The Birmingham Six – In 1975 Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power and Johnny Walker, were jailed for life for planting IRA bombs in two pubs in Birmingham city centre. It later emerged that none of them were responsible for the atrocities and they had been convicted on bogus forensic evidence. In 1991 all six were exonerated. In 2022 journalist (and former MP) Chris Mullin won an important legal case. He had interviewed one of the real Birmingham bombers but it was on the basis of anonymity and he refused to break that confidentiality.
The Guildford Four – In 1975 Gerard Conlon, Patrick Armstrong, Carole Richardson and Paul Hill were jailed for life for the murder of five people killed by an IRA bomb in a pub in Guildford, Surrey. In 1989 they were freed on appeal in what became the first of several big miscarriage of justice cases.
The Bridgewater Four – The murder of 13-year-old paperboy Carl Bridgewater in 1978 was a shocking crime but what followed was one of Britain’s most shameful miscarriages of justice. Carl was shot after stumbling across a burglary at Yew Tree Farm near Stourbridge in the West Midlands. Patrick Molloy, Michael Hickey, Vincent Hickey and Jimmy Robinson, were jailed for life for the murder on circumstantial evidence. Molloy died in prison but the other three were finally released in 1997 after their convictions were quashed.
Thomas Bourke – In Dec 1994 two Department of Transport inspectors, Alan Singleton and Simon Bruno, were shot dead in an office at a garage in Stockport, Greater Manchester. Eventually garage owner and mechanic Thomas Bourke was convicted of the murders and jailed for life. But his trial was distorted by an incident in HMP Strangeways when a gun was found and it was said to be intended for Bourke’s escape. In the event a huge armed presence was placed around the trial. Bourke has always insisted he is innocent. John Haase, the Liverpool drug dealer who had smuggled the gun in and then pointed the finger at Haase, was later jailed for 22 years for perverting the course of justice. http://www.justiceforthomasbourke.com/
The Rettendon Range Rover murders – In December 1995 three drug dealers – Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolph (pictured below) were shot dead in a Range Rover which was parked down a country lane near the village of Rettendon in Essex. The trio had been connected to the supply of the ecstasy at a Basildon nightclub which led to the high profile death of Leah Betts. Two men, Jack Whomes and Mick Steele, were later convicted of the murders on the word of supergrass Darren Nicholls but Whomes and Steele have always denied being involved. In 2020 it was reported that a new lead had emerged which could clear Whomes and Steele. It was based on a leaked Met Police corruption report from 2002 called Operation Tiberius, which details that a criminal gang boss was recorded by the force less than three weeks before the murders offering to a retired Met detective to “take out” those responsible for supplying the drugs that killed Leah Betts.The existence of the recording was not disclosed to the jury during the trial. A source close to Whomes’ legal team said: “Everyone is confident that Jack Whomes will be released from prison. “He will then continue the fight to clear his name.”
Derek Bentley – In 1953 Derek Bentley, 19, was hanged for the murder of PC Sidney Miles on the roof of a warehouse in Croydon. Bentley had not fired the fatal shot but was convicted because he reportedly told his accomplice Christopher Craig to ‘let him have it’. Craig served 10 years in prison before being released. Bentley’s conviction was posthumously quashed in 1998.
Ruth Ellis – There is no doubt Ellis had shot her boyfriend, David Blakely, and it was for that crime that she became the last woman hanged in Britain in 1955. But a long campaign followed by her relatives and supporters who said she suffered from “battered woman’s syndrome” and was of unsound mind after just having a miscarriage. But her conviction has never been overturned.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter – On June 17, 1966, at approximately 2:30 a.m., two males entered the Lafayette Bar and Grill at East 18th Street at Lafayette Street in Paterson, New Jeresy and started shooting. The bartender, James Oliver, and a male customer, Fred Nauyoks, were killed instantly. A severely wounded female customer, Hazel Tanis, died almost a month later, having been shot in the throat, stomach, intestine, spleen and left lung and having her arm shattered by a shotgun. A third customer, Willie Marins, survived the attack, despite a gunshot wound to the head that cost him the sight in one eye. Three white people in New Jersey in 1966. He was jailed for life. –The witnesses recanted their statements in 1974, and Carter was briefly freed in 1976 after the guilty verdicts were overturned. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/27097854
Adnan Musud Syed was jailed for life for the murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee, an 18 year old student in Baltimore. She was last seen at 3pm on 13 Jan, 1999. Her corpse was found on Feb 9 in Leakin Park. Adnan’s alleged miscarriage of justice was taken up in 2014 and made it into the highly popular Serial podcast. Adnan remains in jail. The programme suggested Hae may have been killed by Ronald Lee Moore, who is linked by DNA to the murder of Annelise Hyang Suk Lee, 27, in Dec 1999. Moore was released from prison 10 days before Hae died. He killed himself in 2012. http://serialpodcast.org/season-one/1/the-alibi
In February 1979 Alan Livesey, 14, was tortured and stabbed to death at his home in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire. His mother Margaret Livesey, 43, was jailed for life for murder after she confessed to the crime. She recanted the confession a few days later. She was released from prison in 1989 and died of throat cancer in 2000, still maintaining her innocence. The case was featured by BBC’s Rough Justice programme in 1982, highlighting numerous flaws in the prosecution case.
The West Memphis Three – on 5 May 1993 Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, all aged eight, went missing in West Memphis, Arkansas. Their bodies were later found, hog-tied, sexually mutilated and drowned in a pond. Damien Echols was sentenced to death, Jessie Misskelley Jr and Jason Baldwin were sentenced to life in prison. During the trial, the prosecution asserted that the children were killed as part of a Satanic ritual. Their supporters say they were picked on because they liked heavy metal music. A number of documentaries have been based on the case, and celebrities and musicians have held fund raisers in the belief that they are innocent. In 2011 all three were released after an Alford plea deal, whereby they protest their innocence but accept there is enough evidence to convict them. They were freed based on time served. An alternative suspect was a black man nicknamed Mr Bojangles who was seen in the area at the time.
Justin Wolfe – It is undisputed that on March 15, 2001, Owen Barber – a low-grade marijuana (shwag) dealer shot Danny Petrole – a high grade marijuana dealer – to death in Fairfax, Virginia. In exchange for immunity from the death penalty, Barber agreed to testify that Justin Wolfe hired him to kill Petrole. Barber was sentenced to 38 years while Wolfe, who also dealt marijuana, is on Death Row. http://www.justinwolfe.org/
The Chiong sisters case – On July 16, 1997, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were kidnapped, raped, and murdered on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, a 19 year old man who had a Spanish father, was sentenced to death along with six Filipinos on February 3, 2004. Capital punishment was later abolished. Larranaga was sent to Spain in 2009 to serve out the remainder of his sentence. The main prosecution witness was David Valiente Rusia. Larranaga has an alibi – he was at college in Manila at the time of the killings. The Chiong sisters’ father is believed to have been involved in drug dealing and it is widely believed the killings were actually meant to teach him a lesson. The miscarriage of justice is explained in the film Give Up Tomorrow http://www.pacodocu.com/
Ronnie Bridgeman, 17, his brother Wiley, 20, and friend Ricky Jackson, 19, were convicted of murder and jailed for life for murder on May 19, 1975 of Harry Franks, a local businessman, in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2013 the main prosecution witness Eddie Vernon, who was 13 at the time of the murder, broke down and admitted that he had lied under duress from the police. In 2014 Bridgeman – who had changed his name to Kwame Ajamu – and the others were freed. Prosecutor Tim McGinty said what happened to the men was a “terrible injustice”.’
Omar Benguit, 31, was jailed for life (minimum of 20 years) for the murder on July 12, 2002 of Jong-Ok Shin, 26, a Korean student stabbed as she walked home in Bournemouth. He has always denied killing her and in recent years evidence has emerged pointing towards convicted killer Danilo Restivo. Benguit’s case was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the CCRC in Dec 2012:
Iwao Hakamada was convicted in 1966 of murdering his boss at a soybean processing company, along with the boss’s wife and two children. He was sentenced to death and spent 48 years on Death Row. In March 2014 he was granted a new trial after DNA tests showed it was not his DNA at the crime scene.
Simon Hall – a 25-year-old office worker from Ipswich, was jailed for life in Feb 2003 for the murder of Joan Albert, 79, at home in Capel St Mary, near Ipswich. She was stabbed. He was convicted of forensic fibre evidence but has always protested his innocence. That was until August 2013 when he suddenly made a confession to the prison authorities. He said he was “seriously violent” and there had been “sexual aspects” to the murder. In 2014 he hanged himself in HMP Wayland, Norfolk.
Kevin Lane – On 2 Oct 1994 Robert Magill, 44, Ruislip car dealer and criminal – shot dead near his home in Valley Road, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, while walking his dogs in woods in Chorleywood. Kevin Lane, 26, from Potton, Cambridgeshire, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in March 1996. Roger Vincent, 22, from Northolt, and David Smith, 23, were acquitted. The trial heard Lane was paid £100,000 to kill Magill. But Lane has always protested his innocence and says Corrupt officer, Detective Inspector Chris Spackman was involved in the case.In August 2005 Vincentand Smithwere convicted of murdering Dave King at a gym in Hoddesdon and jailed for life.http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/series/justice-on-trial+kevin-lane
Eddie Browning – In June 1988 Marie Wilks, 22, pregnant mother, stabbed on the hard shoulder of the M50 motorway near Bushley in Herefordshire after her car broke down. Eddie Browning, 40, a bouncer from South Wales, was jailed for life in 1989 but freed on appeal in 1994. Unsolved.
Cardiff Newsagent Three – In Oct 1987 Philip Saunders, newsagent, was killed on his way home from work at a kiosk in Cardiff bus station. Michael O’Brien, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall –the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three – were jailed for life in 1988. They were freed on appeal in 1999. They had been convicted on the basis of bogus confessions made by Hall.
Jack Royal was shot dead on March 19, 1990 as he watched television with his wife Sonia at their home, 44 Laburnum Grove, Sunniside, Newcastle. He had gone to the door at 11.35pm when someone knocked at it and was shot through a window. Royal had been acquitted of murdering David Thompson. In 1991 Walter Hepple was acquitted of Royal’s murder. In May 1993 Andrew Adams was jailed for life for the murder. The trial heard Thompson’s sister Catherine wanted revenge and hired her boyfriend Andrew Adams to carry out the murder. Thompson was acquitted, as was John Hands. Adams was finally freed by the Court of Appeal in 2007. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2007/1.html
A former prosecutor in the US state of Texas has been sentenced to jail for his role in the wrongful conviction of an innocent man 26 years ago. Ken Anderson agreed a plea deal that will see him serve 10 days in jail, perform 500 hours of community service and be disbarred. He was charged with tampering with evidence in the 1987 murder trial of Michael Morton. Morton spent 25 years in prison only to be exonerated by DNA evidence. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24876145
In Oct 1996 Geraldine Montgomery, 68, was raped and murdered in Davison, Michigan. Her body was found in the trunk of her car in her garage. Jamie Peterson was convicted of the crimes in 1998 and sentenced to life without parole. He was released, aged 39, in September 2014 after DNA tests showed he didn’t attack Montgomery. Jason Ryan, by then 37, went on trial in 2015. His lawyers say his DNA was not found at the crime scene and blamed an inept and shoddy investigation. But he was convicted of murder. https://www.law.umich.edu/newsandinfo/features/Pages/jamieleepetersonexonerated090514.aspx
Murder of Aileen Dudhill, 80, and her sister Elsie Gregory, 73 – beaten with a hammer and suffocated at their home in Rotherham on 25 June 1995. Michael Pluck, 37, and Lawrence Bierton, 36, gardeners from Worksop, were jailed for life at Sheffield CC in May 96. Furniture was piled on top of the bodies and set on fire. The trial heard the pair grossly overcharged pensioners and then killed the sisters during a botched burglary. Pluck maintains his innocence, saying his lawyer wrongly advised him not to give evidence. His appeal was rejected in 2002.
In 1979, Brenda Anderson testified that a young man with whom she had gone to high school shot her elderly neighbour Jack Sasson to death. Thirty-four years later, Anderson’s sister Sharon took the stand and said the account, which helped send the young man to prison, was a lie. In Nov 2013 Los Angeles County Superior Court threw out the conviction of Kash Delano Register, who maintained his innocence during more than three decades as inmate No. C11693.
Malcolm Kennedy – On Christmas Eve 1990 Patrick Quinn, 56, Irish labourer from Hammersmith, was killed in a cell in Hammersmith police station after being locked up with another drunk, businessman Malcolm Kennedy, 44. Kennedy was jailed for life in Sep 1991 but continued to protest his innocence. He claimed Quinn was killed by police officers. He obtained a retrial and was jailed for manslaughter and sentenced to 9 years. He was freed in 1996.
In 1981 Mary Virginia Jones was jailed for murder, kidnapping and robbery in Los Angeles. She was freed in March 2014, aged 74, thanks to a group of law students. Her conviction was overturned. She was accused of acting as an accomplice in the killing of a drug dealer by her companion, Mose Willis. But law students from the University of Southern California argued that Willis held a gun to her head to force her to lead the dealer into an alley where he was shot dead. Willis was arrested and sentenced to death. He died on death row while awaiting execution. A week before the killing Willis shot at her daughter Denitra and threatened to kill both if they went to the police.
In July 2001 Daniel Dale, 18, was shot dead in Harpurhey, Manchester. Dwaine George was jailed for life. His conviction was quashed in 2014. http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/murderer-fails-to-win-freedom-1109988
George Stinney was 14 when he was convicted of murder in 1944 and executed. His conviction was questioned in 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2014/mar/22/george-stinney-execution-verdict-innocent
In October 1977 Carol Wilkinson, 20, a bakery worker, was killed as she walked to work in the Ravenscliffe area of Bradford. Anthony Steel, a council-employed gardener thought to have worked nearby, was arrested 18 months later over her murder. He was jailed for life and spent 20 years in jail protesting his innocence. Mr Steel’s confession was later found to contain many inaccuracies and evidence linking him to the crime scene was considered unreliable. Psychological evidence obtained while he was in prison showed that he was of low IQ, had learning difficulties and was easily led and suggestible. The Court of Appeal eventually quashed his conviction as “unsafe” in 2003. He was released but remained in poor health and died, of a heart attack, aged 52, in 2007. It has since been suggested the real killer may have been Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.
On June 7, 1972 – Derby Day – the body of Judith Roberts, 14, was discovered under a pile of hedge clippings and plastic fertiliser bags in a field near Tamworth, Staffordshire. She had left her home in Wiggington to ride her green bicycle along Comberford Lane, Tamworth. She was dragged from her cycle, battered to death and her body partly concealed. At the height of the inquiry, more than 200 detectives were looking for the murderer of the shy teenager. They took more than 15,400 sets of fingerprints and more than 11,000 statements. Nearly 11,000 house-to-house inquiries were made and road checks were set up. A total of 4,200 separate pieces of information were acted on. Four months later Andrew Evans, a depressed asthmatic young soldier, confessed to her killing. He confessed after being disturbed by a dream in which he believed he saw the face of the murdered girl and said he wanted to see a photograph of her. He was jailed for life for murder in 1973. In 1994 the campaigning organisation Justice took up his cause. He was eventually freed by the Court of Appeal three years later. Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, declared his conviction “unsafe and unsatisfactory” based on new psychiatric evidence. http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/from-the-archives-wrong-man-jailed-for-murder-160953
On Dec 30, 2009 Anthony Johnson, 47, was kicked to death on a night out in Southport, Merseyside. James Thompson, 25, from Formby, was jailed for life for murder. Steven Keegan, 26,, was cleared of both murder and manslaughter. Paul O’Brien, 27, was found not guilty of assaulting Mr Johnson’s friend Nicholas Halsall. Thompson’s family claim he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. They say he was on the way home at 4am when he went to say hello to two young girls but one of them attacked him and then encouraged three men to attack James. They claim Johnson was high on alcohol and cocaine. None of James’s assailants were cautioned or charged by the Police or the CPS despite CCTV evidence showing several attacks on James. Yet one of the other three assailants admitted to being armed with a weapon, a metal bar. The off-duty police officer became the ‘pivotal’ witness for the prosecution. However, this officer declined an immediate statement because he claimed, “he could not remember where he had been and had been drinking.” James had been attacked, forced to defend himself and because of his injuries, was concussed, dazed and unable to fully assess what was going on about him.
In June 1996 Devon Routier, six, and his brother Damon, five, were stabbed as they slept on the ground floor of the family’s home in Rowlett, a suburb east of Dallas. Devon was stabbed twice in the chest with such force that the knife almost went all the way through his body; Damon was stabbed half a dozen or more times in the back. Their mother Darlie Routier, who was 26, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. In Dec 2020 she was still on Death Row and protesting her innocence. Darlee, who was also sleeping downstairs, had two slice wounds in her right forearm and one in her left shoulder, and her throat had been cut. Doctors said she survived only because the knife stopped two millimetres short of her carotid artery. She claimed she was awakened by Damon’s cries of “Mommy! Mommy!” Darlie’s husband, Darin, who was sleeping upstairs with their infant son, Drake, came downstairs after hearing his wife’s screams and began administering CPR to Devon. By then, she said, the assailant had disappeared.
In August 1986 Christine Morton was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Williamson County, near Austin, Texas. The night before she celebrated her husband Michael’s birthday at a restaurant with their three-year-old son, who had a congenital heart defect. The next morning, Morton left a note on the bathroom vanity expressing disappointment that his wife had not had sex with him but ended the note with the words “I love you.” He then left for work at about 5.30am. Later that morning her body was found in their bed. She had been bludgeoned to death with what appeared to have been a weapon made of wood. The sheets upon which she lay were stained with what was later determined to be semen. On 17 February 1987, Michael Morton was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The Innocence Project took up the case and demands DNA tests on the semen. The original prosecutor, Ken Anderson, refused but in 2011 DNA tests finally proved the killer was Mark Norwood, who had been convicted for the January 1988 murder of Debra Masters Baker in her Austin home. After spending nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife, Michael Morton was released on October 4, 2011, and officially exonerated in December 2011. After his release, Michael Morton moved in with his parents in Liberty City, Texas, and later started renting a house in nearby Kilgore. In March 2013, he married Cynthia May Chessman, a member of the church he has attended since his exoneration. In 2013 Anderson was convicted of contempt to court (for concealing evidence) and was jailed for 10 days.
Darren Waterhouse – On Apr 6, 2004 Craig “Burnt Out Boy” Barker, 19, was shot dead in a car in Robson Street, Everton, Liverpool. Barker was a friend of notorious Liverpool gangster Tony Richardson, whose girlfriend was soap actress Jennifer Ellison. Tony’s brother Mark, 21, survived being shot. Richardson and Darren Gee, 35, were also injured. Darren Waterhouse, a former soldier, was convicted in 2005 for the Murder of Craig Barker and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Darren has always professed his innocence to the crime and still does to this day.
Delphon Nicholas – In 2008 Delphon Nicholas was jailed for life for the murder of Andrew Wanogho, who was shot in a street in Brockley, South East London, in 2006. Nicholas was in jail at the time of the murder but the prosecution claimed he organised the killing using a smuggled mobile phone. Trevor Dennie, the gunman, was jailed for life but the third accused, Sereata Barrie, was acquitted. Nicholas insists a crucial phone call did not connect and maintains his innocence.