'Exhausted' Jenkins says his name will be cleared

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The Independent Online

Sion Jenkins, the former deputy headteacher jailed for life for beating his foster daughter to death, proclaimed his innocence yesterday after his release on bail ahead of a retrial.

Sion Jenkins, the former deputy headteacher jailed for life for beating his foster daughter to death, proclaimed his innocence yesterday after his release on bail ahead of a retrial.

Mr Jenkins said that he was drained but would not be hiding away. "The last few years have been very tiring and emotionally exhausting. It is good to be home," he said outside his father's house in Aberystwyth, west Wales, where he must stay under strict bail conditions.

Mr Jenkins, 46, was released from Belmarsh prison, south-east London yesterday after a £300,000 surety was arranged by his family. "Just now I need to find my bearings," he said. "The last month has been an impossible strain and I need to rest and assess my priorities and prepare for the retrial."

He was jailed six years ago for battering 13-year-old Billie-Jo to death with an 18-inch metal tent spike as she was painting a patio door at their home in Hastings, East Sussex, on 15 February 1997.

But the appeal court ruled last month that new forensic evidence made Mr Jenkins' original conviction unsafe and he was granted bail at the Old Bailey on Monday.

Mr Jenkins said that he felt "optimistic and confident" that his name would be cleared at the retrial, set for London later this year.

He praised "the people of Aberystwyth" for supporting him and his parents through the "past few months".

"I feel at home here. I will not be staying indoors in hiding over the next few months. I intend to get out and about in the community and worship regularly at St Michael's Church in the town," he said. "I am an innocent man and I will prove that at my retrial."

Mr Jenkins' decision to speak to the media came despite a request from the judge who bailed him, Justice Mrs Rafferty, that he not hold a press conference. Mrs Rafferty also wanted Mr Jenkins to shut his website "Justice for Sion Jenkins", but it was still running last night. A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said the two restrictions had been "recommendations" made in chambers by the judge and were not conditions, so it did not appear Mr Jenkins had breached bail.