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Dear Suffolk Police...

Brigitte Butcher

By Brigitte Butcher on 18/09/14

Dear Suffolk Police...
I’m on the 5 hour journey from my home to see my brother Kevin Nunn, who is currently residing at HMP Garth in Preston, Lancashire. He was given a 22 year life sentence in November 2006 for murdering his ex-girlfriend - a crime he did not commit.    As I type those words - 22 years – I never ever thought that with such flimsy circumstantial evidence and so many assumptions, so much hearsay, Kevin would ever have been convicted but how desperately wrong I was.

Now, nearly 8 years on, I’m still travelling up the M6 to see him.  I always find the journey a time for reflection.  It is a time too for Kevin to  go over what went wrong in the courtroom, the many setbacks he has faced in maintaining his innocence and how we can prove he did not murder he ex-girlfriend – who else can he offload to?  

As I drive along the M6, Thin Lizzy is playing on the radio and it reminds me of our days as teenagers at the local youth club in Fornham.   That same small village in which the body of Kevin’s ex-girlfriend, Dawn Walker, was found in February 2005.  It was a place we knew well, a place where we grew up. My sister and I worked as community nurses at the time of the murder but we have now both moved out of the area.  Kevin worked as a Sales Rep, his only ever encounter with the law was a speeding fine.  

Our mother and father, now in their 70s, are both in very poor health exacerbated by Kevin’s wrongful conviction in 2006 at Ipswich Crown Court.  They still live locally and find it desperately hard to cope with what has happened to Kevin.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for them to travel the 400 mile round-trip to see their son; the impact on all of us, family and friends, has been enormous. 

It was an awful, hideous crime which has been well documented and covered over the years and  most recently in the Supreme Court with the devastating decision, for Kevin at least, handed down in June this year.   The judges decided that Suffolk Police had acted lawfully in not allowing the forensic samples requested to be reviewed by experts instructed by Kevin’s solicitor, James Saunders of Saunders Law.  These crime scene samples hold the answers to who murdered Dawn Walker. Kevin has always wanted everything tested and yet, here in 21st century England with forensic science advances making it possible to know the identity of the murderer, Suffolk police won’t allow it.

From day one of Kevin’s wrongful conviction in 2006 our family  has written to MPs, held banners over motorways, distributed leaflets, put up posters, and been asked by Suffolk Police to take down the banners and posters.  We set up a website, tried to get support in both local and national newspapers, knocked on doors in an effort to gather even more insight into the case, putting together more written evidence.  We desperately need to review key forensic exhibits to help join up the gaps of this very complex case.

We have ever only asked Suffolk Police for the opportunity to re-test the forensic samples gathered at the crime scene. DNA analysis at that time could not ascertain any conclusive results or a link to show the true perpetrator.  The manner in which the victim had been killed would leave an abundance of DNA material, scientists say. 

From the many samples obtained at the crime scene: blood found under the finger clippings from the victim, a bundle of matches wrapped together with tape, a cigarette butt, petrol cap, victim’s clothing; the list is endless.   However, the key exhibit is a small amount of spermatozoa - Kevin had had a vasectomy some years previously. Suffolk Constabulary, the original investigating police force which is the legal “owner” of these exhibits, has the power to say whether new work can be done. They have refused. 

I keep Kevin fully informed of any developments and any appropriate news that could possibly help his case. The most relevant piece of news this month was published in 
the Guardian – 2 September 2014 – covering the case in North Carolina, USA, of the longest serving death row prisoners, McCollom and Brown, half-brothers who were dramatically  released  after spending 30 years behind bars for rape and murder of a young girl in 1983.

What makes this case in America so compelling is the overwhelming strength of evidence that was presented to the court earlier this month – DNA evidence. It proved beyond doubt that the biological material collected from the crime scene did not link these men to the crime.  In fact, a positive match was found to a man living near to where the body of the victim, Sabrina Buie, was found. 

During my visit I told Kevin about the case.    After he’d received a copy of the article, I asked him to comment… 

       â€œ Now finally McCollom and Brown are rightly free following their complete exoneration by the use of latest up to date DNA analysis techniques… It is worth taking a long hard look at this case as it clearly demonstrates better than most the capacity for DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent.”

For McCollom and Brown in North Carolina, USA, the court’s decision to release them after 30 years was based solely on the retesting of DNA samples found at the crime scene.  Those samples proved without doubt that they could not have been the perpetrators.  Counsel Ann Kirby from the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry said “This case highlights in a most dramatic manner the importance of finding the truth”.

Kevin is only asking for the chance to clear his name. I just cannot understand why Suffolk Police would not also want to know whether an innocent man has been imprisoned and a dangerous murderer remains free.