Retrial for prisoner in police cell death case

Click to follow
A MAN convicted for the murder of his cellmate in a London police station and who claims the police framed him, was granted a retrial by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, sitting with Mr Justice Judge and Mr Justice Hidden, quashed the conviction and ordered new charges to be brought within two months. Lord Taylor said they could not be sure the original trial jury would have reached the same verdict if they had heard the new evidence. 'Accordingly, we cannot say the verdict is safe and satisfactory.'

Malcolm Kennedy, 45, of Stoke Newington, north-east London, was jailed for life in September 1991 for allegedly battering Patrick Quinn to death after both men had been detained for drunkenness. Mr Quinn's injuries were consistent with someone jumping on his chest, crushing his heart.

Lord Taylor said evidence from Samantha Wilson and Sara Dennis, new witnesses who were traced after the trial, contradicted police evidence. PC Paul Giles, of Hammersmith police station, said he arrested Mr Quinn and took him to the station between 11pm and midnight on 23 December 1990. But Ms Wilson said PC Giles arrested her boyfriend for assault at 11.50pm, an hour earlier than police officers claimed at the trial. Police documents found after the trial supported her evidence.

The whole of the evidence, including the new material, merited consideration by a fresh jury, Lord Taylor said. 'In our judgment, onerous though it will be for all concerned, this is a case in which the interests of justice require that we order a retrial.'

Lord Taylor described Mr Quinn's murder as a 'motiveless crime'. The prosecution alleged that Kennedy, in his drunken stupor, had subjected Mr Quinn to a manic and unprovoked attack. Blood was spattered on Kennedy's shoes, socks and trousers. His bootprints were on Mr Quinn's clothing, his scarf was draped across the body and his watch lay by the dead man's head.

At his trial, Kennedy alleged he was woken by a police officer beating Mr Quinn. When he tried to intervene, the officer punched him unconscious. Kennedy maintains that officers then planted evidence to incriminate him. 'It was contended that a cover-up operation had been organised by the police to suppress the truth and to use Kennedy as a scapegoat,' Lord Taylor said.

He added that the judgment should be seen as impartial. 'We must not be taken, by ordering a retrial, to have reached any conclusion as to the suggested malpractice of the police. Equally . . . it must not be taken as indicating a view adverse to the appellant.'