M50 murder case sent for appeal on new evidence

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The Independent Online
EDDIE BROWNING, who was convicted of the murder of Marie Wilkes on the M50 four years ago, yesterday had his case referred to the Court of Appeal by the Home Secretary.

A Home Office spokesman said new evidence had come to light. 'The conviction has been referred on the basis of videotaped material which was not disclosed to the defence before the trial,' he said.

Jim Nichol, Browning's solicitor, said he was 'very confident' and expected the appeal to be heard next year.

'The new evidence is from a police inspector, not just any Tom, Dick or Harry. He was a prosecution witness and if they considered him reliable, then we certainly do now,' he said.

The new evidence emerged in May after Greater Manchester Police was asked to investigate why a videotape, made before Browning's arrest, was retained by West Mercia Police instead of being disclosed to the Crown Prosecution Service or the defence.

The tape shows Inspector Peter Clarke, who had seen the murderer's car while driving on the motorway, undergoing hypnosis to help him recall events. Insp Clarke, of West Mercia Police, describes a different number plate to that on Browning's car.

But at the trial in 1989, the officer appeared to change his evidence by describing a number plate closer to that of Browning's vehicle.

Browning, a nightclub bouncer from Cwm-parc, south Wales, is serving life for the murder of Marie Wilkes, 22, who was seven months pregnant when she died. She was killed when her car broke down on the M50 near Bushley, Hereford and Worcester, in 1988.

After locking her two young children in the car, Mrs Wilkes walked along the hard shoulder to telephone for help. Her attacker cut her throat and drove two miles along the motorway before dumping her body.

The jury was told that on the day of the murder Browning had rowed with his wife, who was also pregnant, and had travelled to Scotland. He insisted that he went via the Severn Bridge and M4, and not along the M50. There was no other scientific or documentary evidence against him.

In May 1991, the Court of Appeal refused Browning's appeal against his conviction. The Police Complaints Authority is now investigating several aspects of the case.