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Miscarriages of Justice

With the death of Gerry Conlon, a member of the Guildford Four, on 22nd June, it is apt to reflect upon recent miscarriages of justice cases.

The MoJ has refused to pay compensation to Victor Nealon, who was wrongly imprisoned for 17 years before being freed on appeal.

Victor Nealon, originally from Dublin, was convicted of the attempted rape of a woman outside a night club in Redditch, Worcestershire in 2007.  The alleged attacker was described as having a strong Scottish accent and a lump on his forehead.  Mr Nealon had neither and, despite having an alibi, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.  He was not paroled as he consistently maintained his innocence. 

On 13th December last year, the Court of Appeal heard DNA material found on the then 22-year-old victim's blouse belonged to an "unknown male" and called into doubt the jury's original guilty verdict.  His conviction was declared unsafe and he was freed within hours.  He was given £46 and a train ticket to Shrewsbury on leaving prison.   

However, Mr Nealon’s application for compensation has been refused by the MoJ   The MoJ said the owner of the DNA could not be identified, and added it could not be established that it "undoubtedly belonged to the attacker".

Mr Nealon’s solicitor has stated that his client will seek a judicial review of the decision.  Read an article by The Justice Gap here.

Belfast man, Frank Newell, was sentenced to four years in prison for a robbery in Lisburn in August 1973.  He always maintained his innocence insisting the car was hijacked by thieves linked to loyalist paramilitaries.

On 16th June, before the Northern Irish Court of Appeal, his lawyers argued that police and the prosecution failed to disclose three categories of information during the non-jury trial.    They pointed to evidence which showed high-ranking police officers believed Mr Newell was innocent. 

The Court allowed the appeal with one of the three panel judges stating          ‘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.’

Congratulations to our stakeholder, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, who acted for Mr Newell.

Local Developments, Miscarriages of Justice