Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My youngest nephew

had to do his internship with a law firm earlier this year. It is something that all law students have to do in order to get their registration with the Supreme Court.
Unlike many other students he did not get a great variety of rather unsatisfactory "experience". Instead he was given the task of reading all the evidence and all the court documents and the transcript for a criminal trial with a view to making a case for appeal. 
It was weeks of painstaking work. He had to look at and consider every detail, particularly the issues surrounding the autopsy. He worked very long hours. He was under a lot of pressure because there is a group of supporters of the accused who have been agitating for the man's release and another trial for a long time. An appeal was only possible because legislation changed allowing for a retrial where there was "new and compelling" evidence - and, in this case, that had to come about because science has advanced and the conclusions from the autopsy are now being questioned.
Last week the media announced that the appeal had been successful. Yesterday the man was released on bail. He has served almost twenty years. He would have been very close to being eligible for parole.
      "It makes you wonder how many other perhaps innocent people are behind bars," someone said to me yesterday. I agree. I don't think there would be too many but the possibility exists. There is obviously sufficient compelling evidence to raise doubts in this case.
A retrial, if one occurs, will present many problems - not least because of the lapse of time. No matter how good you believe your memory to be trying to genuinely and clearly recall events of more than twenty years ago is difficult, if not impossible. There are problems ahead and everyone involved knows it.
I don't know whether the man in question is innocent or guilty. That is something he alone knows. But, there is something else we all need to consider...
If we still had the death penalty this man might have been hung. He could be innocent.


Helen Devries said...

Given the U.K. police habit of banging up anyone with the mental age of a child when in doubt as to who had committed a crime I have always been against the death penalty.

catdownunder said...

Happens here too Helen - I have always been opposed to the death penalty too.