Police evidence 'undermined' in cell death case

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The Independent Online
THE credibility of police officers whose evidence was crucial in convicting a man of murder has been undermined by the discovery of new witnesses and documents, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday.

These disclosures suggested that officers had been covering up for their colleagues when they gave evidence at the trial of Malcolm Kennedy in September 1991, the court was told.

Kennedy, 45, had been found guilty of murdering a cell-mate, Patrick Quinn, in Hammersmith police station, west London, after both men had been arrested for drunkenness. At his Old Bailey trial, Kennedy maintained that it was the police, not him, who battered Mr Quinn to death.

One of the officers on duty on that night was PC Paul Giles, who said he had arrested Mr Quinn and brought him to the police station between 11pm and midnight on 23 December 1990, the court was told.

But an investigation by the television programme World in Action had found two witnesses who said that PC Giles had responded to their call for help at this time. Their evidence was supported by documents that had not been available at the time of the trial, Kennedy's counsel, Michael Mansfield QC, told the court. One of these, a crime report, said that PC Giles had been called out at about 11.30pm.

'If Giles was somewhere else, then he is really, we say, covering for officers who arrested this man (Mr Quinn),' Mr Mansfield said. 'I am not in a position to say that this is conclusive evidence in the sense that it demonstrates his (Kennedy's) innocence, but what it does do is fundamentally undermine the credibility of one and possibility other witnesses.'

In such circumstances, the case should be retried, Mr Mansfield said.

PC Giles had been interviewed by Thames Valley police after the Police Complaints Authority started an investigation into the case. But he refused to answer questions about the new evidence, Mr Mansfield said.

The court also heard from Samantha Wood, one of the people who had been assisted by PC Giles on the night Mr Quinn died. She said she was sure that the officer had attended her house in Hammersmith at about 11.30pm.

At the police station, she had heard 'ranting and raving' from another cell and remembered the officer charged with taking her statement commenting that there was 'trouble'.

He left for about 20 minutes and came back a 'totally different person'. 'Before he left, he was very talkative, understanding and generally a very nice guy.'

When he returned, however, he was agitated and in a hurry to complete the statement, Miss Wood said.

The case continues today.