Drug convictions overturned after 'planting' claims: Four jailed people win appeals as court rules evidence of suspended police at centre of corruption inquiry was unreliable

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FOUR PEOPLE who claimed that police planted drugs on them had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal yesterday when the Crown said the evidence of officers at the centre of a marathon corruption inquiry was no longer reliable.

Ida Oderinde, Dennis Tulloch, Everard Brown and Rennie Kingsley were convicted in separate trials at Snaresbrook Crown Court as a result of evidence given by officers from Stoke Newington police station in London, now under investigation in an inquiry codenamed Operation Jackpot.

Their convictions, in 1991, were all quashed as unsafe and unsatisfactory after Kenneth Aylett, counsel for the Crown, told Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Henry and Mr Justice Blofeld: 'There are police officers upon whom suspicion has fallen as to their reliability in any evidence they may give in court.'

Mr Aylett said since the Operation Jackpot inquiries began in late 1991, three officers had been suspended and another - Detective Constable Roy Lewandowski, the only one named in court - was serving 18 months for theft from the home of a dead man.

The officers were involved in all the prosecutions in different combinations, he said, but in all cases, the defendants had alleged at the time that police had planted evidence. In the Brown, Tulloch and Kingsley cases, there was no other evidence apart from that given by the discredited officers.

In the Oderinde case, there was some other evidence which was untainted, but in all of them the Crown would not seek to sustain the convictions. Patrick O'Connor, Mrs Oderinde's counsel, pointed out that the 'untainted' evidence came from officers associated with those at the centre of the inquiry.

Mr Kingsley, 46, who has already served his four-month sentence for possessing cocaine and LSD said to have been discovered during a raid on his home, said afterwards: 'I am very bitter, angry and disappointed that the system failed us. I just wish all this had taken place earlier. It is a shame that my initial complaint about being fitted up was not looked into.'

The remaining three had been released on bail pending the appeal. Mrs Oderinde, 33, who was serving a four-year sentence for intention to supply heroin, allegedly also discovered in her home, said she was considering a civil action against the police. 'Many things have been covered up, but I am pleased that justice has now been done and I am out of prison and back with my children.'

Mr Tulloch, 45, was jailed for four years after officers claimed to have found cocaine on him when he was approached outside a betting shop. Mr Brown, 36, was sentenced to six years for possessing crack with intent to supply after police alleged he made admissions when stopped in the street.

A fifth appeal, by Eula Carter, also on bail from a four-year sentence for intention to supply crack, was adjourned after the Crown said the conviction was being upheld. Although suspended officers had given evidence, it was corroborated by untainted evidence, the court heard.

Two weeks ago, the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of two men for manslaughter after hearing that Lewandowski had allegedly planted evidence on them which had been stolen from the house of the dead man.

A large number of officers at Stoke Newington have been interviewed by the inquiry team and files are under consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service.

(Photograph omitted)