Andrew Malkinson, who endured 17 years of wrongful imprisonment for a crime he did not commit, has achieved another significant victory in his ongoing Court of Appeal endeavor to vindicate his innocence.
Initially convicted of a rape offense in Greater Manchester back in 2003, Malkinson was sentenced to life in prison with a mandated minimum incarceration period of seven years the following year. Despite maintaining his innocence throughout, he persevered through an additional decade behind bars.
In a turning point, his conviction was overturned by senior judges at the Court of Appeal in July, following the emergence of DNA evidence connecting a different individual to the crime.
Remarkably, the pivotal evidence required to challenge my conviction had remained concealed within police records for the preceding two decades.
Overturning Mr Malkinson’s convictions, for two counts of rape and one of choking or strangling with intent to commit rape, Lord Justice Holroyde said he could “leave the court free and no longer be subject to the conditions of licence”.
During Mr. Malkinson’s trial, no DNA evidence existed to connect him to the crime. The prosecution’s case against him relied solely on identification testimony.
The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Goose and Sir Robin Spencer, said last month that Mr Malkinson’s legal team “raised a number of substantial and important points” in other parts of his appeal that would be decided in writing.
In a verdict issued on Monday, the panel of three judges declared Mr. Malkinson’s conviction to be unsafe due to inadequacies in disclosing crucial evidence.
Edward Henry KC, for Mr Malkinson, previously described these as “deplorable disclosure failures, which mostly lay at the door of the Greater Manchester Police”.
This encompasses police photographs depicting the victim’s injured left hand, which substantiated her account of sustaining a broken nail while defending herself from her assailant. Additionally, it has come to light that the two eyewitnesses who identified Mr. Malkinson had prior convictions for dishonesty-related offenses.
None of this was available to Mr Malkinson’s defence team at his trial and Mr Henry said the failure to disclose the photographs “deprived” Mr Malkinson of his “strongest defence point – his lack of any facial injury”.
In the recent ruling on Monday, Lord Justice Holroyde sided with Mr. Malkinson on two additional grounds.
He said: “In the very particular circumstances of this case, the non-disclosure of the two relevant photographs prevented the appellant from putting his case forward in its best light, and strengthened the prosecution case against him in a manner which the photographs show to have been mistaken.”
The judge added: “Cross-examination about the witnesses’ previous convictions would have been capable of casting doubt on their general honesty and capable of affecting the jury’s view as to whether they were civic-minded persons doing their best to assist.”
Nonetheless, the trio of judges presiding over the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr. Malkinson’s appeal on two other counts, pertaining to the drug usage of one of the witnesses and the sentencing related to a motoring offense.
Lord Justice Holroyde also said: “The stark reality is that the appellant has spent very many years in prison, having been convicted on identification evidence which he always disputed and which cannot now be regarded as providing a safe basis for the jury’s verdicts.
“We regret that this court cannot alter that fact.”
Following Monday’s ruling, Mr Malkinson said: “I feel vindicated by the court’s finding that Greater Manchester Police unlawfully withheld evidence, denying me a fair trial and causing my wrongful conviction nightmare.
“The evidence needed to overturn my conviction has been sitting in police files for the past two decades.
“Yet the CCRC (Criminal Cases Review Commission) did not bother to look and it fell to the small charity Appeal to bring it to light.”
Mr Malkinson asked for the CCRC’s chair Helen Pitcher to apologise “and take accountability for the CCRC’s failures, which cost me extra years behind bars for a crime I did not commit”.