Woman loses grandmother murder conviction appeal

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The Independent Online

A woman who confessed to the murder of her grandmother in a conversation secretly tape-recorded by her sister lost her appeal against conviction today.

Julie Kenyon, who was jailed for life in 2003 at the age of 46, had urged three judges at the Court of Appeal in London to rule her conviction "unsafe".

But Lord Justice Hughes, Mr Justice MacKay and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones dismissed her appeal today. She was not present in court.

Her case had been referred to the court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

At the hearing of the challenge in February, Kenyon's QC, Paul Dunkels, told the judges that her appeal was founded on fresh expert psychological and psychiatric evidence relating to three confessions she made over the death of 89-year-old widow Irene Waters at the home they shared in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in 1996.

Mr Dunkels submitted that the evidence established that at the time she made those confessions she was suffering from a "personality disorder" and that the confessions should now be regarded as "unreliable".

Kenyon, of Dodge Holme Court, Mixenden, Halifax, was convicted by a majority verdict at Newcastle Crown Court of murder.

In a tape recording made by her sister Carol in a pub, Kenyon confessed to smothering her grandmother with a pillow because her grandmother had asked her to help her to die.

Kenyon's defence at trial was that she made false confessions because she had felt under pressure from family members to confess and told them what they wanted hear.

An inquest held soon after Mrs Waters' death concluded that she died of natural causes.

Mr Dunkels had submitted to the court: "Without those confessions there would have been no evidence of an unlawful killing at all."

Kenyon's appeal was contested by the Crown.

In her conviction challenge she had sought leave to adduce before the appeal court the evidence of two experts relating to her psychological profile and, in particular, the likelihood of her making false confessions.

Lord Justice Hughes, giving the ruling of the court, said: "We are quite satisfied that the new expert evidence, whilst it adds detail and some fresh assessment to the expert evidence available at trial, would in the end not assist the defendant in contesting this charge and that it would not have been in her best interests to adduce it, nor would it be now.

"In those circumstances it is not either necessary or expedient in the interests of justice to admit the evidence."

The judge added: "There has to be fresh evidence which is strong enough to justify the conclusion that it is necessary or expedient in the interests of justice to override the interests which justice has in a single trial.

"In this case it is abundantly clear that the strand of evidence was not adduced because it would be likely to do the defendant more harm than good, and still would.

"The evidence now proffered would not be likely to afford grounds for quashing the conviction. Accordingly, we decline to admit it and the appeal must be dismissed."