An innocent man who spent 17 years in jail for rape condemned police for unlawfully concealing and destroying evidence after his conviction was quashed because DNA has identified another suspect.
Andrew Malkinson, 57, was convicted of attacking a young mother left for dead in July 2003 and became one of Britain’s longest-serving victims of a miscarriage of justice.
He was jailed for life with a minimum term of seven years but served 17 years because he continued to insist he was innocent.
Greater Manchester police have now arrested the new suspect, who can be identified only as “Mr B”, following fresh DNA analysis. The 48-year-old suspect from Exeter has been interviewed twice and a file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider charges.
The Court of Appeal in London was told that in addition to the new DNA material it has been discovered that police failed to disclose vital evidence which could have cleared Malkinson at his 2004 trial.
Outside the court, Malkinson addressed the rape victim, saying: “Sitting in my cell I used to rack my brain as to how you could say you were so sure it was me when I knew it was not . . . I am so sorry that you were attacked and brutalised that night by that man. I am not the person who attacked you, but what happened to me is not your fault.
“I am so sorry if my fight for truth, as I knew it to be, has caused you extra trauma. I am so sorry the system has let you down. It has let us both down.”
He condemned Greater Manchester police as “liars” and accused the force of trying to cover up its mistakes for 20 years.
“Rather than investigate the multiple leads they were given by the public, they made a horribly traumatised woman look at a line with me in it even though I didn’t match the description she had given of her attacker,” he said. “They unlawfully withheld crucial evidence which would have helped my defence.”
Malkinson said following his conviction he was told every day he was a “violent monster” and feared he would be murdered by a fellow prisoner during the 17 years, four months and 16 days he spent behind bars.
Edward Henry KC, representing Malkinson, told the court: “He spent almost three times the specified sentence in prison because he would not falsely admit an abhorrent crime he did not commit.” He was eventually released under strict licence conditions.
The acquittal follows revelations by The Times in 2018 of serious failings by the police and prosecution in disclosing evidence that led to a review of all cases involving allegations of serious sexual offences in England and Wales.
Malkinson sat impassively with his arms crossed as Lord Justice Holroyde, the vice-president of the Court of Appeal criminal division, quashed the conviction on the basis it was unsafe because of the new DNA evidence.
The judge said: “Mr Malkinson, having waited for so many years, can leave the court a free man with no licence conditions.” The court will rule later on the alleged disclosure failures.
The 33-year-old victim, a mother of two, was walking home in Little Hulton, when she was attacked from behind. She was strangled until unconscious and suffered a broken neck and a fractured cheekbone before being dumped on an embankment of the M61.
A DNA sample, which appeared to be from saliva, was discovered on the victim’s camisole in the area where her left nipple was almost bitten off during the attack.
Mr B’s DNA was updated on the national database in 2012 but only recent refined scientific testing linked the sample to him, the court was told. He lived near the scene of the attack.
Henry said it was fortunate a sample containing the DNA was taken soon after the attack because the victim’s camisole, bra and knickers were later destroyed by police despite a court order requiring them to be preserved.
Malkinson became a suspect because two police officers linked him to the description of the attacker having stopped him a month earlier when he was a passenger on the back of a motorbike.
The day after the attack the officers visited Malkinson at work and noticed his face was not scratched despite the victim saying she left a deep cut on his cheek.
Malkinson, originally from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, spent most of his twenties and thirties working overseas. He was visiting Manchester in 2003 and was working as a security guard in a shopping centre. On the night of the rape he was sleeping on a colleague’s sofa, who was asleep upstairs and could not be certain Malkinson remained at home.
His barrister said the case has “the most troubling identification issues” and “serious and highly significant disclosure failures”.
Henry said it was an “historic case and historic injustice” and that the “deplorable disclosure failures must lie at the door of Greater Manchester police”.
Malkinson did not want to be cleared solely on the new DNA evidence because he is seeking the “widest possible vindication” and to “prevent others suffering the same fate in the future”, the barrister said.
Sarah Jackson, assistant chief constable of Greater Manchester police, said after the conviction was quashed: “We are truly sorry to Mr Malkinson that he is the victim of such a grave miscarriage of justice.
“We are absolutely committed to following all new lines of inquiry to ensure the right person is held accountable for harming her.”
Emily Bolton, director of the Appeal charity which supported Malkinson’s case, said he might be forced to wait many years for compensation as he has to “prove” his innocence.
(Source: The Times)