Newspaper journalists taking photos

View all News

‘Murderer’ loses judicial review of CCRC’s refusal to refer for appeal

(Posted on 21/05/19)


Paul Cleeland served 26 years in prison for the 1972 Hertfordshire murder of Terry Clarke. He has always maintained he was at home with his wife at the time but legal challenges over the years have failed.

This month he lost his latest High Court legal battle: a judicial review of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) decision not to refer his case to appeal.

Clarke, a suspected gangland boss, was shot with two rounds outside his Stevenage home in the early hours of Bonfire Night. Hours later, parts of a gun were found nearby, the barrels holding two spent cartridges.

Cleeland compared his case to that of Barry George, cleared of Jill Dando's murder after doubt was cast on the significance of gunshot residue evidence. A report by independent expert Dudley Gibbs concluded that there was "a high probability that the murder weapon was different from the one cited" in the original trial.

Mr Gibbs, who has worked on a series of papers on the case, was asked by Cleeland's defence team to review a pathology report from 1972. In January, his latest report concluded that, "given that the shot size of the pellets in the body was No 7s, the No 6 shot in the Blue Rival cartridges found with the Gye and Moncrieff (G&M) shotgun did not kill the man."

The CCRC refused an application to include Mr Gibbs' report declaring: "If there was substance in the point as a matter of scientific analysis, which we doubt, it could and should have been raised long ago.

"There is no complete proof that the G&M gun fired the wadding found at the scene. However, the totality of the evidence does provide a link between the gun, the claimant and the murder."

Lord Justice Simon said, while firearms residue analysis had developed considerably since 1973, the Barry George decision did "not throw significant light on the issue".

Cleeland, of Folkestone, Kent, dismissed his barrister at the latest hearing, as has become his practice: "The reason I have represented myself is I have been seeking the truth."

Lord Justice Simon and Mrs Justice Farbey considered the CCRC's conclusions sufficient.

The CCRC said it was not appropriate to comment.