Dons delight by luckboy


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No. 3351

Thursday, February 8th, 2001


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After 27 years in jail, Stephen Downing is freed on bail
said: “After what was said today, it seems BAKEWELL prisoner Stephen very likely that the Court of Appeal will Downing had his first taste of By freedom in nearly three decades Marcus Edwards at judge this to be an unsafe conviction.” yesterday (Wednesday) after the Court of Appeal being granted bail by a High Mr Fitzgerald said: “The appellant was Court judge.

Stephen (44) was on his way home from Littlehey Prison in Cambridgeshire for a reunion with his parents, Ray and Juanita, and sister Christine.

Dad Ray said he was “delighted” by the news. “We can start planning things now. We’re just delighted.” The Court of Appeal was told by Downing’s barrister, Ed Fitzgerald QC, that his appeal was “almost bound to succeed,” after the Crown conceded that there were serious flaws in the confession which formed the “main plank” of the original prosecution case.

never informed he was under arrest. He was taken to the police station at 2.30pm and was there for seven hours before he was cautioned. He was never informed of his rights to a solicitor.” “The admission in the confession is open to serious question. In effect, the Crown accepts this doubt over the admissability of the confessions affects the safety of the conviction.” The conditions of Downing’s bail were not made public, although they are understood to include a requirement that he resides at his home on Stanton View, Bakewell. West Derbyshire MP Patrick McLoughlin

Mr Justice Pritchard said: “On the face of the evidence, the admissibility of the confession should have been challenged at the original trial.”

Bob Wood, Deputy Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police, said in a statement: “The Chief Constable will consider the result of the appeal before making a decision about any further police investigation.”

Don’s delight
MATLOCK Mercury editor Don Hale described the court's decision as "tremendous", saying it vindicated six-and-a-half years of "hard slog." He was later praised by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons who labelled him a “champion.” Mr Blair said: “I’m only pleased that after such a long period of time, this case is finally at an end.” Mr Hale, who has spearheaded the campaign to clear Downing's name since 1994, said: “I was confident the case was strong, but after all the obstacles over the past few years it was difficult to predict what would happen. "This should have happened before Christmas, but better late than never. “It comes as a very pleasant surprise." Mr Hale said Downing would be "elated, yet shocked" at the news. He added: “Finally, he can begin to try and rebuild his life. “There is going to be a very tough test adjusting back to normal life again, but he will have a lot of support." There was still a considerable amount of work to be done in preparation for the appeal, he added. Downing’s best friend, Richard Brailsford (46) was overjoyed at the news. He said: “Its fantastic. I had my doubts before the hearing and we have been disappointed before. “You get built up but this time it has come true – it’s real.”

l ANY QUESTIONS: Mercury editor Don Hale and Wendy’s former husband David Sewell brave the media scrum outside the Court of Appeal. Picture courtesy of the BBC

Wendy’s husband hits out at MP
DAVID Sewell was at the Court of Appeal yesterday to watch Mr Justice Pitchford grant bail to the man convicted of killing his wife. Speaking outside the court, Mr Sewell said the decision was of little significance. Downing, he said, “was convicted, found guilty and has served his time, so let him out. “This is a police procedural matter, not a matter of guilt or innocence.” Mr Sewell, who was on his way to Paris, went on to accuse West Derbyshire MP Patrick McLoughlin of “supporting a campaign without considering the other side of the argument.”

He said people had been “brainwashed” by the local press. Mr Sewell, who has remarried since the murder, criticised the portray-

al by the media of his former wife, which he said had been “disgraceful”. He added: “They are all lies.” He said he had no intention to push Derbyshire Police to reopen the investigation into the killing if Downing’s appeal was successful.

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