Man accused of murdering woman is first to face double jeopardy law

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald QC, said yesterday that Billy Dunlop, 42, who has twice stood trial for the murder of a 22-year-old woman in 1989, is now likely to have his case referred to the Court of Appeal to be considered for a third time.

At each previous trial, in which Mr Dunlop was accused of murdering Julie Hogg in Billingham, Teesside, concluded with the jury failing to reach a verdict.

The DPP said that Mr Dunlop's case could be sent to the Court of Appeal, making it the first case since the reform of the double jeopardy law, which for 800 years stopped a suspect being tried twice for the same crime.

Mr Macdonald's decision means the Crown Prosecution Service can apply to the Court of Appeal for Mr Dunlop to be retried for murder. He said: "It falls to me to authorise a police investigation and to give my written consent for a case to be referred to the Court of Appeal if certain conditions are met, including that there is new and compelling evidence and that it is in the public interest.'' The reform of the double jeopardy rule, which stipulated that someone who has been acquitted couldnot be tried again for the same offence, came into force in April this year under the 2003 Criminal Justice Act.

Mr Dunlop was formally acquitted at Newcastle Crown Court in 1991 when a jury failed to reach a verdict for the second time.

Ms Hogg was a pizza delivery girl whose disappearance in November 1989 was initially treated as a missing person inquiry. Her mother, Ann Ming, discovered Ms Hogg's body behind a bath panel in her daughter's home 80 days later.

Mrs Ming has campaigned for 14 years for the double jeopardy rule to be revoked, and the Law Commission reviewed it in 2001. It led to MPs agreeing to the new legislation, which allows the CPS to review serious cases if new evidence comes to light.

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