Some background to R v Dobson & Norris can be found in this article
of May 18. This trial appears to be only the second case and the second murder case of its kind, in which someone previously acquitted of murder has been indicted again for the same offence. The first was that of William Dunlop (see previous article and also this BBC report
about the abolition of this “800-year-old law”). The question posed on May 18 is still valid, if double jeopardy is 800 years old, how old is the law of murder?
The trial has now opened
at the Central Criminal Court, although at the time of writing the jury is still in the process of being selected. In the UK, this usually takes a few minutes, but will take longer here for a number of reasons.
Leaving aside such fallible things as human memory, there are or should be serious questions about the supposedly new forensic evidence that has supposedly been discovered and that has led to these new charges being brought. Last week, ITV screened a mini-series called The Jury
in which a man who had previously been convicted of murdering three women was retried, and it transpired that a successful attempt had been made to frame him first time round by planting forensic evidence. But would real life police officers ever stoop to such a thing?
Check out this letter
, and note points 1. & 2. These are lies. In a civil case heard 4 years later, a judge accepted they were lies, although he said far too diplomatically that the letter contained two statements that were clearly untrue.
One of the computers had been damaged, and the attempts to return it by DC Taylor without examination can be interpreted only as an underhand attempt to disguise this damage. And in the court case, lawyers for the Metropolitan Police sought to prove this damage had already been done to the computer by producing backups which they had claimed earlier did not exist.
So yes, the police would lie about, conceal, and even fabricate evidence. They do so routinely in the full knowledge that they will almost certainly never be held personally accountable, even if their perfidy is uncovered by a blinkered criminal justice system. Many experienced criminal lawyers and barristers will confirm this is the case, although most will only do so off the record.
It should be borne in mind that R v Dobson & Norris is not the result of a cold case review where for example, a tiny quantity of semen found on the clothing of a rape victim has been subjected to enhanced DNA testing and has thrown up the name of an entirely new suspect. This was and remains one of the highest profile unsolved murder cases in modern English criminal history, one in which the two men on trial today and three others were subjected to public vilification, branded murderers by a tabloid newspaper, and even scrutinised by intrusive surveillance of dubious legality, none of which threw up the slightest incriminating evidence. It is far from unlikely that one or even several police officers may have considered that if “justice” could not be done by fair means then it should be achieved by foul.
The judge in this case, Mr Justice Treacy, appears to be one of the more fair-minded and open-minded members of the judiciary; it was his ruling of March 1, 2004
that resulted in the second (albeit failed) appeal of Michael Stone
against his conviction for the Chillenden Murders. It is to be hoped that the jury are also fair and open minded, and can see the possibility of police perfidy, even if Counsel for the Defendants are not so bold as to actually make that claim overtly in open court.