Officers 'withheld evidence in M50 murder case'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
TWO POLICE officers deliberately failed to disclose to defence lawyers vital evidence in the investigation into the murder of Marie Wilkes, the pregnant motorist who was abducted and stabbed to death by the side of a motorway, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday, writes Terry Kirby.

Michael Mansfield QC, for the defence, also argued that important information on the evidence of another witness was not handed to defence lawyers whose cross-examination was therefore hindered. Mr Mansfield was beginning the appeal on behalf of Edward Browning, 41, of Cwmparc in South Wales, who is serving a 25-year sentence for the murder of Mrs Wilkes in June 1988. Her body was found on the side of the M50 in Hereford and Worcester, a short distance from where her car had broken down.

At Browning's trial, the Crown claimed the former Welsh Guardsman and nightclub doorman with a history of violence had rowed with his pregnant wife and taken revenge on Mrs Wilkes when he saw her at an emergency telephone.

Browning's first appeal was rejected in 1991. The case has been referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Home Secretary after it emerged a videotaped interview with a key witness, a police officer who claimed he saw Browning's car on the motorway, had not been handed to defence lawyers at the trial. Browning claims he was not on the motorway that day. The videotape showed the officer under hypnosis contradicting his original account, but its existence only came to light four years later.

Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice, said yesterday that the Crown conceded that the existence of the hypnosis tape ought to have been made known to the defence, but it was the court's role to decide if this was a material irregularity.

The appeal, expected to last at least five days, will continue today.