Decision soon on M25 Three

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A DECISION is expected "within weeks" on whether controversial convictions in the cases of the so-called "M25 Three" are referred back to the Court of Appeal.

The men were jailed for life in 1990 for what was described as an "orgy of violence" in towns and villages around the London orbital road, which left one man dead.

They have been supported by a vigorous campaign group which has complained bitterly at the length of time they have been waiting for a decision on the case from the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Now the body set up to investigate miscarriages of justice has indicated that a ruling on whether to put the case before the Court of Appeal is likely early this month.

The decision will come nearly nine years after the three - Raphael Rowe, Michael Davis and Randolph Johnson - were sentenced for a series of attacks carried out in one night in December 1988. The men, from Sydenham, south London, were convicted of the murder, in Warlingham, Surrey, of Peter Hurburgh who, with his homosexual lover was dragged from his car at gunpoint, tied up, beaten and doused with petrol. The assault led Mr Hurburgh to have a fatal heart attack.

Later, on the same night, men broke into the home of a retired businessman in Oxted and stabbed his 40-year-old son. The next attack took place in a house in Fetcham, where a couple were tied up as their home was ransacked.

The violent nature of the robberies shocked police and local residents and a pounds 25,000 reward was offered for information on the gang.

The description of the perpetrators, given by victims and issued by the police to the public, was of a gang of two white men and a black man. One victim described one of the gang as being fair-haired and blue-eyed. However, the three men convicted were all black. They were convicted largely on the evidence of three accomplices who did not face any charges in connection with the crime.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission announced it was reviewing the cases in 1997.