Sam Hallam released on unconditional bail as prosecution announces no opposition to murder conviction appeal

 

A young man who spent seven years in jail for murder has been freed on unconditional bail today after the prosecution announced it would not oppose the appeal against his conviction.

Sam Hallam, 24, from east London, was in the dock at the Court of Appeal to witness the dramatic scenes in which his 2005 conviction was described as a “serious miscarriage of justice”.

There were cheers and tears from his family in the public gallery as Lady Justice Hallett said the court would give its official ruling tomorrow, when his conviction is expected to be quashed, but that Hallam would be released on bail this afternoon. Mr Hallam appeared shell-shocked as he was led out of the Royal Courts of Justice by his mother amid noisy applause from a group of well-wishers.

Mr Hallam was convicted of murdering trainee chef, Essayas Kassahun, 21, who died from head injuries after being beaten by a gang of youths on a housing estate in Clerkenwell, east London in October 2004. Ethiopian-born Mr Kassahun died two days after the attack which was carried out with a screw studied baseball bat.

Mr Hallam, who always maintained that he was playing football half a mile away at the time of the murder, was sentenced to life at the Old Bailey in 2005 when he was just 18-years-old.

The Independent has been among those campaigning for Mr Hallam’s release.

* Read The Independent's 2010 story on the case here: Sam Hallam has spent six years in jail for a murder he swears he did not commit. Now, he has received the news he thought would never come - that the case is to be reopened

* Read The Independent's 2009 article on visiting Sam Hallam in prison with his mother here: Mother fights to free the Hoxton One

The first appeal against his conviction was quashed in 2007 but fresh evidence gathered by campaigners persuaded the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) to re-investigate.

The CCRC ordered Thames Valley Police to help them re-investigate the case originally handled by Scotland Yard, led by Detective Chief Inspector Mike Broster, and every witness was re-interviewed under caution.

He's the same officer who eight years and one promotion later was criticized by the coroner at the “spy in the bag” Gareth Williams inquest for not following every possible lead in his role as vetted liaison between the police investigation and MI6.

The Thames Valley investigation, which has never been published, found major failings in the way the investigation had been carried out, specifically the failure to pursue reasonable lines of enquiry and the failure of the investigating officer, Broster, to record his investigative decision making and rationale.

Mr Hallam’s barrister, Henry Blaxland QC, told the three appeal judges that a miscarriage of justice was brought about by a combination of factors - including failure by the police to properly investigate Hallam's alibi and by non-disclosure of material by the prosecution that "could have supported his case".

Summarising the grounds of challenge, he told Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Spencer: "It is our case that this appellant Sam Hallam - and I put it boldly - has been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice brought about by a combination of manifestly unreliable identification evidence, the apparent failure of his own alibi, failure by police properly to investigate his alibi and non-disclosure by the prosecution of material that could have supported his case."

Outside court his family paid tribute to Sam's courage and refusal to give up.

His sister Daisy Hallam, 16, told The Independent: “It feels like I’m dreaming. It was so horrible to think of him on his own in prison every day. I’m so relieved. Sam will find it strange at first. He never moaned about what had happened to him.”

His brother, Terry, 32, said: “He’s my baby brother. We’ve been fighting to get home free for so many years. My dad should be here to see this. I want to take Sam with his brother and sister to see his father’s grave for the first together."

Sam's father, Terry, 57, committed suicide 15 months ago, unable to cope with his son's incarceration.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
UK Border Control
i100
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn