Andrew L. Urban.
The worst possible failure of a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is to TWICE refuse to review a case on the request of the accused before DNA proves the accused was wrongfully convicted in the first place – 17 years earlier. And to repeat the refusals with another convicted applicant. (Mis)managing forensic information is at the heart of the failures. Should the CCRC UK sack its boss?
Scotland’s Sunday Post (24/1/2024) quotes Andrew Malkinson, who spent 17 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of rape, calling for the head of the CCRC, Helen Pitcher, to be sacked and stripped of her OBE.
Andrew Malkinson spoke out after his legal team discovered striking similarities between his own ordeal and an earlier case, involving a man called Victor Nealon.
Both cases were based on identification evidence alone, with the presence of another man’s DNA in saliva on the victim’s clothing eventually clearing them of the crime.
They each applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) asking for their cases to be referred to the Court of Appeal, but were rejected twice. In Nealon’s case, a CCRC internal review in 2013 found the forensic evidence that cleared him could have been discovered as early as 2003 – 10 years before he was finally freed.
It said: “It is possible that the cellular material might have been discovered had relevant testing been arranged in 2003, when this matter was reviewed for the second time. Equally, it is possible that DNA profiles would have been obtained had that material been tested.”
Former postman Victor Nealon, who is in his 50s and originally from Dublin, was found guilty in 1997 of the attempted rape of a woman in Redditch, Worcestershire, serving 17 years in jail – 10 years more than his seven-year minimum term because he persisted in asserting he was innocent. (One of the most perverse and irrational aspects of legal procedures.)
His conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal in December 2013 after the new DNA evidence was unearthed.
Nealon had applied for his 1996 conviction to be reviewed by the CCRC in 1998 and 2002, but was rejected, eventually succeeding in 2010 after his lawyers commissioned DNA testing.
A government-commissioned inquiry and an internal CCRC investigation are being carried out into the failings in Malkinson’s case. He said: “… there has been a serious corporate failure at the CCRC, yet the body’s chair, Helen Pitcher, still refuses to apologise to me.”