Commission refers the 1985 robbery conviction of Martin Foran to the Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the robbery and conspiracy to rob convictions of Martin Foran to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Foran was tried at Birmingham Crown Court in 1985 on charges of robbery and conspiracy to rob. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted and sentenced to six years' imprisonment for robbery and to a further two years, to run consecutively, for conspiracy to rob.

He sought to appeal against the convictions but his appeal was dismissed in July 1986. In 1992, Mr Foran applied to the Home Office for a review of his case. His case was reviewed and subsequently referred to the Court of Appeal by the Home Secretary. Mr Foran’s second appeal was dismissed in February 1995.

Mr Foran applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of his case in June 2011.

The Commission has decided to refer Mr Foran’s convictions to the Court of Appeal because it believes that there is a real possibility the Court will quash the convictions. The case is being referred on the basis that information, not previously considered in proceedings against Mr Foran, has come to light regarding the credibility of a police officer from the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad who was involved in the case against Mr Foran. This information, and a reassessment of other matters relating to the officer that have previously been raised on Mr Foran's behalf, leads the Commission to conclude that the officer's credibility is tainted.

Also, developments in case law mean that the fact that the evidence of a tainted officer is supported by an officer to whom no criticism is attached, is no longer sufficient to uphold a conviction (as was the case at Mr Foran's 1995 appeal).

Mr Foran is represented by Olliers Solicitors, Castlefield Chambers, 11 Duke Street, Manchester, M3 4NF.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 633 1806 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Commission has referred several cases on grounds relating to the involvement of discredited West Midland Serious Crime Squad officers. These have included the Commission referrals in the cases of: Victor Deans, Trevor Campbell, John Cummiskey, Michael Dunne, Patrick Irvine, David Murphy and Patrick O'Toole and George Twitchell. These cases are among many more appeals heard by the Court of Appeal in relation to the West Midland Serious Crime Squad which was disbanded in 1989.
  2. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
  3. There are ten Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments' Code of Practice.
  4. The Commission receives around 1,000 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 4%, or one in 25, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.
  5. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made.  New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are  'exceptional circumstances'.
  6. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.