Foster father murder case is sent to Appeal Court

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The Independent Online

A former deputy headteacher convicted of murdering his foster daughter had his case referred to the Court of Appeal yesterday to consider evidence not used in the original trial.

A former deputy headteacher convicted of murdering his foster daughter had his case referred to the Court of Appeal yesterday to consider evidence not used in the original trial.

Sion Jenkins was jailed for life for bludgeoning to death 13-year-old Billie-Jo Jenkins with an 18-inch metal tent spike as she painted a patio door at their home in Hastings, East Sussex, in 1997.

The jury at Lewes Crown Court in 1998 was told that, after the killing, Jenkins went shopping with two of his four other daughters and later pretended to discover Billie-Jo's body when he returned. There were more than 150 microscopic spots of the teenager's blood discovered on Jenkins' jacket, which were consistent only with his having been the attacker, the court had heard.

At the Court of Appeal in December 1999, Jenkins' barrister Anthony Scrivener QC claimed the teacher's jacket had been contaminated with the blood as he attended the dying girl because a bubble of blood burst in her nose and it splashed him.

Jenkins lost the appeal and, the following month, was refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords. But in April 2001, a file containing new evidence was handed to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). Yesterday, Jenkins' lawyer said the commission had decided there was a "real possibility" Jenkins' conviction would be quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Neil O'May, a partner at the London solicitors Bindman and Partners, said the appeal related to why Jenkins' two daughters were not called at the trial to give evidence. He said: "It is pretty important to hear from the two people who were with Sion Jenkins throughout the afternoon when Billie-Jo died."

Jenkins' legal team will also pursue "all avenues", he said, including the suggestion by Channel 4's Trial and Error programme, which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice, that a mentally ill man seen near the family home in Hastings, could have been the killer. The hearing will also consider the evidence of the pathologist.

Mr O'May said: "The CCRC has thoroughly investigated the case and believes there is a real possibility that Sion Jenkins' conviction will be quashed. We have investigated the circumstances of the conviction very thoroughly and we are confident the Court of Appeal will mark this case as a miscarriage of justice."

The CCRC is an independent body with the power to reopen cases if it suspects a miscarriage of justice, and refer them to the Court of Appeal.