Commission refers the murder conviction of Wang Yam to the Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the murder conviction of Wang Yam to the Court of Appeal.

Wang Yam was convicted for the murder of Allen Chappelow in Hampstead London in 2007.

Mr Yam pleaded not guilty to murder and to related charges of burglary, theft, handling stolen property and obtaining a money transfer by deception. He was convicted in March/April 2008 of handling stolen property, obtaining a money transfer by deception and theft; the jury were unable to reach a verdict on charges of murder and burglary.

Following a retrial Mr Yam was convicted of murder and burglary and, on 29 January 2009, he was sentenced for all convictions to life imprisonment with a minimum prison term of 20 years.

Mr Yam appealed against his convictions and sentence in 2010. The handling stolen goods conviction was quashed but the appeals in relation to the other convictions were dismissed. Mr Yam has also pursued proceedings in the Supreme Court and in the European Court of Human Rights.

He applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of his conviction in July 2012.

Having conducted a comprehensive investigation of the case, the Commission has decided to refer Mr Yam’s murder conviction to the Court of Appeal.

The referral is based on new evidence relating to the failure by police to reveal to the Crown Prosecution Service, and consequently to deprive Mr Yam’s defence of, material which might have assisted the defence and /or undermined the prosecution case.

The material in question relates to police records about an incident which took place near to, and within months of, Mr Chappelow’s murder in which someone was threatened in circumstances with features relevant to the case against Mr Yam. The incident arguably could have formed the basis for the defence to propose the existence of alternative suspect.

The existence of the incident first came to light as a result of an article that appeared in The Guardian newspaper in January 2014. The Commission subsequently found that police records of the incident were not made available to the defence during the disclosure process.

Mr Yam was legally represented in his application to the Commission by Yam’s solicitor is James Mullion, 17 Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 4AR. Tel: 020 7930 5100.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail

Notes for editors

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  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.