A man who has served 12 years of a life sentence for murder has been freed after his conviction was overturned as unsafe. Trevor Wickens, 56, from Herne Bay in Kent, was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court in 1991 for the 1986 murder of 89-year-old Mabel Crandell.
But the guilty verdict was quashed last Wednesday after questions over the time of the woman’s death emerged.
He was not immediately released, but today walked free from the Court of Appeal, saying he wanted to go home and get on with his life.
Evidence not heard
Including the time he spent in custody before his trial, Mr Wickens had been locked up for 13 and a half years.
The appeal hearing had already been told someone else had confessed to the killing, but that confession had not been mentioned in the 1991 trial.
The judges also heard evidence from a crown pathologist which showed it was “extremely unlikely” Mr Wickens could have committed the crime was also not heard at the trial.
Mrs Crandell was found dead after a fire in her bungalow in Station Road, Herne Bay, on Monday 1 September 1986.
Her body was found in the hallway, with multiple facial and neck injuries, which were said to have been inflicted by “stamping with a shod foot”.
Mr Wickens was arrested in December 1989, after a Herne Bay couple told police he had confessed to the murder the day before the body was found, and threatened to harm them and their children if they told anyone.
His QC told the appeal judges Mrs Crandell was last seen alive on Saturday afternoon, meaning if Mr Wickens confessed on Sunday she would have to have been killed on the Saturday night.
The pathologist’s evidence showed this was unlikely to have been the time of death.
Mr Wickens had an application for an appeal turned down in 1991.
He said after the court’s ruling: “I did not kill Mrs Crandell. Ever since I was arrested on 4 December, 1989, I have denied my involvement in her terrible murder.
“We have had many hurdles to overcome and for long periods there seemed little hope that this day would ever come.
“As an innocent man, I have lost 13 and a half years spent in prison for something that I did not do.
“I now want to go home and get on with my life.
“I ask that everyone respects my privacy and gives me the chance to do just that.”
Retrieved from the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/2997992.stm
Conviction quashed after twelve years: A man who has served 12 years of a life sentence for murder is to be freed after it emerged someone else confessed to the killing 17 years ago.
Trevor Wickens, from Herne Bay in Kent, was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court in 1991 for the 1986 murder of 89-year-old Mabel Crandell.
The Court of Appeal released him on Wednesday after it emerged another man had told his girlfriend he had committed the murder.
His confession had not been mentioned to the jury at Mr Wickens’ trial in 1991, on the basis it amounted to “hearsay” evidence.
Mrs Crandell, who lived in a bungalow in Station Road, Herne Bay, was found dead on 1 September 1986 after a fire at her home.
‘Confessed to girlfriend’
Her battered body was found lying in the hallway, with multiple facial and neck injuries, which pathologists said appeared to have been inflicted by “stamping with a shod foot”.
Mr Wickens was arrested in December 1989, after a Herne Bay couple told police he had confessed to the murder, and threatened to harm them and their children if they told anyone.
Mr Wickens’ QC, Timothy Barnes, told the Appeal Court his client had always denied any involvement, despite knowing that an admission of guilt would be likely to see him released earlier.
He told the court that Levi Draper, a well-known local drug addict, had confessed to his girlfriend Paula Darby, that he had killed Mrs Crandell.
Miss Darby told police in a statement she believed he had been telling the truth.
‘Denied a fair trial’
Mr Draper himself died in 1986, the same year as Mrs Crandell’s murder.
Mr Barnes said Mr Draper had been shown to be in Station Road on the day of the murder and had been arrested but not charged.
He said the evidence of Miss Darby and others who had either had or overheard conversations with Mr Draper should have been presented at Mr Wickens’ trial.
He said two other men, from Southampton and “members of the travelling fraternity”, like Mr Draper, had been arrested in 1987 and had told police they had been in a house in Kent where an old woman had been killed.
The Appeal Court judges overturned Mr Wickens’ conviction and are due to give their reasons next Tuesday.
Mr Wickens is not being freed immediately and the prosecution has said it will not seek a retrial.
Retrieved from the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/2982622.stm