The Crown Prosecution Service yesterday dramatically revealed that they would not oppose the appeal of Sam Hallam against murder charges which have seen him serve seven years in prison.
He was told on Wednesday that he would be released from prison with immediate effect.
Mr Hallam, 24, was jailed in 2005 for the murder of Essayas Kassahun, a trainee chef. He was just 17 years old at the time, and stood accused of being part of a baseball-bat-wielding gang who attacked and killed Mr Kassahun in East London.
Mr Hallam has persistently denied the murder, and both he and his family have campaigned vehemently for his release.
Mr Hallam was convicted on the basis of testimony from two witnesses that he was among the group. However, he always maintained that he was half a mile away playing football at the time of the attack.
The Court of Appeal heard yesterday how the police investigation into the killing was fatally flawed. Officers had failed to correctly corroborate his alibi and the prosecution had not disclosed crucial mobile phone and CCTV evidence to the trial court.
Addressing the court, Mr Hallam’s lawyer, Henry Blaxland QC said: “(My client) has been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice brought about by a combination of manifestly unreliable identification evidence, the apparent failure of his own alibi, failure by police properly to investigate his alibi and non-disclosure by the prosecution of material that could have supported his case.”
Mr Hallam’ s first appeal in 2007 was dismissed, but a subsequent review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission revealed evidence which they felt had been overlooked.
A crucial witness in the case, Phoebe Henville, had changed her account of events several times during the investigation, and later admitted that she had simply picked Mr Hallam for want of someone to blame for the murder. Further investigation revealed nine witnesses who said that Mr Hallam was not at the scene.
Speaking outside the court, a supporter of Mr Hallam’s, Penny Millard said: “They all knew he was innocent: he wasn’t there. Today is amazing. It should have happened sooner but the wheels of justice are slow. We can’t believe this.”
Mr Hallam left the Royal Courts of Justice a free man, arm-in-arm with his mother Wendy amidst a champagne shower from longstanding friends and supporters.
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