Billy Mills was found guilty of a gun raid on a Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Partick, Glasgow, in May 2007, and given a 9 year prison sentence.
At the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh, judges acknowledged that new DNA evidence had emerged. The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, said: “The new evidence confirms all of our reservations about this conviction. We agree that there is clearly reasonable doubt. We conclude that there has been a miscarriage of justice and allow the appeal.”
The trial jury heard that a masked robber pointed a handgun at staff and customers in the raid on the bank on Dumbarton Road in Patrick. He demanded cash before getting away with £8,216. Mr Mills had denied the offence, claiming he was home at the time, and in his defence incriminated another man, convicted criminal Michael Absalom, for the robbery.
Mr Mills’ trial had relied on identification evidence from eyewitnesses and from police officers who viewed CCTV stills. But several witnesses also testified that the robber spoke with a foreign accent, with two saying he sounded South African.
Following Mills’ conviction fresh DNA evidence emerged linking South African, Absalom, to the raid. DNA matching his profile was found on door stop from the bank. Lord Gill said: “Even without this new evidence this was a prosecution that stood or fell by eyewitness identification alone.That is a form of proof that has been shown to be, in some cases, a dangerous basis for a prosecution, as history shows. There was no forensic evidence of any kind against the appellant. The robber’s face was partially masked.”
Absalom was jailed for 8½ years last year for robbing an American Express office in Hope Street, Glasgow, and an RBS branch in Troon, Ayrshire.