A man who spent 17 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of a sexual assault has been freed by the court of appeal after DNA evidence pointed to another man as the perpetrator.
Victor Nealon, a former postman, has always maintained his innocence. He was convicted in January 1997 of the attempted rape of a woman leaving a nightclub.
Three appeal court judges quashed the conviction after a hearing lasting around an hour at the Royal Courts of Justice. Lord Justice Fulford said the court would set out its full judgment at a later date.
The case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC)
Peter Willcock QC, for Nealon, argued that had the DNA evidence been provided at the original trial it would have been “explosive”.
Nealon had twice before appealed to the CCRC, but the CCRC had resisted calls to conduct DNA tests on evidence.
Mark Newby, of Jordan’s Solicitors in Doncaster, who took up the case in 2008, commissioned independent experts and proved that the samples, from an unidentified male, could not have been Nealon’s.
“It’s a serious miscarriage of justice, and it’s been hard fought. But it also demonstrates the importance of appeal lawyers being able to access evidence from old cases, as there clearly could be other wrongful convictions out there in cases when exhibits are withheld.”
Source: The Guardian, 13th December 2013