A former prisoner who fought a 10-year campaign to clear his name after being wrongly convicted on evidence of members of the disbanded West Midlands police serious crime squad was celebrating the quashing of his conviction yesterday.
Trevor McCalla, 35, who had lost a similar appeal in 1987, became the 23rd crime squad victim to have his conviction overturned by the Appeal Court, which decided it was unsafe and unsatisfactory.
The total cost of the investigation into the disbanded squad and compensation for miscarriages of justice to men wrongly convicted is now likely to exceed £4 million.
Mr McCalla, a garment presser, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, served 18 months of a three-year prison sentence for conspiracy to rob imposed at Stafford Crown Court in December 1985. Officers from the squad claimed in evidence he had admitted planning to rob a bookmaker’s in Wolverhampton.
The Appeal Court was told on Monday that timings in a statement allegedly made by Mr McCalla to two members of the squad, Det Sgt Peter Reynolds and Det Con Hugh McLelland, had been subsequently altered.
“There is no shred of evidence to suggest Mr McCalla took part in a conspiracy to rob.”
Quashing the conviction, Lord Justice Beldam said: “The findings against Reynolds and McLelland seriously call into question the trustworthiness of their evidence as witnesses. Apart from their evidence, there is no shred of evidence to suggest Mr McCalla took part in a conspiracy to rob.”
Mr McCalla, who plans to sue West Midlands police for compensation, said: “The last 10 years have been very hard. I have missed out on good jobs because I had a criminal record.
“Prison was a real eye opener and I just had to try to keep calm while I was serving my time. I feel numb about it all now. I don’t feel bitter because I have finally cleared my name after all this time. It is a huge weight off my shoulders.”
His solicitor, Jim Horan, added: “The behaviour of the police was appalling. They knew within two to three hours of Trevor’s arrest that he was not involved.
“But he lost his job and his liberty on their evidence despite protesting his innocence right from the start.”