Briton could return to death row after US court overrules decision

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A Briton whose death sentence was overturned earlier this year could again face the prospect of execution after the US Supreme Court ruled that a lower court's decision was flawed and ordered it to reconsider the case.

In January an appeals court in Ohio ruled that Kenny Richey, 41, who was born in Scotland, had received an unfair trial when he was charged and convicted of murder almost 20 years ago. It ordered that Richey, who has always maintained his innocence, must either be released or retried. But the Supreme Court said yesterday that the lower appeals court misinterpreted Ohio state law when it ruled in Richey's favour and ordered that it re-examine the issue. As a result, the case of Richey - who spent more than 18 years on death row - has been thrown into uncertainty. If the appeals court now rules against him, he could be returned to death row.

Amnesty International, which has supported Richey's claim of innocence, said it hoped the appeals court would look into the issue as quickly as possible.

The organisation's programme director in Scotland, Rosemary Burnett, said: "It has already taken well over 18 years for a deeply flawed capital trial to be re-examined. Many aspects of Mr Richey's case - including a poor-quality original trial and a legal process making it virtually impossible to admit fresh evidence - show exactly why the death sentence should never be imposed in the first place."

Richey, who grew up in Scotland but moved to Ohio in the early 1980s to live with his American father, was charged with the murder of two-year-old Cynthia Collins in a fire in the town of Columbus Grove in 1986,allegedly started by Richey to get back at the girl's mother, his former girlfriend.