Commission refers the conspiracy to murder conviction of Paul Arden to the Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Paul Arden to the Court of Appeal.

In 2003 Mr Arden was tried along with six others on a charge of conspiracy to murder Paul Reilly, who was shot dead in the Cheadle Hulme area of Manchester on 18th January 2001.

Mr Arden pleaded not guilty but, following a ten-week trial at Manchester Crown Court, he was convicted on 15th April 2003 and sentenced to life imprisonment with a notional term of 24 years and a minimum term of 12 years. 

Mr Arden sought leave to appeal against the conviction, but leave was denied in December 2004. He applied to the Commission for a review of his case in September 2008.

After Mr Arden’s trial a further four men were prosecuted on the basis that they had also been participants in the conspiracy to murder Mr Reilly. At the trials of those men in 2006 and 2007 the prosecution relied on evidence from one of Mr Arden’s convicted co-defendants. That evidence, and the case advanced by the prosecution at those later trials, were in important respects inconsistent with the prosecution’s evidence and case against Mr Arden at his trial.  

The Commission has decided to refer Mr Arden’s conviction to the Court of Appeal because in its view there is a real possibility that the court will conclude that the evidence of Mr Arden’s co-defendant and the change of stance by the prosecution so undermine the case which was advanced against Mr Arden at his trial that his conviction is unsafe.

The Commission’s referral means that, if the Court of Appeal so chooses, Mr Arden’s appeal may be heard alongside the appeals of two other co-defendants who were tried with him, one of whom has already been granted leave to appeal by the court.

Mr Arden is currently unrepresented although legal representatives will be appointed in due course. 

Notes to editors

  • 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.
  • there are nine 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.
  • 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.
  • 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”.
  • if a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.


This press release was issued by

Justin Hawkins,
Head of Communication,
Criminal Cases Review Commission,
Telephone: 0121 633 1800