Father returns to court over Billie-Jo death

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The Independent Online

The case of Sion Jenkins, the former deputy head teacher jailed for killing his foster child, returns to the courts today as he again pleads his innocence.

The case of Sion Jenkins, the former deputy head teacher jailed for killing his foster child, returns to the courts today as he again pleads his innocence.

Six years after the churchgoer and respected pillar of the community was sentenced to life for murdering 13-year-old Billie-Jo, his lawyers believe they have compelling evidence which will exonerate him.

Jenkins, now 46, was convicted of bludgeoning his foster daughter to death with an 18-in metal tent spike as she painted a patio door at their home in Hastings, East Sussex, in February 1997.

The case will go before the Court of Appeal for the second time after the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice, ordered a fresh hearing.

The police remain adamant they got the right man and the Crown Prosecution Service will seek to defend the conviction.

The appeal relies on three planks: that two of his daughters can provide an alibi; that blood found on his jacket may have spattered as he tended Billie-Jo's body; and an allegation that a mentally ill man in the area may be linked to the killing.

The paranoid schizophrenic had been the police's first suspect but was released after witnesses said they had seen him in a park at the time. The defence believes there are now questions about the accuracy of the timings given by those witnesses.

The court is also expected to hear video-link evidence from two of Jenkins's natural daughters, Annie and Lottie, now living in Australia. The girls' evidence to police was interpreted as allowing Jenkins a few minutes' opportunity to murder Billie-Jo but the defence now believes their testimony provides him with an alibi.

And two professors are expected to argue that air trapped in the youngster's body could have been expelled as he tended her, releasing a mist of blood. The jury was told the 158 microscopic spots were consistent only with his being the attacker.