This is the story of a man currently serving a 30 year sentence for murder, who was convicted largely on the basis of an inaccurate police transcript of an indistinct covert recording. STOP PRESS: Very sadly, the gentleman in question has recently died in prison, making this case study all the more poignant.
Here’s a section of the recording. Perhaps you can hear the part the detective mistakenly interpreted as a confession to murder? Can you hear what was really said?
Please be aware this is 1 minute extracted from within a 38-minute recording of similar quality. The jury had to listen to the entire 38 minutes but we thought 1 minute might be about enough for you.
I have researched this audio, and this case, for more than four years now. This work has demonstrated that:
- the police transcript of this audio is unreliable and misleading throughout;
- in particular the words interpreted by the prosecution as a confession were not spoken;
- despite this, the transcript can confidently be expected to have influenced the jury to interpret the audio in line with the detective’s transcript;
- all of which means he was convicted on faulty evidence and might well be serving 30 years for a crime he did not commit.
Would you want the same to happen to you, or a member of your family, as happened to him?
The reason for this case study is partly to help this man to obtain justice, but also largely because this is just one example of the bad effects of legal principles invoked in our courts every week. I hope the case study will contribute to review of those principles, which create actual and potential injustice in many cases besides this one.
Prefer to get straight to the legal issues?
Here’s a 20-minute talk summarising the legal issues. Just be warned: it does have spoilers. If you prefer a step-by-step narrative, keep going with the case study!
Ready to get into it?
We’ll start with the story of the horrifying family murder itself, then get on to the troubling, though strangely fascinating, story of the trial, the conviction and the application to review the conviction – ending with some questions needing answers in relation to the legal processes embodied in this case.