The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the murder convictions of Robert and Lee Firkins to the Court of Appeal.
Brothers Robert and Lee Firkins were convicted together in January 2006 at Exeter Crown Court for the murders in 2005 of Carol and Graham Fisher at their home at Perch, near Wadebridge in Cornwall.
The brothers pleaded not guilty to the murders. Both pleaded guilty to other offences including causing grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm, possession of a firearm and robbery*. They were sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 26 years.
Robert and Lee Firkins sought leave to appeal against the murder convictions in February 2006. Their appeals were dismissed. They applied to the CCRC for reviews of their convictions in January 2015.
The Commission has decided to refer their murder convictions for appeal because it believes there is new evidence and / or new argument that gives rise to a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will now quash those convictions.
The Commission has sent full details of the reasons for its decision to the Court of Appeal and provided an outline of the reasons to the brothers’ legal representatives. The Commission cannot make public any details about its decision because it is based on sensitive information.
Lee Firkins was represented in his application to the CCRC by Jane Hickman of Hickman and Rose Solicitors. Robert Firkins was represented by Rhona Friedman of Commons Law CIC.
* Information about these offences was provided to the jury under section 101(1)(d) Criminal Justice Act 2003, as relevant to propensity to commit robbery and to use sudden and exceptional violence.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 07947 355 231 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- 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.
- There are currently 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 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.
- 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.
- 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