Ex-soldier wins fight to overturn conviction for murder

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The Independent Online

A former British soldier had his conviction for murder overturned yesterday after a 16-year struggle to clear his name over the rape and murder of a schoolgirl.

Richard Simmons won the right to compensation for five of the eight years of the 15-year sentence he had spent in prison after being found guilty of killing 18-year-old Sabine Rosenbohm in Lubecke, Germany, in 1985 and jailed in 1986.

However, the Munster state court upheld the verdict of attempted rape in the case of an another woman, which accounted for three-and-a-half years of the original sentence.

The 41-year-old former ambulance driver, who had joined the Army at 16 and served with the 54th Engineer and Ambulance Squadron of the Royal Corps of Transport, had always maintained his innocence.

He was freed from prison in 1994 when DNA analysis led to the conclusion that traces of semen found on the victim's body were not his. Despite this, the German authorities refused to quash the conviction.

The state court started a retrial on 9 January this year. It ruled yesterday that there had not been enough evidence to convict Mr Simmons, its spokesman, Juergen Wrobel, said. Mr Simmons' compensation will amount to £6 a day.

Afterwards, Mr Simmons said: "At last it has been proved that I didn't kill that poor girl and I feel relieved that it's over.

"If I had left it, I would still be there as the guilty party and the actual guilty party stays free. Now her family can get justice. It has cost me £2,500 to £3,000 to bring this case back to court, but it has been worth every penny.

"This is a day like any other for me. I have waited so long for it, feelings don't come into it any more. I just want to go back home and get on with my life."