Commission refers the convictions of Thomas Kingston, Thomas Reynolds and Terence O’Connell to the Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred to the Court of Appeal the convictions of Thomas Kingston, Thomas Reynolds and Terence O’Connell.

Messrs Kingston, Reynolds and O’Connell were tried together at the Central Criminal Court on 4th August 2000.  All three pleaded not guilty. Messrs Kingston and Reynolds were convicted of conspiracy to supply a Class B controlled drug (amphetamine) and were sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. Mr O’Connell was convicted of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.

At the time of the offences for which they were convicted, all three men were police officers serving with the South East Regional Crime Squad (SERCS) of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

In April 2001 their appeals against conviction were heard jointly with those of two other former SERCS officers, Robert Clark and Christopher Drury (see notes). All the appeals were dismissed.

Messrs Kingston, Reynolds and O’Connell applied to the Commission for a review of their convictions in March 2011.
 
The Commission has decided to refer their convictions to the Court of Appeal. The referrals are made on the grounds that since Messrs Kingston, Reynolds and O’Connell’s trial and appeal, new evidence has come to light which gives rise to a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will not uphold their convictions.  The new evidence relates to post-trial allegations made by Mr Neil Putnam, a key prosecution witness in the case.

In a BBC TV documentary called “The Boys Who Killed Stephen Lawrence”, which was broadcast in 2006, Mr Putnam alleged that prior to his arrest, he was told by DS Davidson (a former SERCS officer) of a corrupt link between DS Davidson and Clifford Norris. Mr Norris’s son, David Norris, had at that time been suspected of involvement in the murder of Stephen Lawrence and has since then been convicted of that offence.  Mr Putnam also alleged that in 1998 he told MPS officers of this link and that they failed to act upon it.  Although later investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the MPS have found that Mr Putnam’s allegations are unsubstantiated, he has repeated them on a number of occasions. 

The Commission has concluded that this new evidence raises substantial doubts as regards Mr Putnam’s credibility and reliability and that, as a result, there is a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will conclude that Mr Putnam’s evidence at Messrs Kingston, Reynolds and O’Connell’s trial can no longer safely be relied upon and that their convictions are in consequence unsafe and should be quashed. 

The purpose of the Commission’s review has solely been to establish whether or not there is new evidence which gives rise to a real possibility that Messrs Kingston, Reynolds and O’Connell’s convictions will be quashed.  The Commission has not itself specifically investigated the issue of whether there was corruption in the initial Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.  It is right to say, however, that during the course of its review it has found nothing which lends support to the allegations which Mr Putnam has made.

Messrs Kingston, Reynolds and O’Connell are represented by Kaim Todner Solicitors of 11 Bolt Court, London. EC4A 3DQ.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 633 1806 or e-mail.

Notes re: the Drury and Clark case

The Commission referred the convictions of Christopher Drury and Robert Clark to the Court of Appeal in March 2009. Messrs Drury and Clark were co-defendants in a trial at the Central Criminal Court in November 1999. Mr Drury was convicted of conspiracy to supply a class B drug and two counts of perverting the course of public justice. He was sentenced to a total of 11 years imprisonment. His sentence was later varied on appeal to eight years. Mr Clark was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and two counts of perverting the course of public justice. He was sentenced to a total of twelve years in prison. His sentence was later varied on appeal to ten years.

At the time of the offences for which they were convicted, Messrs Drury and Clark were police officers serving with the South East Regional Crime Squad. Both men were granted leave to appeal against their convictions and sentences in February 2001. In April 2001 their appeals against conviction were dismissed by the Court of Appeal. Both appeals against sentence led to their sentences being reduced.

Mr Drury applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2001 for a review of his sentence. The Commission did not refer the matter to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Drury and Mr Clark then made a joint application to the Commission in 2002.

The Commission decided to refer their convictions to the Court of Appeal because it was of the opinion that non-disclosure of prosecution material may have significantly disadvantaged the defence such as to raise a real possibility that the convictions would not be upheld on appeal.

In 2010, the Court of Appeal quashed their convictions and ordered a retrial on some of the counts on the indictment.  In October 2011, Messrs Clark and Drury were formally acquitted of all charges after the Crown offered no evidence at the retrial.

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 10 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 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.

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.