14 years in jail after being threatened into confessing to a crime he didn’t do
A man who served 14 years in jail after being convicted of the murder of an elderly widow was freed by the Court of Appeal yesterday. Trevor Campbell, now 35, had been sentenced to life imprisonment in March 1985.
He was alleged to have committed the crime with his girlfriend Christine Sawbridge, a Jehovah’s Witness who was 15 at the time of the murder of Ethel Cawood, whom she met while delivering religious magazines. Mrs Cawood, 84, was stabbed at her home in the West Midlands.
Mr Campbell, convicted by a jury at Stafford Crown Court when he was just 20, had consistently denied involvement in the murder. After his release yesterday, his mother, Cynthia Campbell, said: “I am delighted that my son is free, but I am very bitter that he has spent nearly 15 years in prison.”
Errol Robinson, Mr Campbell’s solicitor, said his client was “delighted beyond expression” to be given his freedom but was “totally bitter” about having spent nearly 15 years in prison because of the “impropriety of police officers”. Those lost years could never be retrieved, he said.
David Martin-Sperry, for Mr Campbell, had told the court that the main basis of his client’s conviction was a signed confession which, he claimed, was false and only made after he was threatened by members of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad.
Lord Bingham, the Lord Chief Justice, said the admissions that Mr Campbell was said to have made had “formed the bedrock of the case against him”.
(Retrieved from The Times, 15 October 1999)
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