News Roundup Week Ending 20 June
By Charlotte Rowles on 20/06/14Share:
Inside Justice was alerted to the case known as the Craigavon Two this week and asked to help publicise the case which we are pleased to do here http://justiceforthecraigavontwo.com/”
The Ministry of Justice has refused to pay compensation to Victor Nealon, the former postman who was wrongly imprisoned for 17 years before being freed on appeal last December.
Nealon was convicted in January 1997 of the attempted rape of a woman leaving a nightclub in Redditch, Worcestershire, and was not paroled because he consistently denied the offence.
Nealon is now living in temporary accommodation in Birmingham, where he has been since being suddenly discharged from the category A Wakefield prison in December. He said: "I'm still picking up the pieces of my life. My fight isn't over. It's going to take years."
The Criminal Cases Review Commission finally referred Nealon's case to the court of appeal in 2013, after accepting his legal team's argument that DNA traces from a single, unknown male on the 22-year-old victim's clothing may have come from the attacker. The court of appeal ruled that had the jury been aware of DNA evidence, as well as weaknesses in the identification evidence, "it could well have led to the appellant's acquittal".
But he continued to protest his innocence, insisting that his car was hijacked by the thieves who took £3,000 in the robbery which was linked to loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). His case was referred back to the Court of Appeal after being studied by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, a body which examines potential miscarriages of justice.
The court heard that Mr Newell had been scared to name those who hijacked his car because of the consequences for him and his family. His barrister Karen Quinlivan QC, pointed to evidence dating to the 1970s that showed high-ranking police officers believed Mr Newell was innocent.
"You have significant body within the RUC and beyond expressing concern about the safety of the conviction, but nobody seems to take the next step," she told the court. Urging the three-judge panel to quash the conviction, she insisted: "Mr Newell has been an unfortunate victim of a miscarriage of justice and spent four years in custody. It has caused him great stress and anxiety, even still."
At one stage in the hearing Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "It does appear that there are periods when there was a disconnect between the investigative criminal justice branch of the police and the intelligence side of the police." The panel of three judges allowed the appeal. Full written reasons will be given at a later stage.
Mr Newell, who was in court with his wife Myrtle and their three children, hugged his lawyers after the decision was announced.
"I feel great that this is all over and I have been declared an innocent man," he said. His daughter, Franchine Young, said: "We are absolutely delighted. This has been a long time coming, it's been a stigma hanging over us."
She said the family's battle to have the conviction overturned involved lobbying and campaigning government representatives. Human rights group, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), also fought to get the case heard. CAJ representative Gemma McKeown said: "We're delighted our client's conviction has been quashed, and question why the prosecution was taken at the time."