Commission refers the 2012 murder conviction of C. Hunnisett to the Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred for appeal the 2012 murder conviction of C. Hunnisett.

C. Hunnisett was tried at Lewes Crown Court in 2012 for the murder of Peter Bick. They pleaded not guilty and the Judge directed the jury on issues of loss of control, self-defence and diminished responsibility. C. Hunnisett was convicted of murder in May 2012 and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years.

They tried to appeal against conviction in 2015 but were unsuccessful and applied to the CCRC later that year. They were transferred from prison to a secure hospital in 2018.

Having reviewed the case in detail, including having obtained and considered new psychiatric opinion, the Commission has decided to refer the case for appeal. The referral is based on new expert evidence suggesting that C. Hunnisett was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing, that in the Commission’s view raises a real possibility the Court will quash the murder conviction and replace it with one for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

If the conviction is so replaced, the likely outcome is that the prison sentence for murder will be replaced with a prison sentence with a direction that C. Hunnisett be detained in hospital.

They were not represented in their application to the Commission.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 07947 355231 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk

Notes for editors

1.    The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently 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.

2.    There are currently 13 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.

3.    The Commission usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.

4.    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”.

5.    If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.

6.    More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate