip McTavish said:
"This is aimed at identifying the owner of the new DNA profile. The fact that we
have this DNA also means that we are able to eliminate people from our inquiry.
The original investigation and evidence is now being revisited with the benefit
of the DNA evidence, and we will utilise the advances in forensic science."
Hodgson, who is also known as Robert Graham Hodgson, has spent much of his time
in the psychiatric wing of Albany prison on the Isle of Wight. Fewer than 10
other people – including Harry Roberts, who killed three policemen in west
London in 1966, and the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe – have served longer
The review commission has asked the Crown Prosecution Service to review all
similar murder cases where DNA evidence is available and defendants are still
Hodgson, the second-longest serving prisoner to be the victim of a miscarriage
of justice in modern criminal history, is entitled to compensation that could
amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Only Stephen Downing, jailed for
beating to death Wendy Sewell in Bakewell, served a few months in jail longer
before being set free. His conviction was overturned in 2002 and he is thought
to have been awarded £500,000.
Prisoner has murder
conviction quashed after 27 years, G, 18.3.2009,
27 years on, man wrongly convicted of killing barmaid is a
week from freedom
• Murder appeal DNA shows innocence of mentally ill prisoner
• Serial confesser's case may bring more reviews
Thursday 12 March 2009
Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 00.01 GMT on Thursday 12
It appeared in the Guardian on Thursday 12 March 2009 on p11 of the UK news
It was last updated at 02.18 GMT on Thursday 12 March 2009
For 27 years the mother of a young barmaid had believed her daughter's rapist
and killer was behind bars. In the last few days it has become clear to Mary
Sedotti that the man who strangled her daughter in the early hours of a December
morning 30 years ago has never been caught.
In a week's time Sean Hodgson, 58, the mentally ill misfit who was convicted of
killing 22-year-old Teresa de Simone, is likely to walk free from the court of
appeal in London after DNA tests that were not available at the time of his
conviction conclusively proved he was not the killer.
Currently being held in the hospital wing of HMP Albany, his 27 years behind
bars make him one of the longest serving inmates in the British penal system.
Only the likes of police killer Harry Roberts have served longer.
Hodgson, also known as Robert, was convicted in 1982 of killing the young
barmaid, whose body was found semi-naked in her car outside a pub in
Southampton. She had been throttled with her gold crucifix necklace.
Hodgson had confessed to a priest that he was the killer, and admitted the
offence on several other occasions to detectives, but no assessment was made of
his mental state or his apparent obsession with confessing to crimes he had not
At his trial Hodgson retracted his admissions, pleaded not guilty and told the
jury he was a pathological liar. The jury did not believe him, and he was
convicted on a unanimous verdict. It is only in the last 11 months that a new
legal team has picked up his case and realised they were staring at a
miscarriage of justice.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission is now asking the Crown Prosecution Service
to consider reviewing scores of other similar murders where DNA is now available
and the defendant is still alive.
Simone's mother Mary Sedotti, who still lives in Southampton, has been kept
informed of all the developments in the case. She told the Guardian: "Of course
I would like to see this reinvestigated. It is very difficult for me."
The case against Hodgson began to unravel last March, when a new legal team led
by solicitor Julian Young took it on.
"We looked at it and thought we were on to something," Young said. "We went to
see him in prison and he continually denied he had killed her. He has repeatedly
denied he was the killer throughout his time in prison."
Young's team wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service and Hampshire police last
July to ask for the evidence in the case to be reviewed.
The police agreed to resubmit all the evidence to the Forensic Science Service
and in two batches of results - in late December and January of this year - it
was established that the DNA found on De Simone's body was not Hodgson's. No
match was made with any other suspect. The papers were sent to the CCRC and in
two days the case was referred to the court of appeal where it will be heard on
"It is not in our interests to see someone whose conviction is unsafe in
prison," a prosecution source said. "We supported Mr Hodgson's defence team and
moved very quickly on this."
De Simone, a part-time barmaid, had been working in the Tom Tackle pub on the
night of 4 December 1979 before going on to a nearby disco with her friend Jenni
After dancing for a few hours Savage drove her friend back to her car in the pub
car park at about 12.30am. They sat chatting for a while before Savage waved
goodbye to De Simone as she walked away to her car. She was never seen alive
When De Simone's mother woke the next morning she realised her daughter was not
in her room and thought something must be wrong.
Her husband, the young woman's stepfather, drove round to the pub and spotted
the car but did not take a closer look. It was only later when the landlord
arrived to open up that De Simone's partly naked body was discovered.
Two days after the murder detectives interviewed Hodgson, who was hovering
around the case claiming that he had information about the killing. A year later
Hodgson, who was by then in prison for stealing a car, called guards to his cell
and said he needed to see a priest.
"I have got to see someone because the scene keeps coming back to me in my
cell," he told the prison guards.
Father Frank Moran was called to HMP Wandsworth to speak to Hodgson, who claimed
he had strangled and raped De Simone and wanted people to know what he had done.
Detectives interviewed Hodgson and he confessed again. At the time it was not
usual practice for mental assessments to be made of a prisoner. Hodgson had also
made a series of other confessions to hundreds of burglaries and rapes.
By the time he came to trial in 1982 Hodgson denied murder. He told the jury he
had made it all up.
"I would like to tell the members of the jury why I cannot go into the witness
box," he said.
"Firstly, it is because I am a pathological liar. Secondly, I did not kill
Teresa de Simone. Thirdly, every time I have been nicked by the law and that has
been many times, I have made false confessions to crimes I did not commit."
The only other evidence against him was blood analysis which showed the killer
had blood group A or AB - Hodgson and a third of the male population were in
Appeal court judges will hear the case next Wednesday.
In DNA terms we are all very similar, the 3m or so DNA letters that make up
your genome typically differs by just 0.1% from the person next to you - unless
you are related to them. It is these differences which DNA fingerprinting (or
profiling) uses to identify individuals. This can be done from samples such as
blood, saliva or hair left at a crime scene. The technique works by testing
several markers in the genome.
Typically, these markers are the number of DNA letters between cuts made at
specific points in the DNA by enzymes that act as molecular scissors. An early
success saw the technique used to convict Colin Pitchfork in 1988 of the rape
and murder of two girls in 1983 in Narborough, Leicestershire.
Forensic scientists can now achieve a DNA match using much smaller samples. The
revised technique - called low copy number DNA (LCN) evidence - involves
amplifying the DNA in the original sample before creating a profile. It has been
used by the UK's Forensic Science Service since 1999 in more than 20,000 cases.
It featured in the conviction of Australian Bradley Murdoch for the murder of
British backpacker Peter Falconio.
27 years on, man wrongly convicted of killing barmaid is a week
from freedom, G, 12.3.2009,
Eddie Gilfoyle: I didn't do it, end of story
I'd sooner die in jail than admit that I did kill her,
says the man who has served 17 years for his wife's murder
February 21, 2009
From The Times
Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor
Eddie Gilfoyle says he would rather die in jail than make a false confession
to murdering his wife and their unborn baby.
“I've told them year after year I'm not admitting to something I haven't done. I
don't give a s*** what you do to me. I would sooner die in jail,” Gilfoyle told
The Times in an exclusive interview this week.
He is eligible for parole at the end of the summer after serving 17 years for
the murder of his wife Paula, who was founded hanging in the garage next to
their house in June 1992. But his release could be blocked because he continues
to protest his innocence. One of the conditions for being granted parole is that
the prisoner must have faced up to his supposed criminality. But Gilfoyle
insisted: “I'm not going to start telling stuff to those bastards just so they
can tick boxes. I haven't done it, end of story. I know people find that hard to
understand: this guy spent 17 years in jail, if he admits it he could get out
tomorrow. F*** it. I've got principles. I haven't fought just for the hell of
it. They have had me in jail for 17 years for something I haven't done, the
cheeky bastards. That's putting it mildly.
“My freedom was taken away 17 years ago. I'm never going to be that person
again. Even if they quash my conviction tomorrow the damage is done. Even if
they open the door tomorrow my freedom has gone. I'm not going to get the years
back, my life back, the mental damage, the emotional damage. There are things
that have happened in jail that they are never going to be able to repair.
“I've got to start making a whole new life for myself. Where do I begin? Can I
Speaking by telephone from Sudbury open prison in Derbyshire, he listed the
experiences that he had missed as a result of being in prison: “Going to Paula's
funeral. My dad died; I never spent enough time with him before he died. My mum
Anger and bitterness are close to the surface and he is in no doubt who to
blame. “It was a conclusion-driven investigation,” he said. He blames “the
police, Crown Prosecution Service. The whole judicial system is just beyond a
f****** joke. I've not stopped thinking about Paula and the baby, my trial, the
way I have been treated, the police, the prosecution and the s*** they have come
“A lot of what was put forward at the trial was false or inaccurate and
manipulated to make me look like a bad bastard. I didn't kill Paula. Nobody can
ever ever make me change my mind and make me say that I did. If somebody came up
and said I can give you £10 million, it would make no difference.”
To outsiders, Mrs Gilfoyle gave the appearance of being a happy mother-to-be but
her husband said marriage with her was like living with a split personality. He
accepted that the trial witnesses had all described Mrs Gilfoyle as cheerful.
“Different girl,” he said. “Different person to the one I was living with, trust
me. That wasn't the person I was living with. It was as if I was living with a
schizophrenic. That's not a nice thing to say but when you have all her family
and all her friends saying she was a happy bubbly girl...”
The pregnancy? “She was all right at the beginning and then she got really
moody. She used to change. She could be having a moan and groan at me and then
one of her friends would come to the house, she would be bubbly, then as soon as
she came back she would go back to being miserable, subdued, moaning and arguing
etc. Her friends didn't see that she was this miserable soul.
“I don't know what effect all this is having on her family but I'm not
interested in her family. I'm interested in my family.”
His bitterness is based on the evidence given by Mrs Gilfoyle's relatives in
court that she had been positive and happy. He has also been portrayed as a
liar. He insisted: “I never lied in my police interviews. The fact that I told
the truth is actually coming out now. I have never given up hope. I have never
given up my belief I will get there.”
He continued: “Not a day goes by when I don't think about Paula and the baby.”
Asked if he had grieved, he said: “This is not an environment that you could do
that type of stuff in. Once I'm out of jail I'm going to have to get my head
round it all. Whilst I am in jail I can't.”
In the “suicide note”, Mrs Gilfoyle had written: “Don't blame yourself Eddie.”
But Gilfoyle said: “Too late for that. I blame myself. How can I not? I've let
her do it without knowing that that was her intention. If I look back, all the
signs are there so, yeah, I do blame myself.
“On the morning she died she offered me breakfast in bed. I don't eat breakfast.
She told the wine survey woman [a market researcher who visited the house on the
day she died] she was a twin. It's silly little things like that you can't
dismiss. It plays on your head. Why did she do it on that day? There's no
respite from it. It's just constant soul-searching. It's hard because you are
always looking for 'did I miss that?' The pain doesn't go away. There's no
Gilfoyle was moved in autumn last year from Buckley Hall medium security prison
in Rochdale, where he had been a cleaner and studied for NVQs in industrial
cleaning. He was also given a position of trust as a “listener”, helping new
inmates to settle in. Life is dominated by routine — and small pleasures.
The first surprise when he was brought to his new single cell in Sudbury was
that it had a window which opened, a luxury for a man who had been behind bars
for 16 years. He has been given a job on the farm looking after the cattle and
sheep, for which he is paid £11 a week.
Gilfoyle has to decide whether to spend that money on phone cards, rolling
tobacco or instant coffee. His family send him £10 a week and clothes, bed
coverings and DVDs by Shania Twain, Dire Straits and Bon Jovi. As a young man he
played in local bands; today he has a guitar and sings along, though apparently
his performances have received a mixed reaction from fellow inmates.
He spends £1 a week to have a television in his room. Rather than a uniform, he
is allowed jeans and a sweatshirt. His day ends with a roll-call at 8pm and then
he has a couple of hours relaxation before going to bed.
Gilfoyle expressed gratitude towards those who have supported his campaign for
his conviction to be overturned. “I've got phenomenal support. People who have
seen the truth, read the facts, know my case inside out. They smell a rat. I
don't have to say to them 'Do you smell a rat?' They make their own decisions.”
He mentioned the former Merseyside Assistant Chief Constable, Alison Halford,
who visits him, and David Canter, the criminal profiler who helped to convict
Gilfoyle but now says he is innocent. “She [Alison Halford] is absolutely
disgusted with the way it has been treated,” he said. “She is a fantastic woman
and it takes balls to stand up and do what she has done. So has David Canter had
the balls to say, 'I think I have got this wrong'.”
Eddie Gilfoyle: I didn't
do it, end of story, Ts, 21.2.2009,
Killer's gang cheer after hearing sentence
Thursday, 29 January 2009
By John Fahey and Mike Hornby, Press Association
Three gang members convicted over the killing of schoolboy Rhys Jones cheered
as they left the courtroom today.
They celebrated after the judge ruled they will only serve five years in
prison between them.
James Yates, 21 tomorrow, Nathan Quinn, 18, and Dean Kelly, 17, yelled with
delight after being sentenced for assisting murderer Sean Mercer, 18.
Rhys, 11, was murdered by Mercer in Croxteth, Liverpool, in August 2007.
Last month Mercer, of Good Shepherd Close, Croxteth, was jailed for a minimum
The trio left the bullet-proof dock after winking and smiling at family and
friends at Liverpool Crown Court.
Seconds later they were heard celebrating loudly and a security guard was also
heard telling them to be quiet.
After time on remand is taken in to account, the Croxteth Crew members' actual
time served will be five years but the full sentences totalled 13.
Yates, who supplied Mercer with the 1915 Smith and Wesson used to gun down the
innocent schoolboy, was given a seven-year sentence.
He was also convicted of assisting Mercer dump the gun and the killer's clothing
for which he will serve two concurrent six-year terms.
Yates, of Dodman Road, Croxteth, will serve half his sentence - like his
co-accused - and have 286 days on remand, knocked off.
He will be out at the start of 2012.
After Mercer killed Rhys on the car park of the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth, Yates
was at the centre of a plan to avoid justice.
He rushed to Mercer's aid as they converged at the home of Boy M - who cannot be
named - with Nathan Quinn.
The judge, Mr Justice Irwin, told Yates: "There is strong evidence you were an
active gang member, trusted by Mercer.
"It was evident that you and Quinn were first on the scene at the home of Boy M.
"I have no doubt you were a willing assistant helping in any way you could."
Nathan Quinn, of Wickett Close, Croxteth, is already serving five years for
possession of a gun.
The thickset teenager - who has had nine rulings against him for fights behind
bars - accompanied the gang who transported Mercer to Kirkby, Liverpool, where
he was doused in petrol in order to clean him of evidence.
Last month, Quinn was convicted unanimously by a jury of two counts of assisting
He was due to be released from his current sentence in June 2010 - imposed for
trying to buy a gun just weeks after Rhys's murder.
Today he was jailed for two more. He will serve only one of those and be
released in June 2011.
As he was led from the dock he looked at a friend in the public gallery and
pulled a face of surprised glee.
Mr Justice Irwin told him: "You were relied upon by Mercer and went directly
"You were there to help in any way you could with the gun and clothing and, I
have no doubt, with anything else that needed to be done.
"From the pre-sentence report you continue to deny the offences.
"You acknowledge your gang membership, claim friendship with Yates, but suggest
you had nothing to do with the events of that evening.
"This demonstrates that you are still hiding from the truth.
"It is very significant you are already serving a five-year sentence for
possession of a firearm and ammunition."
Dean Kelly, 17, of Sword Walk, Croxteth, was sentenced to four years for
possession of guns, ammunition and assisting an offender.
The court heard he was expelled from school at just 14 despite every effort
being made to accommodate him and control his behaviour.
When Rhys was murdered Kelly was drifting along, with no job, training or
education and he moved out of his grandfather's house because he tried to make
In the aftermath of Rhys's murder, Kelly hid the murder weapon and made sure the
gang's plans to avoid detection were being implemented by a witness who turned
Kelly - who has an ASBO for terrorising sports centre staff - got involved with
the gang's plan on 26 August, four days after the murder.
The judge said: "By the 26th the killing was all over your estate and the
country but you moved the murder weapon in the middle of that outcry."
Boy M, 16, who has attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and was
previously beaten up by his gang mates for "grassing", was given a two-year
supervision order with a four month 7pm to 7am curfew for assisting an offender.
He had dumped some of Mercer's clothes, the bike used to cycle from the murder
scene and the gun.
James Hughes, 22, of Willow Way, Croxteth, was jailed for six months for lying
to police about Boy M's whereabouts when Rhys was killed.
The judge told him the "stupid gang culture" ruled because people were scared
and intimidated into lying.
Hughes had to be jailed, said the judge, in a bid to make people scared of lying
to the police.
Fellow gang members Gary Kays, 26, and Melvin Coy, 25, both of West Derby,
Liverpool, were jailed for seven years for their part in the cover up.
Detectives built their case by bugging the homes of Boy M and Yates which
harvested damning audio evidence.
A teenager close to the gangs confessed his involvement to police, was given
immunity from prosecution and gave evidence during the 11 week trial.
Today, Rhys's parents Steven, 45, and Melanie, 43, sat side by side in court and
Killer's gang cheer
after hearing sentence, I, 29.1.2009,
Teenager stabbed man to death after 'I feel like killing'
message on Facebook
Killer given minimum of 17 years for 'senseless and unprovoked' murder in
Thursday 29 January 2009
A teenager who posted a message on Facebook saying he felt "like killin
some1", hours before he stabbed a man to death in a crowded bar, was sentenced
to a minimum of 17 years in prison today.
Leon Craig Ramsden, 19, stabbed 31-year-old Paul Gilligan while he was drinking
in The Pepper Alley, in Bolton, Lancashire, six months ago.
While in the bar last July Gilligan, of Little Hulton, Salford, was stabbed in
his shoulder and chest. He died from his injuries an hour after the attack,
Manchester crown court heard.
Ramsden, of Turnstone Road, Bolton, had posted a message on his Facebook wall
earlier that evening which read: "I'm twisted at home. My head's up my arse. I
feel like killin some1 need to stay off the hard stuff ha fuck it it's Saturday
Sentencing Ramsden to a minimum of 17 years in prison for the murder, the judge,
Justice Teare, said: "Paul Gilligan was 31 years old. He lived with his partner
and three children. His death has caused great suffering to them and also to his
parents and his two brothers."
He added: "This was a senseless and unprovoked murder which has devastated Paul
The court previously heard that Ramsden went on a three-day alcohol and
cocaine-fuelled binge before the attack and had not slept for 36 hours before
his attack on Gilligan.
Guy Gozem QC, prosecuting, told the jury that several customers in the bar had
seen the "unexpected" and "brutal" attack but did not realise that Ramsden had
stabbed Gilligan as the knife was concealed in his fist. The two men were
thought to be "play fighting" minutes before the incident.
Ramsden left the bar, but returned seconds later and stabbed Gilligan, then ran
away. He was arrested that evening when a nightclub doorman found him carrying a
knife sheath and alerted the police.
The judge told Ramsden today: "You left Pepper Alley after the headlock and
decided to return. You could simply have left the area of the club but you chose
to return and stab Paul Gilligan."
He added: "Nothing Paul Gilligan did could justify or excuse your actions. I
therefore do not regard provocation as a mitigating factor."
Ramsden's entry on the social networking website Facebook was deleted but then
recovered in the course of the investigation from a laptop that had been used by
a witness to access the site after news of the stabbing.
The teenager, who was handcuffed to a prison guard in court today, showed no
emotion as the sentence was passed.
Outside the court Detective Inspector Mark Roters, from Greater Manchester
police, read a statement on behalf of Gilligan's partner and family.
The statement read: "We worked so hard for justice to get a young, dangerous,
lad off the streets for a long time. This youth has never shown remorse and he
felt he was untouchable. He knew he had killed a man, one loved by many, in a
heartless, shocking, cowardly stabbing.
"Paul didn't deserve this, nor would he have anticipated such brutality. He is
greatly missed and was such a happy, social, family man. We will never get over
Roters said: "Ramsden is a pathetic individual who believed he had been slighted
by Paul in front of a crowd of people. As revenge for this, Ramsden killed him.
This was a needless and extremely violent attack that resulted in the death of a
"Ramsden's behaviour has resulted in the loss of well-loved father, son, brother
and friend. He now has a long time to reflect on what he has done."
Teenager stabbed man to
death after 'I feel like killing' message on Facebook, G, 29.1.2009,