Second ordeal for Sam Hallam months after jail release

Police criticised as victim of miscarriage of justice is forced to clear his name again

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The Independent Online

A man who spent seven years in jail for a murder he did not commit was allegedly injured by police and charged with assault just months after his release, it can be disclosed.

Sam Hallam, one of Britain’s youngest and most well-known victims of a miscarriage of justice, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting three police constables in December last year, just seven months after his murder conviction was overturned.

The Independent can reveal that he was acquitted of all the charges against him last week after a judge reportedly criticised the way a Metropolitan Police officer handled the case.

Mr Hallam’s lawyer, Matt Foot, from Birnberg Peirce & Partners, accused the police of “extraordinary” behaviour, adding that his client was “very upset at having to go through this” again.

Mr Hallam, 25, from Stoke Newington, was just 17 when he was arrested for the murder of trainee chef Essayas Kassahun, 21, in Clerkenwell, central London, in 2004. He spent seven years in prison for a murder he always denied. His conviction was quashed last year after judges were told he was the victim of a “serious miscarriage of justice”. Crucial evidence was left undiscovered on his mobile phone for years.

But Mr Hallam was arrested again on 8 December last year, after officers stopped the car that he was travelling in with his brother, Terence, 33, Jaki Bell, 26, and Robert Fitzgerald, 27. Mr Hallam was charged with three offences of assaulting a constable.

During last week’s trial, the judge reportedly criticised the investigating officer for failing to produce notes about her attempts to locate CCTV footage or for acquiring potential evidence from Mr Hallam’s phone.

Mr Foot told The Independent: “It is somewhat extraordinary that in the same year Sam Hallam was released from prison for a murder he had nothing to do with, following in large part the police’s failure to carry out cursory inquiries on CCTV and his mobile phone, he has been exonerated on further charges following police’s apparent inability to make proper inquiries on CCTV.”

Mr Foot said that, in court, officers said they were assaulted by the group, but they could not attribute violent actions to any one individual. The Hallam brothers and Bell all denied assault and were cleared of 11 charges on Friday. Mr Fitzgerald was convicted of assaulting two constables.

According to a court report in the Hackney Citizen newspaper, Mr Hallam said he tried to use his mobile to film an officer “roughing up” his friend, when he was hit with a “glancing blow” on his back from a police truncheon. He said he was tripped up by a plain-clothed police officer.

A Met spokesperson said: “Having been made aware of criticism of the police investigation, a senior officer from Hackney Borough will ensure that this matter is looked into.”