A man found guilty of armed robbery two years ago is to have his case referred to the Court of Appeal after it was decided there were problems with his conviction, it emerged today.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body responsible for reviewing suspected miscarriages of justice, has referred the case of Joseph Otoo, 19, for appeal after doubts were raised about DNA testing used for his conviction.
Otoo was 17 when he was sentenced to seven years’ detention in a Young Offenders Institution for armed robbery by Manchester Crown Court in February 1997.
He was arrested after a gang of men carried out a robbery of a car hire depot on Cheetham Hill in Manchester in 1995.
The gang fled with £420 but their car was rammed by the manager of the store who then followed them as they hid in a supermarket.
Otoo was arrested in the supermarket and was later charged after the print of a trainer found near the supermarket was shown to match his trainers.
He claimed at his trial that he had been forced to swap shoes with another man in the supermarket and had nothing to do with the robbery, but the jury did not believe him.
A spokesman for the Criminal Cases Review Body, which contains 14 members and was set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995, said Otoo applied to them last May.
He said: “The Commission decided that there were exceptional circumstances which justified referring the case to the court of appeal.
“During our investigations DNA testing was carried out on the trainer and we believe there are grounds for the Appeal Court to consider the case,” he added.
On 31 January 2000 the full Court of Appeal comprising Lord Justice Pill, Mr Justice Brian Smedley and Mr Justice Crane, allowed the appeal against conviction.
They concluded that DNA profiling of a trainer shoe, a crucial piece of evidence in the trial, gave powerful support to Mr Otoo’s explanation that he had been forced to change shoes with a man who he alleged was one of the robbers. The profiling technique had not been available at the time of the trial three years earlier.
(Retrieved from L1news, 25th October 1999)