Boyfriend `could not have killed my parents'

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The Independent Online
The girlfriend of a businessman convicted of murdering her parents yesterday said she was certain his appeal would succeed. Cheryl Tooze, 36, spoke of her belief in Jonathan Jones's innocence outside the Court of Appeal after three judges were told that his conviction was based on "suspicion, speculation and conjecture".

Harry Tooze, 64, and his wife, Megan, 67, were each shot once in the back of the head with a shotgun at their farm at Llanharry, Mid Glamorgan. Miss Tooze said: "I have always said that Jonathan is innocent from the very beginning. This will be demonstrated over the next few days by his QC, because there was absolutely no evidence to convict him.

"Sometimes I feel frustrated and helpless and I wish there was more I could do because my real fight begins when he is released and the investigation begins again to find my parents' real killers."

John Rees QC, representing Jones, told the appeal judges that the murder method would have resulted in the killer being covered in blood and brain tissue but there was never any forensic evidence at the Newport Crown Court trial in April last year that would link Jones with the crime. Jones, 36, of Orpington, Kent, was convicted on a 10-2 majority verdict after the prosecution claimed he paid a surprise visit to the farm in July 1993, and had tea with the couple before shooting them.

Mr Rees said it was never proved Jones was anywhere near the farmhouse at the time of the killings and he would be bringing fresh evidence to back his claim that he was looking for an office in Orpington for Miss Tooze. The prosecution alleged Jones went by train to Wales that day, returning home to Orpington between 7.30pm and 8.00pm.

Mr Rees said a man in a trenchcoat was seen at Pontyclun railway station that day but three witnesses gave evidence at the trial that this man was definitely not Jones.

His own alibi, that he spoke to lift engineers in Orpington during the day of the killings, was never disproved.

Police examined his clothes, car and even took washbasins apart to try to find evidence linking him to the killings, said Mr Rees.

"They found nothing. The killer would have been liberally spattered with blood and brain tissue. He would have been dishevelled from carrying tarpaulin sheets and from moving bodies."

Jones's sight is poor and he has to wear glasses at all times. Police examined the crevices of his glasses but there were no traces of blood or tissue.

The prosecution originally claimed at the trial that Jones's motive was money, said Mr Rees. But this was not developed and was eventually dropped. He said that, as a couple, Miss Tooze and Jones earned pounds 24-25,000 a year and paid very little rent. "They were rather well off rather than people who were in dire financial straits."

In his summing-up to the jury, Mr Justice Rougier revived the financial motive and in doing so misdirected the jury, said Mr Rees.

The judge also told the jury that Jones would have inherited pounds 150,000 from the Tooze family if he had married Cheryl but there was no evidence that they intended to marry, they were happy living together as man and wife, said Mr Rees.

The appeal, being heard by Lord Justice Rose, Mr Justice Dyson and Mr Justice Gage, was adjourned to today.