The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Michael Gracia to the Crown Court.
Mr Gracia was arrested and prosecuted following a Reclaim the Streets protest in August 1996. In January 1997 at Horseferry Road Magistrates Court he pleaded not guilty to assault on a police officer. He was convicted and received a conditional discharge for 12 months and was ordered to pay £50 costs.
Mr Gracia was a co-defendant of John Jordan whose conviction arising from the same events was referred for appeal by the Commission in July 2013.
In September 2014, the Commission’s referral of Mr Jordan’s case came before Southwark Crown Court. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) chose not to contest Mr Jordan’s appeal and the appeal was allowed.
During its investigation into Mr Jordan’s conviction the Commission ascertained that one of Mr Jordan’s co-accused (who was acquitted) was an undercover police officer. At trial, the CPS, the court and the defence were not aware of this fact. The CPS subsequently acknowledged that, had they been aware of the situation, there was a “strong likelihood” that John Jordan would not have been prosecuted.
Mr Gracia’s conviction arises from the same circumstances and much of the same evidence as Mr Jordan’s. In view of this, and in the light of Mr Jordan’s successful appeal, the Commission located and approached Mr Gracia and invited him to make an application for a review of his conviction. Mr Gracia’s application arrived at the Commission on 30th October 2014.
The Commission has decided to refer Mr Gracia’s conviction for appeal at the Crown Court because it considers that there is a real possibility that an appeal at the Crown Court will succeed.
Mr Gracia is represented by Mr Jeremy Hawthorn of Kirwans Solicitors, Il Palazzo, 7 Water Street, Liverpool L2 0RD.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail email@example.com
Notes for editors
1. 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.
2. There are currently 12 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 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred 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.