Sunday, 31 March 2013

Dubious Convictions

Today I am looking at two convictions for murder going back to 1972 & 1980.  One was freed after twenty five years in prison for something he did not do, the other still remains in prison(I believe) despite evidence that showed Police pressurised a witness to change her statement.  The first case was that of Andy Owens, a soldier facing a dischsrge from the Army on medical grounds.  Owens was stationed at Tamworth Barracks, but was facing a mental breakdown, and he went into a Police station claiming to have seen the face of a murdered girl in his dreams, and would they show him a picture as to ease his mind.  There had been a murder of a young lady and so was immediately taken into custody, and after three days of intensive questioning, he "confessed" to the murder.  This was in the days when a suspect did not exist at the station until the Police said so.  Owens was lifed off.  His mental state was unimportant as was glaring inconsistencies in the "evidence" which convicted him. 

    The most outstanding was the fact that it was acknowledged that the killer would have been absolutely covered in blood.  Not one stitch of clothing or uniform of Owens` had ANY blood on it all.  Owens went through his sentence saying he was guilty and this put him into an open prison and then he decided that years of admitting his guilt was too much and he declared that he was in fact totally innocent.  Owens was waiting for a parole hearing when he was instantly transferred to a much higher security jail.  Eventually he was released in 1997 ater serving twenty five years, and his conviction overturned.

    The second case concerns a man named Alfred Fox from near Rotherham in South Yorkshire.  Convicted in 1980 for murdering his wife and her mother in an arson attack, he was convicted on circumstantial evidence and most importantly, a witness.  This witness, a woman named Myrtle Westhead who lived across the road from the scene of the crime, saw a car exactly like the one that Fox owned, driving quickly away from the scene.  Fox received life imprisonment despite the fact he did have alibi evidence.  It was in 1992, that Fox`s lawyer came across a statement from Mrs Westhead, an early statement in which Mrs Westhead stated the car was completely different from the one she later said.  Contained in the files was also an instruction from a senior officer requesting detectives go to see the witness to see if she would change her identification.  After a couple of weeks of visits from the Police, she changed her statement.  All this has not been enough for his conviction to be overturned.  All in the good cause of "Noble Corruption."