The Criminal Cases Review Commission (“CCRC”) has referred a 2013 murder conviction to the Court of Appeal after commissioning fresh psychiatric assessments about the defendant’s mental health at the time of the offences.
Nicole Thomas, who was known as Nicola Edgington at the time of her conviction, was convicted at the Central Criminal Court in 2013 of the attempted murder of Kerry Clarke and the murder of Sally Hodkin in Sussex in 2011. She is serving a life sentence for murder with a minimum term of 37 years.
The CCRC referral is based on the question of whether she should have been convicted of manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility rather than murder. There is no suggestion that she was not criminally responsible.
Prior to the offences, Ms Thomas had experienced a psychotic episode. Nicole Thomas had also been convicted of manslaughter in 2006 on the grounds of diminished responsibility and had consequently served three and a half years in a secure psychiatric facility.
In 2016 the CCRC received an application to review her case and later instructed a psychiatrist to assess the mental health evidence used in the trial.
After conducting a series of complex and lengthy investigations, the CCRC has called into question key aspects of the medical and psychiatric evidence in the prosecution case against Ms Thomas. Its fresh psychiatric report identified that the jury had not been made aware of important aspects of the earlier evidence, which gave the jury a misleading impression of Ms Thomas’s mental health.
The CCRC therefore considers that there is a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will quash Ms Thomas’s conviction for murder and replace it with a conviction for manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.
CCRC Chairman, Helen Pitcher, OBE said:
“At the time of Nicole Thomas’s trial, prosecution evidence around the full extent of her mental health issues was not fully explained.
“Important information was overlooked or not conveyed correctly, and this may have misled the jury.
“Had this evidence been explained sufficiently it might have changed the outcome at her trial.”
This press release was issued by the Communications Team, Criminal Cases Review Commission. They can be contacted by phone on: 0121 232 0900 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
- The CCRC 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 11 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
- The CCRC 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 CCRC 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 CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate and Instagram the_ccrc