UK & World News
Man's Conviction For 2004 Murder Is Quashed
A man who spent seven years in prison for a murder he maintained he did not commit has had his conviction quashed by judges.
Sam Hallam, now 24, was at the Court of Appeal in London to hear the announcement by Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Spencer that his conviction was "unsafe".
He was released on bail by the three judges on Wednesday after prosecutors said they were not opposing his appeal.
Mr Hallam, of Hoxton, east London, sat in the public gallery with his mother Wendy Cohen as the judges gave their reasons for their decision.
The conviction was overturned in the light of fresh evidence relating to his alibi and identification.
There was applause and shouts of "justice" as the announcement was made.
Mr Hallam was 18 when he was found guilty at the Old Bailey in October 2005 of the murder of 21-year-old trainee chef Essayas Kassahun.
Mr Kassahun died after being attacked by a group of youths on the St Luke's estate in Clerkenwell, London, in October 2004.
Mr Hallam, who lost a conviction appeal in 2007 and was serving a minimum term of 12 years before his release on bail, always denied being at the murder scene.
The prosecution case against him was based mainly on the evidence of two witnesses who said they were at the scene. There was no forensic evidence linking him to the attack.
Since his conviction, Mr Hallam's family and friends had mounted a high-profile campaign insisting he was innocent.
In a statement read outside court by Paul May, who led the campaign to free him, Mr Hallam said: "I don't want anyone else ever to suffer what I've been through since October 2004.
"The identification evidence against me was so unreliable it should have never been put to the jury.
"The Metropolitan Police should have followed up leads which would have proved my innocence of the terrible murder of Essayas Kassahun.
"They should have disclosed all the relevant evidence in their possession to my lawyers and they didn't.
"I now need time to recover with my family and friends from the nightmare I've suffered for the last seven-and-a-half years. Justice has long been denied to me but it has now finally prevailed."
Actor Ray Winstone, whose nephew Bobby Hopwood is Mr Hallam's best friend, criticised the police and demanded answers.
He said: "So why did an innocent man serve seven years? For me it is the disgraceful unprofessional action of the police involved in this case.
"Action that has caused a terrible stress within the family of the Hallams."
Mr Winstone said Mr Hallam's family had been left "broken-hearted" by the "tragic suicide of Sam's father". Terry Hallam was found hanged in October 2010.
He said: "Sam is free, but has lost seven years of his young life. The family can now hopefully rebuild their lives. But they can't bring Sam's dad back."
He added: "Someone must answer for this outrageous miscarriage of justice."
The 24-year-old's case came before the appeal judges after it was referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.
The judges were told on Wednesday that Mr Hallam was the victim of a "serious miscarriage of justice".
His lawyer, Henry Blaxland, said it had been brought about by a combination of factors, including a failure by police to properly investigate Mr Hallam's alibi and by a non-disclosure of material by the prosecution that "could have supported his case".
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what do you think?
So, is the British justice system still the best in the world? (And some people want to bring back hanging!) When the dust finally settles on this case, I can see a huge compensation payment coming this young man's way! Every so often there is a miscarriage of justice which leaves the British legal system wanting. This is exactly the reason why the reintroduction of the death penalty would be a grave mistake!
Well, I can see some of the hang 'em and flog 'em brigade have been on here today! Those that gave my comment the thumbs down must believe that a few dead innocents are a price well worth paying for having the death penalty! Just so long as they're not members of your family, eh?
It's thumbs up from me!
Well said chap. The amount of people on here that would hang someone for looking at someone wrong us ridiculous. I've mentioned before cases where some one has been found innocent at a later date, such as the woman convicted of killing here 3 children only to find it was cot death.. People would soon change their opinions if they were up on a murder charge that they maintain they didn't do.
Absolutely appalling, this man has had 7 years of his most active and enjoyable years taken away from him. I have always trusted our legal system, but now ?
Cops at their best..............& they dont want to join in the cuts, i'd make the cops who handled this case pay his compensation out of the salaries & pensions on a monthly basis.
Yes Grant, that's a really good idea!
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Those who are all for capital punishment, take note.
1st Offence Prison flogging 2nd " Lashes, naval fashion (TV film) 3rd " Electrocution, US fashion And - who knows? - mild, decent folk will again cross the UK's town centres without trepidation.
hold the bus this guy was part of the gang that someone killed so it gang related so who of the gang killed him ,again its always the same in these killings i was part of the gang but did nothing,
Erm... No.. he was saying he wasn't there, not he was but didn't do it... No evidence besides sketchy witness statement...
Where are all the "Hang em high" brigade on here now then? Bring back hanging they say - I hope the good members of the jury on this case can apologize for their action and pay him compensation from their own pockets.
Brilliant idea. That would really increase jury duty uptake.
Poor man. Hope suitable compensation is paid. But I still think people like huntly and rose west should hang. He would have been 17 when convicted and therefore ineligible for the death penalty anyway.
How can you speculate about who would or wouldn't be eligible for the death penalty when we don't have one? You're being ridiculous!
The legal age for capital punishment was always 21. My taxes have to pay for west and huntly. I would love to see your reaction if your son or daughter was murdered.
That is always the reaction of people who are losing the argument for the death penalty... What if one of your family was murdered? Well, as you may know, justice is meant to be impartial and not motivated by revenge. If someone killed one of my family, I may possibly have a strong desire to take revenge on them, but that's an emotional reaction! Justice should be unemotional. It sounds like what you're arguing for is judicial murder!
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When will the police realise that its not about getting a conviction at any cost its about convicting the right person, maybe they should start having cases reviewed by an impartial ombudsman before taking it to trial, they obviously can't be trusted to do it themselves
Thank goodness we do not have the death penalty!
The Court of Appeal simply ruled that the conviction was unsafe.
Yes John, unsafe because they can't prove he did it. That's the way justice is supposed to work in this country!
compensation the poor old tax payers will have to pay.
So if he didn't do it, who did? Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Someone somewhere is getting away with murder...