Cell death evidence 'has been undermined'

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POLICE evidence against a man who was convicted for the murder of his cellmate has been 'substantially undermined', the Court of Appeal was told yesterday, writes Rachel Borrill.

Michael Mansfield QC, for Malcolm Kennedy, asked Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice, sitting with Mr Justice Judge and Mr Justice Hidden, to quash the murder conviction because several police officers had lied.

'The Crown's case has been substantially undermined by police officers contradicting themselves on oath,' he said.

Kennedy, 45, had been found guilty of murdering Patrick Quinn, a cellmate in Hammersmith police station, west London, on 24 December 1990, after both men had been arrested for drunkenness. At his trial in September 1991 Kennedy claimed it was the police who battered Mr Quinn to death.

Mr Mansfield said two police officers had given conflicting evidence 'about the crux of the case'. Sergeant Peter Bleakly, of Hammersmith police station, told the court that he did not interrupt an interview to tell another officer, Constable Emlyn Welsh, that Mr Quinn had been found dead before it was officially announced.

'I deny ever entering the interview rooom. I did not know about the death until after the body was discovered at 1.50am,' he said.

But PC Welsh insisted that Sgt Bleakly interrupted the interview and told him to finish it as soon as possible. 'There was a knock on the interview room door and Sgt Bleakly told me there had been an incident in the custody suite,' he said.

Mr Mansfield described this conflicting evidence as 'a fatal nail in the coffin of the Crown's case' and said the discovery of the body was stage-managed to implicate Kennedy.

The appeal is to continue on Tuesday.