Billie-Jo's foster father appeals for compensation

Sion Jenkins, who was acquitted of murder, is seeking redress for the six years he spent in jail and for the disintegration of his family
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The Independent Online

Sion Jenkins, cleared of murdering his foster daughter Billie-Jo after spending six years in jail, has revealed that he is appealing to the Home Office for compensation.

Mr Jenkins told The Independent on Sunday he hoped to win up to half a million pounds, minus the board and lodging that is routinely deducted for having been a guest of Her Majesty. "I have just filled in the forms," he said. "I am waiting for a decision. I fulfil all the criteria."

The 50-year-old said the amount was less important than official recognition that he had been wronged. But he added: "I believe the Government should compensate me for taking away my liberty for six years, which also meant I lost the childhood of my daughters." His former wife Lois took the four girls to Tasmania after Mr Jenkins was convicted of killing Billie-Jo. The 13-year-old had been battered to death with a metal tent spike in the garden of their home in Hastings, East Sussex, in February 1997.

The following year, Mr Jenkins was sentenced to life in prison. But he was released on appeal in 2004, and his conviction was quashed. Two retrials failed when neither jury could agree a verdict. Mr Jenkins was formally acquitted of murder in February 2006, and has since been attempting to rebuild his life.

He married for a second time, to a nurse who had written to him in prison offering her support. They live in Portsmouth, close to the university where he is about to complete at MA in criminology and criminal justice.

Mr Jenkins was encouraged to sue for compensation by the £700,000 recently awarded to Colin Stagg, wrongly imprisoned for the murder of Rachel Nickell. But the rules have been changed and he cannot expect to receive as much.

He recently published a book, The Murder of Billie-Jo, naming as his own main suspect a man he saw in the hallway of his home on the day of the attack, and who he thought at the time was a police officer. There has been scepticism about the theory, but in today's exclusive interview, Mr Jenkins reveals why it took him so long to name the man as the potential murderer. And he reveals that since the publication of the book, a witness has emerged who may support his story.

Mr Jenkins also talks about the pain of separation from his daughters, now young women and about seeing them again. "It's that gut feeling when you have had children and you love them and they are suddenly wrenched from you," he said. "I want that to happen. But I don't know how to go about it."

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