Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the manslaughter conviction of Idris Ali to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Ali, along with co-defendant Alan Charlton, pleaded not guilty but was convicted in February 1991 at Cardiff Crown Court, of the murder of Karen Price (see note 1 below). He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a tariff of 15 years.
Mr Ali and Alan Charlton, appealed against their convictions. In November 1994 the Court of Appeal upheld Mr Charlton’s conviction and quashed Mr Ali’s conviction and ordered a retrial.
In December 1994, prior to the retrial, Mr Ali pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment; because of the time he had already served, he was released from prison at the end of those proceedings. Mr Ali did not appeal against his manslaughter conviction.
In February 2014, the CCRC referred Alan Charlton’s murder conviction to the Court of Appeal. The resulting appeal is now pending.
Following its referral of Mr Charlton’s murder conviction, the Commission invited Mr Ali to make an application; he did so in March 2014.
Having reviewed the case in detail, the Commission has decided to refer Mr Ali’s conviction for manslaughter to the Court of Appeal. The case is referred primarily on the same basis that Mr Charlton’s case was referred. Namely, that there is a real possibility the Court of Appeal will conclude that the conviction is unsafe because of the risk of the prosecution amounting to an abuse of process.
The Commission’s referral is based in part on new evidence that a number of officers from South Wales Police who were involved in the Lynette White murder inquiry (the Cardiff Three case), and the Philip Saunders murder inquiry (the Cardiff Newsagent Three case) (see note 2 below), were also involved in Mr Ali’s case and may have used investigative techniques similar to those used in the Lynette White and Philip Saunders cases and which contributed to the quashing of the convictions in those cases.
The referral is also based on a range of other issues including:
- Breaches by officers in the case of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and of PACE Code of Practice C (regarding the detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers)
- The credibility of a number of prosecution witnesses
- Concerns about oppressive handling by the police of key witnesses which arguably mean that the trial amounted to an abuse of process
- The veracity of Mr Ali’s guilty plea
Mr Ali is represented by Simon Palmer of Davies and Jones Solicitors, 32 The Parade, Roath, Cardiff, CF24 3AD.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
Note 1. Karen Price was 15 years old and living at a residential children’s home in Cardiff at the time of her disappearance. She had last been seen on 2nd July 1981 when she had run away from the children’s home. Her murder was assumed to have taken place shortly after her disappearance. Her skeletal remains were uncovered by workmen digging at the rear of 29 Fitzhammon Embankment, Cardiff, on 7th December 1989. The basement flat at that address had been occupied by Mr Charlton at the time of Karen Price’s disappearance.
Note 2. Following a referral by the CCRC, the 1988 convictions of Michael O’Brien, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall (the Cardiff Newsagent Three) for the murder of Philip Saunders were quashed by the Court of Appeal in January 2000. The 1990 convictions of Yusef Abdullahi, Stephen Miller and Tony Paris (the Cardiff Three) for the murder of Lynette White were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1992. Jeffrey Gafoor was jailed for the murder of Lynette White in 2003.
- The 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.