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Hoxton Celebrates

By Louise Shorter on 31/05/12

Hoxton Celebrates

From Inside Time June 2012 

From Inside Time June 2012  

All of Hoxton turned out for Sam Hallam last month as the “shell-shocked” 24 year-old returned to his home borough in London, following the successful appeal against his murder conviction.

Sam Hallam had protested his innocence since he was arrested as part of a mob attack of a young Ethiopian man who had gone to the assistance of a friend in Old Street, London in 2004. A re-investigation by Thames Valley Police ordered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) led to the discovery of vital evidence which cleared Sam Hallam of involvement and had been missed at the time of the original murder investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

The opportunity to find missed evidence was the goal for campaigners in another alleged miscarriage of justice case – that of Kevin Nunn who was convicted of murder in 2006 and sentenced to a minimum of 22 years. But attempts in his case, to get access to crime scene exhibits for re-testing, finally reached a disappointing outcome for his campaign team at the High Court last month. It is a judgment which will have significant ramifications for other miscarriage of justice victims and campaigners seeking access to exhibits post-conviction.

An action brought by Kevin Nunn’s legal team challenged the decision of Suffolk Constabulary the original murder investigation force - not to release exhibits to defence experts for new testing.

Kevin Nunn’s sister Brigitte Butcher told Inside Time her father has used life savings of £50,000 to help his son clear his name. But the Court pointed to the defence expert’s own admission that “even if further examinations were undertaken and DNA results obtained where none had been before, it would not necessarily exclude the claimant as the murderer.”

The Judgments in both the Nunn and the Hallam cases serve as a reminder to us all for the need for vigilance at the time of the original murder investigation and defence at trial in pursuing all leads. In Sam Hallam’s case the CCRC used its statutory powers to order a re-investigation by an outside police force – only the 48th time it has done so in its 15 year history of considering more than 14,000 cases.

In Kevin Nunn’s case the defence team hoped for the opportunity to turn up new evidence themselves by commissioning work which the Nunn family was prepared to pay for privately. But the judges ruled “what is essentially sought by the claimant is access to material to enable the case to be re-investigated and reexamined. The time for that investigation and examination was the trial.” While that may well be so, it was a re-examination of the case which led to the release of Sam Hallam and the refusal to allow Kevin Nunn this opportunity will deny him the possibility of the same.

Louise Shorter runs Inside Justice which is a not-for-profit unit set up to investigate alleged miscarriages of justices. It is funded by charitable donations from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Newsum Charitable
Trust and Inside Time.

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