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    Have These Men Been Locked Away in UK Jails for Years for Murders They Did Not Commit?

    © RIA Novosti . Chris Summers/Sputnik News
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    There are around 90,000 people in Britain’s jails, serving time for everything from fraud and burglary to rape and multiple murders. But are some serving time for crimes they did not commit? Sputnik investigates.

    On 26 June 2019 Thomas “TC” Campbell, 66, died in his sleep at his home in Scotland, 15 years after finally having his name cleared of one of Britain’s most terrible crimes.

    Campbell, and his friend Joe Steele, spent 18 years behind bars for the murder of six members of the Doyle family, who died when their home on the Ruchazie housing estate in Glasgow was set on fire.

    The victims included an 18-month-old boy and the killings were linked to Glasgow’s Ice Cream Wars.

    Campbell and Steele were convicted on trumped-up evidence and bogus confessions, known as “verbals”.

    The Rettendon Two

    On a freezing cold night in December 1995 three drug dealers – Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolph were shot dead in a Range Rover which was parked down a country lane near the village of Rettendon in Essex.

    ​The trio had been connected to the supply of the ecstasy at a Basildon nightclub which led to the high profile death of teenager Leah Betts.

    Two men, Jack Whomes and Mick Steele, were later convicted of the murders on the word of supergrass Darren Nicholls but Whomes and Steele have always denied being involved.

    Both are still in jail, having been given minimum tariffs of 25 years.

    Whomes’ mother, Pam, told Sputnik in 2017 the conviction was the most glaring miscarriage of justice in recent British criminal history.

    She said her husband, also called Jack, went to see her son in prison before his death from cancer in 2011.  

    Mrs Whomes said: "My husband said 'Can you just say you done it so you can come out and look after your mother when I've gone' and Jack said 'No, I'm sorry. I can't do that, not even for you'.”

    The ‘Beauty in the Bath" Killer 

    In October 1983 Cynthia Bolshaw was found face down in a bath full of water at her home in the Wirral peninsula, near Liverpool.

    But she had not drowned by accident or taken her own life. She had been strangled and then placed in the bath.

    ​The attractive 50-year-old divorcee - who was soon referred to as the “Beauty In The Bath” by the press - had an active sex life and her lovers included a US magician, a Ugandan police officer and an officer in the Sultan of Oman’s army.  

    But Mrs Bolshaw’s murder remained a mystery for 16 years.

    Then in November 1999 John Taft, a married man who had been having an affair with her, was convicted by a 10-2 decision by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court.

    Taft was convicted on the basis of a devastating statement from his ex-wife Barbara and a match between a semen stain on a negligee found on Mrs Bolshaw's bed.

    His second wife Susan Hogan-Taft continues to maintain his innocence.

    The Hot Dog Wars

    In August 1990 Gary Thompson, 27, and John Weston, 29, were shot dead at a house in Oadby, near Leicester.

    Warren Slaney, 23, was jailed for life for the crime, which became known as the 'Hot Dog' murders because Thompson owned a string of fast-food vans and had made enemies with a number of rival vendors.

    Slaney’s co-accused, Terence Burke, claimed the shooting was a bungled robbery linked to an insurance fraud but it was his evidence which convicted Slaney.

    ​Slaney has always claimed he is innocent and said he was at a family party at the time of the shootings - 2am. Nine people said he was at the party until at least 4.30am.

    His supporters also point out that eyewitnesses said the killers were both over six feet tall, while Slaney is only five feet eight inches.

    There have been claims over the years the “hit” on Thompson was actually ordered by Ramzy Khachik, an Iraqi-born nightclub owner who spent time in prison for drug dealing.

    Thomas Bourke 

    In December 1994 two Department of Transport inspectors, Alan Singleton and Simon Bruno, were shot dead in an office at a garage in Stockport, near Manchester.

    Eventually garage owner and mechanic Thomas Bourke was convicted of the murders and jailed for life.

    But his trial was distorted by an incident in Strangeways prison when a gun was found and it was said to be intended for Bourke’s escape.

    In the event a huge armed presence was placed around the trial and it is widely believed this influenced the jury.

    ​Bourke has always insisted he is innocent.

    John Haase, the Liverpool drug dealer who had smuggled the gun in and then pointed the finger at Haase, was later jailed for 22 years for perverting the course of justice.

    Last year Bourke wrote to a Sputnik journalist from prison, and his solicitor Jane Hickman said they had a “host of material which suggests he did not commit this murder and the process of justice miscarried really badly.”

    His sister, Jo Holt, said: “He prays to God the truth will out. He is more positive than me. In prison some people get down in the dumps but he has a strong mental attitude and it has got him through all these years in prison.”

    Omar Benguit

    Omar Benguit, 31, was jailed for life for the murder on 12 July 2002 of Jong-Ok Shin, a 26-year-old South Korean student who was stabbed as she walked home in Bournemouth.

    The dying student said her killer had been wearing a mask and attacked her for no reason.

    The main prosecution witness against him was Beverley Brown, a drug-addicted prostitute, who later went onto TV’s Jeremy Kyle Show and gave a version of events which was different to what she said in court.

    ​He has always denied killing her and in recent years evidence has emerged which suggests the real killer could have been Danilo Restivo, an Italian national who was convicted in 2011 of the horrific murder of 48-year-old Heather Barnett, also in Bournemouth in 2002.

    Benguit’s case was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2012 but was rejected two years later and he remains in prison.

    Kevin Lane 

    On 2 October 1994 Robert Magill, 44, a car dealer and criminal, was shot dead while walking his dogs in the woods near his home in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.  

    Kevin Lane, 26, from was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in March 1996 while Roger Vincent, 22, and David Smith, 23, were acquitted.

    The trial heard Lane was paid £100,000 to kill Magill.

    But Lane has always protested his innocence and says a corrupt police officer was responsible for his conviction.

    In August 2005 Vincent and Smith were convicted of murdering another criminal, Dave King, at a gym in Hoddesdon and jailed for life.

    The Potato Knife Murder

    On 9 February 1995 Margaret Wilson, 66, was stabbed in the neck with a sharp knife in a country lane near her son’s farm in Burton Fleming, East Yorkshire.

    Derek Christian, 32, a former soldier who worked at a potato chip factory in Scarborough, was jailed for life in 1997.

    The trial heard Margaret Wilson's clothes were "microscopically indistinguishable" from the 78 fibres found on Derek Christian's clothing.

    The prosecution were unable to prove any motive for why he would have killed Mrs Wilson, who was a complete stranger, but they highlighted that the murder weapon was stained with potatoes.

    His family have always claimed he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

    Christian is still serving his life sentence in Frankland prison in County Durham.

    James Thompson

    On 30 December 2009 Anthony Johnson, 47, was kicked to death on a night out in Southport, Merseyside. 

    James Thompson, 25, was jailed for life for murder.

    Thompson’s family claim he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

    Ricky Percival 

    On 14 February 2001 Dean Boshell, 24, a petty criminal and police informant, was shot and dumped on allotments at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

    Ricky Percival, a drug dealer, was jailed for life in 2006 with a minimum tariff of 28 years.

    The main prosecution witness was Damon Alvin, a supergrass who had originally been a suspect.

    Percival continues to protest his innocence.

    Delphon Nicholas 

    In 2008 Delphon Nicholas was jailed for life for the murder of Andrew Wanogho, who was shot in a street in Brockley, south east London after being lured by a “honey trap” in the form of Sereata Barrie.

    Nicholas was in jail at the time of the murder but the prosecution claimed he organised the killing using a smuggled mobile phone.

    Trevor Dennie, the gunman, was also jailed for life but Barrie and two others were acquitted.

    Nicholas, who insists a crucial phone call did not connect, maintains his innocence.

    His last appeal was rejected in 2011.

    Tags:
    miscarriage of justice, Prison, murder
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