‘The most ardent defenders of justice here consider that it is better for an innocent man to be condemned than for the Inquisition to suffer disgrace.’
– Papal envoy, Spain 1565
KEVAN HAS NOW BEEN MOVED TO HMP WAKEFIELD
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
5 Love Lane
Wakefield WF2 9AG
A VICTIM OF multiple HEARSAY AND JOINT ENTERPRISE
1. Original Incident
On 28th August 2007 at around 9.30pm Keith Cowell, Matthew Cowell and Tony Delieu were shot dead at the Cowells’ home in Bishop’s Stortford. Christine Jennings and Claire Evans, who were present at the house were stabbed and injured, Claire Evans sustaining superficial wounds. Hertfordshire Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) then began what they named ‘Operation Strait’ to find someone to place the blame.
The description of the assailant given at the time of the incident was of ‘a black, paki, Asian shorter than 5 foot six with a balding shaved head, clean shaven, wearing a long sleeve white shirt with a collar and unhealthily skinny’. Kev has olive skin, is almost 6 foot tall and at that time was around 12 stone and wore his hair in a French crop . His clothing on the day as seen on CCTV was a blue hooded top. He always wore a distinctive diamond earring (as can be seen on ear on photo skin) but was told to remove this by police prior to taking part in the viper I.D. parade. Not one witness mentioned seeing anyone with an ear piercing.
There was no DNA, forensics, ballistics, or cell siting placing Kevan at or anywhere near the scene.
CCTV evidence clearly contradicted the assertion that Kev could have been present at the scene, no description given matches his appearance which was caught on camera miles away only minutes prior to the incident.
According to William Clegg QC, in a completely seperate case, ‘this lack of forensic evidence [is] extremely unusual.’ Clegg quoted Locard’s Theory – the accepted foundation of forensic science – which states that “every contact leaves a trace”. ‘That being so,’ said Clegg, ‘the murderer would have left a trace of himself at the scene.’ Although extensive tests were carried out including on all clothing owned by Kev, nothing linking him to the scene were ever found.
Ian Jennings, son of Christine Jennings went on the run from police after this incident, and later told them he was £300,000 in debt to the Delieu family for cocaine. Police confiscated a car belonging to Ian Jennings and a large sum of money found under his bed. Police allowed Ian Jennings to plead guilty to 2 charges of conspiracy to supply one kilo of cocaine and half a kilo of cocaine with no evidence in order to create motive to be used to convict Kev. Jennings received a 7 year sentence for this as the sole conspirator. No drugs were ever found. It has been rumoured that Jennings made a deal with police in order to have his car and money returned to him as well as witness protection for life with the rest of his family all receiving regular payments. Police have always refused to release the details of their man, Ian Jennings, or the deals they provided him stating ‘The identity of this person is being withheld to protect the integrity of this case.’
It is clear that from the moment that the police had their informant Ian Jennings on side, there was to be no investigation of the case, just an all out attempt to convict whoever the informant pointed the finger at. The police acted entirely on Ian Jennings’ statement which was clearly flawed and deeply inaccurate.
This incident attracted considerable notoriety as it was the lead story on UK television as well as the front pages of the UK national press, furthermore it produced a media frenzy which was watched by millions across the world.
2. Noble Cause Corruption
Speaking on police corruption, Michael Mansfield QC said: ‘It’s a failing that I’ve highlighted before but absolutely nothing has been done about it. It’s really where the system begins because the bottom line is – what is the evidence that a court or a jury is looking at? That evidence is primarily gleaned and assembled by the police. Now what nearly all the miscarriage cases of the early 1990’s demonstrated was a very primeval instinct that has permeated prosecutions from the beginning of time. Investigators, like it or not, have got a set of preconditions that they impose on a set of circumstances. In the case of the police it’s what I’ve always, in the past, called targeting. They want to make things fit.’
Paul Condon, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force describes ‘noble cause corruption’ – the breaking of rules by police officers acting, not for personal gain, but out of an overdeveloped sense of loyalty to the job…. ‘the majority of officers were prepared to bend the rules. I think they were prepared to massage the evidence, not for their own gain but elaborating on things that were said to make sure that the case had the strongest chance of going through to conviction.’
‘Noble cause corruption’ occurs when the police have in their custody a suspect who they are convinced is guilty but lack the evidence to prove it. In such circumstances officers would, in their own words, ‘bolster’, ‘enhance’, ‘firm up’, ’embroider’ the evidence by inventing verbal admissions (what used to be known as ‘verballing’) or planting incriminating evidence.
Ian Jennings was the first suspect, the first arrested, first cautioned and first interviewed. He and Christine Jennings were, and still are, benefitting financially from the witness protection scheme.
3. Arrested and Charged
Kev was arrested at Heathrow Airport on 2nd September 2007 as he was about to board a flight with his own passport. He had heard his brother Miran was in some trouble and fearing for his life had fled to Northern Cyprus. He wanted to find out more and help if he could. His arrest came just 6 days after the incident and police claimed he had been evading justice when in fact he had just been living his life as normal until he received a phone call from his scared brother, Miran, who stated that he had been threatened at gun point and it was not safe for him to return home. There was evidence of Kev using his credit card as normal during this time as well as cell siting showing him at home. There was also CCTV of him shopping at Tesco but it was not feasable for the prosecution to show him acting so perfectly normal in the days after they wrongly alleged he had carried out such dreadful murders.
Kev was taken to the Police Station and accused of three counts of murder, two of attempted murder and one firearms offence. This was the first Kev had heard of this crime, and anxious to prove his innocence, he volunteered to give a blood DNA sample to the police, and even gave a second sample months after being charged as the police ‘lost’ the original. After being charged Kev states that Detective Sergent Witchard and a detective constable told him when he was taken out for exercise, ‘we know you didn’t do it but if you don’t help us we will make sure you serve 50 years.’
Kev believed that because he had done nothing wrong, he had nothing to fear and he would be released. Proper legal protection within distinct and recognisable procedures would ensure his innocence would be proven.
Hertfordshire Police Authority member, Councilor Bernard Engel said on 08/11/2007 he was ‘perfectly confident with the way it’s going.’ He said, ‘I’m perfectly happy with the investigation. I don’t think there are any concerns. It seems to be more or less an open and shut case from the beginning. I don’t know of any surprises and I don’t expect any.’
Under intense pressure to get results, police focused their attentions on Miran and Kev and set about constructing a case against them. The case against them was at best, circumstantial. The police failed to follow up any other leads which directed away from their chosen targets.
4. Pre Trial
During trial preparation it became apparent that confidential information was making it’s way from the defence to prosecution and to the police. The judge wrote to the then Governor of HMP Woodhill where all the defendants were remanded to ask how this was happening and what levels of surveillance were being used. Luke Sergent, the Governor, wrote back stating that he ‘could neither confirm nor deny whether covert surveillance was or ever had been used in this case.’ This illegal intrusion clearly disadvantaged all defendants.
In March 2008 Kev attempted to have the case against him dismissed due to the fact that there was no case to answer to. Stuart Trimmer QC told a scandalous amount of lies which the judge used to make his decision to have Kev face trial. After the prosecution case during the trial, the judge should have discharged Kev, as the only ‘evidence’ was the I.D. which was proven to be inaccurate. Again the judge was not willing to do this and wanted a jury to decide on guilt based on no real evidence.
It took only nine months for the case to come to trial. Howell and Co. Solicitors were employed in April 2008, 2 months before the trial date. The judge refused to defer the trial to allow time for complete preparation of defence. One of the main reasons for not being prepared was the CPS failing to meet disclosure deadlines. Another was Kev’s corrupt solicitor Richard Evans who was working freelance for Howell and Co solicitors while simultaneously working for Frisby Solicitors of Stafford, unknown to Howell and Co. Not only was Evans, a paralegal, not doing the work he claimed to be doing, he attempted to be paid for it as well. This meant that the only evidence Kev called in his defence was himself.
Both Article 6 and the common law rules of natural justice require a defendant in a criminal trial to have a reasonable opportunity to present their defence. In Kev’s case this was not possible due to a lack of time to prepare brought upon by failure to disclose vital material by the CPS, and a corrupt solicitor all effecting his defence presentation. Had the judge considered Kev’s position as he ought to have done, he could only have rightly concluded that reasonable time and opportunity had not been given for the preparation of the case rather than force the trial to proceed. Such potential prejudice was obvious, and, in the interest of justice, the court was bound to consider, of their own motion, Kev’s position, to ensure the trial process remained fair. This was serious procedural error which undermined the trial process, sufficient in itself to render the trial unfair in Article 6 terms.
During the nine months awaiting trial the story was sensationalised by newspapers printing misinformation fed to them by police in an attempt to influence the outcome. Any member of the jury would have been aware of the case from these stories which would have influenced their decision. Further manipulation was used by officers disclosing confidential information to witnesses and others, which may have impacted heavily upon the evidence they would later give.
Key evidence such as evidence of visitors to the victims in hospital and recordings of their conversations by the investigating team mysteriously disappeared, including one from Ian Jennings visiting Christine Jennings before going on the run immediately after, and disposing of his mobile phones.
Lawyers Anthony Heaton-Armstrong and David Corker say their research has revealed ‘…an alarming picture of incompetence, poor training, pig-headedness, blatant obstuction and generally a widespread inability amongst police and prosecution authorities to comprehend and put into practice the rules on disclosure.’
Research by Joyce Plotnikoff and Richard Woolfson entitled, ‘A Fair Balance? Evaluation of the Operation of Disclosure Law’, shows eighty-two percent of judges and a startling thirty per cent of senior police officers felt it unrealistic to expect police disclosure officers to identify undermining material. There was also a widespread failure to include relevent material in the unused schedules, and seventy-three percent of those that were had been listed in a manner that quality checks would classify as ‘poor’.
Two of Kev’s co-defendants, Jay and Yilay, had both been charged with assisting an offender and accused of helping Kev after the incident which he had no involvement in. Both were kept on remand before being found not guilty but this did not stop the CPS using them to make damaging speculative comments in his speech which helped to wrongly convict Kev. The judge was aware that this was going on and should not have allowed their charges to stand but the entirety of his action was to write ‘where is the evidence for this?’ in his summing up notes which were never seen by the jury.
An alibi witness who was with Kev at the time of the incident in Enfield, Middlesex was threatened by police that he would serve 10 years imprisonment if he told the truth about Kev’s location. He was charged with assisting an offender and made to appear before Stevenage Magistates Court on July 9, where he was remanded in custody. This was during Kev’s trial with the arrest used as a tool of intimidation to scare the alibi out of giving evidence. A press release was also used to discredit his alibi to the jury. This charge was later dropped after Kev was convicted, having served the purpose of creating suspicion of wrongdoing, without actually having to prove it.
In at least one notorious miscarriage of justice case, the Guildford Four, a witness who approached the police to confirm he had been with one of the accused at the time of the murders found himself charged with complicity (and only released when he withdrew his alibi statement).
Kevan was attacked by prison officers at HMP Woodhill two weeks before the trial was due to take place, where he has been treated as a category A prisoner, the highest security level, since his first day on remand. He still had to attend court while suffering from the injuries, including severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The trial was sent from the Old Bailey, to Luton Crown Court, before finally being heard at St. Albans Crown Court. The impact of this was that the defence suffered from a lack of space in the small court room, resulting in the solicitors having to sit in the public gallery rather than along side the barristers and only a minimal amount of papers could be brought into court. As the trial received daily local media coverage, this would also have undoubtedly reached all members of the jury and influenced their deliberation which would have been much less likely if not held in a small local court. Normally, as a safeguard, high profile trials are held outside the locality of either the crime itself, or the home area of the suspect.
5. Jury Bias
In June 2008 Kev and his co-defendants were tried at St Albans Crown Court. The trial was restarted three times for the following reasons:
At the first trial it was discovered that a jury member was known to the prosecution QC Stuart Trimmer, and that they attended the same church. Trimmer ran a Christian children’s summer camp which the juror’s children attend every year and Trimmer had even visited the jurors house for dinner on occasion; although neither the juror nor Trimmer divulged this to the court or defence.
At the second trial it was discovered that a jury member worked for the police advising on I.D. parade procedures but had failed to disclose this information prior to participation in the trial.
At the third trial it was discovered that a jury member was friends with prosecuting officer, D.C. Hall of Hertfordshire Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). They played for the same rugby team and had done so for some time. This was stated by the juror prior to being selected but he was somehow still allowed to join the jury. The judge made the ludicrous decision that they did not know each other directly and allowed the trial to continue. D.C. Hall gave some very suspicious evidence which appeared to suggest he had coached a witness into signing an inaccurate statement which was used to convict.The witness was considered a ‘significant witness’, which meant that in accordance with police practice, his interviews must be tape-recorded, however, Hall spent a whole day with him with no record taken. There was a clear dispute between the defence and the prosecution regarding the credibility of the evidence of DC Hall, and it was likely that the juror who was personally aquainted with him would favour the evidence of the police.
The failure to discharge the jury was such a grave failure as to render the trial unfair. It is incumbent upon the prosecution and indeed the court to ensure that justice is seen to be done. The notion of a ‘fair trial’ includes concepts such as impartiality and independence (something which is clear from European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence) and the relationship of the juror to such a police officer cannot be seen to be in accordance with these concepts. This is made more secure by the fact that 3 juries were clearly not impartial.
As has been stated in the recent case of R v Pouladia-Kari, the judge was wrong not to discharge the jury where there was a juror who had specialist knowledge of the matters relevant to the trial, such as the personal relationship between the juror and D.C. Hall. There was a real possibility of at least unconscious jury bias such that a fair trial was not possible.
In the case of Hanif and Khan v. the United Kingdom, the ECtHR unanimously ruled that where there was a significant challenge to the evidence to be given by police officers and where the juror knew one of the police officers giving evidence, there was a violation of Article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights in that the defendants were not tried by an impartial tribunal and accordingly did not receive a fair trial.
Whenever the ‘necessity’ arises, the jury or any member of the jury may be discharged and the responsibility is that of the judge whether one of the parties makes the application or not (see Azam  EWCA Crim.161 at papagraphs 48 to 50).
In the UK lawyers are not permitted to question the jurors prior to trial (in the voir dire process), making it intuitively more likely that biased or inappropriate people will make it onto the jury. Once jurors have served in England, the lawyers are barred from talking to them. Unless a jury member comes forward themselves, even the most bizarre happening from within the jury room will forever be unknown, possibly resulting in an innocent man never being released from prison until death.
In 1998 the defence right to challenge jurors without cause was abolished. The prosecution right to do so was, however, retained. In effect this means that the prosecution can object to a potential juror without giving any reason.
Also during this trial several jury members complained of suspect phone calls they were receiving. Although the judge ordered an investigation into this nothing was actually done.
6. The Trial
No less than 7 dock officers sat behind the defendants during the entire trial, causing an appearance of dangerousness from the wrongly accused.
For the duration of all 3 trials, Kev was fed only rations of salad sandwiches containing nothing more than a single slice of lettuce and cucumber and if he was lucky, tomato. His defence had to complain to the judge about this on several occasions as Kev was becoming so weak and disoriented that he could not follow proceedings. By the end of the third trial he had lost over 3 stone in weight.
The prosecution produced a knife from the home of the Thakrar family which had traces of Miran’s blood, also a photograph of a firearm from police storage in an attempt to trick the jury into the incorrect belief that these were the actual weapons from the crime. This is known as ‘Wigmore’s Horse’ (psychological phenomenon): If a horse is brought into the courtroom where the man on trial is accused of horse theft, the jurors will automatically – albeit irrationally – leap to the conclusion that it is the horse he stole, and he must therefore be guilty.
The Crown Prosecution Service claimed that only one gun was used at the crime scene yet three types of fired bullets were found by police, 8mm, 9mm, and rifle cartridges. No firearm was ever found and no link between any firearm and Kev was ever made. It was in the interests of the informers, Ian and Christine Jennings, to ensure that those in the dock were convicted. They knew that Ian would not be sentenced until after the trial and if the defendants were acquitted then that could affect the judge’s views on him. On the other hand, a successful prosecution was bound to lead to a very significant discount in the sentence. The financial rewards of the witness protection scheme for both of them may also have not been available if they had failed to do their part.
Claire Evans testified to hearing at least two different sounding types of shooting, but this was ridiculously explained away by the prosecution as possibly mid-way through the crime, the gunman decided to remove the silencer, fired a few shots, then replaced it to continue shooting. Even the judge propagated this nonsense in his summing up when he said, ‘The silencer would have made a difference and it was of course easily removed as there was a screw thread attached to the muzzle.’
Claire Evans and Nicole Cowell both gave statements to the fact that on the night in question they had seen Miran on his own and he had no weapon. Miran had come to the house alone and was there prior to Ian Jennings, Christine Jennings and Tony Delieu arriving.
Matthew Cowell was a known cannabis dealer with a history of violence, and blood tests showed that both he and Keith Cowell had been using cannabis.
Claire Evans had a previous conviction for wasting police time.
Christine Jennings had asked to give evidence via video link for fear of the Delieu family. Tony Delieu had a history for serious criminal offences including possession of a firearm in 2006 and the attempted murder of a man, with a hammer, in a pub in Dagenham. The man had refused to pay money owed to Delieu’s family, major drug importers. Jennings gave evidence from behind a screen which gave the jury the perception that she was afraid of the innocent defendants, which was not the case.
During the trial evidence showed Ian and Christine Jennings to be lifetime criminals,as well as racists, as can be seen from the description they gave of the assailants, with Christine Jennings having numerous prior convictions which included possession of a firearm. They both admitted telling lies in their statements to police and while giving evidence at trial yet no charges were brought against them. At one point Ian Jennings stated that he was making up different answers to the same questions as he kept being asked the same ones and he would continue to make up answers like this.
It has long been known within the legal profession that 5 points can effectively determine whether a witness is lying or not.
1. The consistency of the witness’s evidence with what is agreed, or clearly shown by other evidence to have occurred.
2. The internal consistency of the witness’s evidence.
3. Consistency with what the witness has said or deposed on other occasions.
4. The credit of the witness in relation to matters not germane to the litigation.
5. The demeanor of the witness.
Ian Jennings’ evidence fails the test of truth on all 5 points, whereas Kev’s evidence has remained consistent throughout his ordeal.
Critical aspects of the prosecution case were allowed to be led as evidence without proof to back them up. Both Ian and Christine Jennings were seen to be evasive and confused about numerous aspects of their testimony, as well as being blatantly deceitful throughout large parts of their evidence.
The judge repeated in his summing up what Ian Jennings had testified to, ‘He had one or two or perhaps three suppliers depending upon what he wanted, and he was not willing to identify them because his life would be at risk.’ Somehow the judge failed to notice how strange it was that Jennings was willing to give evidence in court about those he claimed had murdered half of his family in an incident he luckily only just escaped from, but couldn’t identify a small time drug dealer due to fear for his life.
Rachael Briggs, the 19 year old daughter of a prison officer, wrote to Kev while he was in prison explaining the pressure she had been put under by the police and her father into making a statement, but HMP Woodhill withheld this letter from him which was only discovered months after the trial. Briggs, who openly admitted to never having met Kev, was forcibly brought to court by police to discredit his character and believability, or to confuse or mislead the jury. She falsely claimed that Kev, who had a girlfriend at the time, had asked Briggs to go away with him abroad at the end of August 2007.
During the trial, the majority of the reporting was biased and prejudicial – much of the prosecution evidence was reported in detail, while the defence information was kept to an absolute minimum by all media outlets.
The proceedings in this case appear entirely prejudiced against the defendants. Throughout the trial, with the focus on the horrific murders, a hugely disproportionate amount of attention was given to the insignificant, the irrelevent, and the speculative, with the resultant lack of attention given to the logical and factual difficulties.
7. Identification Evidence
The description given of the assailant at the time of the incident was of ‘a black, paki, Asian shorter than 5 foot six with a balding shaved head, clean shaven, wearing a long sleeve white shirt with a collar and unhealthily skinny.’ Kev has olive skin, is almost 6 foot tall and at that time was around 12 stone and wore his hair in a French crop . His clothing on the day as seen on CCTV was a blue hooded top. He always wore a distinctive diamond earring (as can be seen on ear on photo skin) but was told to remove this by police prior to taking part in the VIPER (video identification parade electronic recording). Not one witness mentioned seeing anyone with an ear piercing.
CCTV evidence clearly contradicted the assertion that Kev could have been present at the scene, no description given matches his appearance which was caught on camera miles away only minutes prior to the incident.
While being held at the Police Station Kev was taken for I.D parades even though witnesses had already positively identified two other suspects and he did not fit the description of the suspects the police were looking for.
As Kev was last to be allowed to participate in the ID parade, which he had freely offered to do in order to show his innocence, he was unable to select any of the volunteers to be placed alongside him who had been used during the other suspects parades. This left Kev with nobody to pick who bore any resemblance to his appearance or to the descriptions of the assailants.
Upon completion of the creation of the VIPER parade, Kev had selected to be placed in different positions for each of the two witnesses viewings. At numbers 7 and 8 out of 9. However the police decided arbitrarily change his location to number 6 without any consultation or explanation with Kev or his solicitor, as well as adding a third witnessviewing in which Kev was not given the opportunity to select his position in the parade either. This meant that on all three of the winesses viewings, Kev was located at number 6 out of 9 expressley against his wishes.
The flagrant disregard of procedures did not end there; the recording of Kev taken for the parade was altered significantly prior to being shown to any of the witnesses without him able to even view the changes up to this day. Having tried to select volunteers with a similar hair style to his, Kev was disgusted to hear that the police had determined on a whim to black out the hair of all nine men shown on the parade, but refused his request to amend his selection of volunteers to compensate for these serious changes. Considering the hairstyle was the only attribute from any of the volunteers which bore a likeness to Kev, it was not surprising to see that all 8 of them ended up looking markedly dissimilar in appearance to him in the final version of the VIPER parade.
Even with the police going through all this effort to make Kev appear more pronounced in the parade,Ian Jennings, whose questionable evidence provided background and motive for the case picked numbers 5 and 6 from the line-up. He claimed Number 6 was the gunman. Number 5 being a volunteer and number 6, Kev. After the parade there was a conversation between Jennings, his solicitor and an officer. In evidence Jennings could not remember the conversation but thought that both suspects were on the same parade. Ian Jennings claimed that he had never met Kev when in fact there was satellite navigation history and cell site analysis to show that he had been at Jennings’ address on 26th August 2007 with Miran, Ian and Christine Jennings. When questioned during the trial Ian Jennings said of the I.D parade ‘my head was up my arse. I just picked any two numbers.’
The opportunity for identifying the attacker at the scene would have been short, a fleeting glance at most, so perhaps it is not surprising that Jennings never really had a clue who was responsible
Jennings viewed a second I.D. parade and identified another as the gunman which meant that Kev could not be responsible. However, due to crown prosecution failures and a corrupt defence solicitor this information was not obtained in time to be used.
Christine Jennings viewed four I.D. parades. On the first, she said she was ‘positive’ of her choice of number 5 which was a volunteer. On the second she was again ‘positive’ and picked another man who had been arrested before Kev and was being questioned over the murders as the man without a gun. On the third parade she said she couldn’t be sure and on the fourth she picked Kev as being the man without a gun. During trial when she was told the first positive I.D was a volunteer and the second was not charged with this offence she said she could not be sure that the I.D of Kev was correct. However, when summing this up, the judge stated, ‘so far as Kevan Thakrar is concerned, the main issues are whether or not he was present at the scene and stabbed Christine Jennings as she says he did.’
Claire Evans viewed an I.D parade in which Kev was present and claimed that no-one in the parade was present at the house at the time of the incident. She had given a statement describing the man who first entered her bedroom as ‘shorter than 5ft 6in, smaller than Mike.’ (Mikey is Miran’s nick name). Kev stands taller than Miran at over 5ft 10in.
Kev’s defence was that whether innocently mistaken or motivated to lie, Ian and Christine Jennings were wrong. The judge directed the jury in his summing up that Ian Jennings was telling the truth when he identified Kev. He also allowed vital disclosure of exculpatory evidence to be received after the closing of the defence case meaning it was useless when in fact it proved that Kev had met Ian and Christine Jennings days before the incident so was wrongly identified by them because of this.
Under the Turnbull guidelines, identification evidence may be so poor and unsupported by other evidence that the trial Judge should withdraw the case from the jury. This ‘protects a jury from acting upon the type of evidence which even if believed, experience has shown to be a possible source of injustice.’
It has long been recognised that uncorroborated identification evidence is inherently unreliable. A notorious example was media interviews given by eye witnesses immediately after the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell station in July 2005. Although witnesses gave what they sincerely believed were honest and factually accurate accounts, CCTV footage showed that their recollections were wrong in almost every detail.
A series of catastrophic misidentifications required the introduction of sound new practices for evidence based on that most fragile of human attributes, visual memory. Witnesses must not be prompted; a witnesses memory, as far as possible, must be as safely protected from contamination as a crime scene. The first description is vital. If a witness makes a positive identification of one individual, no subsequent identification of a second is permissible. Equivocation and uncertainty are not enough. The wrongful identification of Kev Thakrar by Ian and Christine Jennings which was the pillar of the prosecution case, was spectacular in its non-compliance with any safeguard. Neither Ian or Christine Jennings should have been invited to an identification parade that included Kev as no description of any man present at 2 Plaw Hatch Close given by any witness was of someone fitting his appearance or wearing the clothing he was seen in on CCTV that day. It was a breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act that Kev’s solicitor was not informed of the contents of either Ian or Christine Jennings’ initial descriptions of the perpetrator before the parade.
United States V. Wade 388 US 218, 228-9 (1967) (Identification evidence is ‘proverbially untrustworthy’ and mistaken eyewitness identifications ‘account for more miscarriages of justice than any other single factor’; unreliable ID’s should be excluded by the trial judge).
Eyewitness misidentification has been accepted worldwide as a leading cause of wrongful convictions. Around 75 per cent of post conviction DNA exonerations in the United States are attributed to eyewitness misidentification.
Recently the courts have become increasingly reluctant to base convictions solely upon eyewitness testimony, especially since studies have exposed the fallibility of such testimony. Had the false multiple hearsay statements not been allowed as evidence, the CPS would have had no case with dodgy, partial ID evidence.
However one examines this identification evidence, the prejudice is overwhelming with no compelling evidence of recognition or identification. In any view this identification evidence is flawed.
There was a complete failure by the judge to rehearse any of the evidence that was relevent to the potential witnesses in the identification of Kev in the summing up. As Lord Widgery CJ explained in R v Turnbell at  the judge ‘should remind the jury of any specific weaknesses which had appeared in the identification evidence’ and that a failure to follow this (or to follow the other guidelines established in that case) is likely to result in the court quashing the conviction. The Crown Court Bench Book reminds judges that this is a necessary ingredient of a summing up in an identification case (page 108). There were a considerable number of points to be emphasised as regards the potential unreliabilityof this identification evidence, and given it was the decisive evidence used to incriminate and justify the prosecution of Kev, it was critical that the judge directed the jury to the main matters on which they needed to focus in this context. The failure by the judge to identify specific weaknesses in the identification evidence at any stage constituted a significant defect in the summing up such as to render the verdicts unsafe.
Without the I.D. evidence there would have been no case for Kev to answer.
8. Hearsay Evidence
The Judge refused severance for Kev to be given a separate trial from Miran.This allowed multiple hearsay evidence to be used in the trial against Kev as well as Miran. The ‘Hearsay’ evidence introduced by Stuart Trimmer QC, prosecuting, and allowed by Lord Justice Jeremy Cooke was unchallengeable. The evidence allegedly came from three witnesses, all living in Northern Cyprus, who did not come to the United Kingdom to give their accounts in person. Kev had never met nor spoken to any of these witnesses. The fourth witness that the prosecution did not use, gave a truthful statement shortly before the trial contradicting his first which he said had been created by Northern Cypriot Police who forced him to sign it. Unfortunately the other three witnesses could not be located before the rushed trial began. As there was no evidence available to Kev with which to challenge the hearsay, statement makers were not present and Miran stated that these were false accounts, it was impossible to defend against them.
Statements had told how Miran Thakrar, brother of Kev had confessed to killing three people. The alleged detailed confessions were made to people who could not speak English – and it was claimed that the story was told in hand signals as Miran can only speak English. These statements were withdrawn by the witnesses and true statements made after the trial. It was said by the CPS that two of the witnesses claimed family problems would prevent them coming to the UK, while another was said to be busy planning his wedding. The three witnesses have since stated that the reasons given during trial for non-attendance were untrue and their initial so called witness statements were falsified. Had the same been before the court in 2008, it is understood that the original statements would not have been relied apon, thus making the conviction to be ‘unsafe’
These false multiple hearsay statements would have gone through the lengthy and unreliable form of Chinese Whispers before reaching the jury. Miran Thakrar would somehow have had to explain using English and hand signals to Turkish speaking Northern Cypriots, who would then, allegedly, months later relay this to a Northern Cypriot Policeman, who would then send his written account to a translator who would translate it to English, which was then read by the prosecutor at the trial as accurate. This absurd process which was allowed to pass in court as evidence, is an extreme form of what is commonly known as ‘back translation’, and widely accepted as being flawed by linguist experts all over the world. As the jury did not have any means to assess it’s reliability, then given the factors pointing to it’s unreliability and it’s importance in the case, the hearsay should not have been admitted into court.
Kev could not confront the Northern Cypriot witnesses who were used to incriminate him. Therefore, no fair assessment of the reliablility of the evidence could be made by the jury.’Cross examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth’, said the famed legal scholar John Henry Wigmore. ‘The opportunity for cross examination…is critical to the integrity of the fact-finding process. Cross examination is “the principal means by which the believability of a witness and the trust of his testimony are tested”.
The decision to allow the Hearsay statements to be read caused irredeemable prejudice to the defendants. Kev was unable to call other witnesses at trial to dispute the hearsay as they were all members of Northern Cyprus or his co-defendants. In these circumstances, neither the opportunity for Kev to give evidence nor any direction to the jury could redress the disadvantage.
The Hearsay evidence has been so undermined by the new facts within the further statements that no conviction could be based upon that evidence.Without the false hearsay Kev would not have been put on trial.
There has been a lot of recent publicity about interpreters in the national, local and mainstream press. The problems which have emerged revolve around the accuracy of interpreting and whether the interpreter is sufficiently qualified to interpret from English to a foreign language and vice versa what may be highly technical words and phrases which lawyers habitually use in court.
Interpreting is not just saying what one person says to another, but may involve using specialist knowledge of the subject matter to explain the words used or the concept behind them.
The concept of metaphrase, of word-for-word translation, is an imperfect concept because a given word in a given language often carries more than one meaning; and because a similar given meaning may often be represented in a given language by more than one word.
The Northern Cyprus authorities, keen to improve relations with European Union countries in the hope of pushing through the reunification of the island, were bending over backwards to help the British police.
A Turkish Cypriot diplomat based in London, Serap Destegur, said: ‘We don’t want the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to have an image as a haven for criminals. Although there is no formal extradition treaty we will co-operate with the British authorities and did so in this case.’ They also provided British police, at their request, with forced false statements from the three witnesses in the absence of their legal team, without which no prosecution would have occurred.
The British police never saw these ‘witnesses’ or interviewed these ‘witnesses’. In fact they never made any attempt to do so. Nor did the ‘witnesses’ appear in court to give evidence.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) exists to ensure the treatment of witnesses and suspects and is crucial to the validity of their evidence. PACE not only was not followed in regards to the Northern Cypriot hearsay evidence, the British police deliberately failed to even meet with these witnesses, thus allowing the Northern Cypriot Police to use their wholly questionable methods in an attempt to secure false statements and conviction against the innocent. In a press interview after the trial by the lead investigating officer of the case, DCI Hanlon, the only thing he mentioned was how the hearsay had secured the convictions.
Statements extracted under duress, whether made by the accused or by third parties, used in a trial renders the proceedings as a whole automaticaly unfair and in breech of Article 6 according to Judge De Gaetano of the European Court.
The only evidence requested by the jury during deliberation were copies of the hearsay evidence which the judge wanted to give until legal argument forced him not to. However, he did read them out loud again to the jury. This was after 5 days of deliberation and shows how much weight the jury placed on these false statements.
In Ibrahim  EWCA Crim 837 Aikens LJ posed four questions that the court should ask itself in relation to the reading of such hearsay statements: (a) was there justification for admitting the untested hearsay (b) how important were the statements (c) how demonstrably reliable were they and (d) were the counterbalancing measures inherent in common law properly applied to ensure a fair trial.
As to (a), it is clear that the judge failed to make enquires such that would satisfy him that the untested hearsay as a last resort should go before the jury. The fact that each of the statement makers have since denied the accuracy of the statements attributed to them is proof of this failure. In Riat  EWCA Crim 1509, Hughes LJ said: ‘the critical thing is that every effort has to be made to get the witness to court’, but without the British Authorities even being in contact with the witnesses once, this requirement could never have come close to being satisfied in this case.
If Hertfordshire SOCA had attempted to make direct contact, the Northern Cypriot witnesses would have been willing to give evidence at the trial to the fact that the content of their original statements were untrue fabrications created by the Northern Cypriot Police.
As to (b), this hearsay was the decisive evidence and vital to the wrongful prosecution. The reliability of the hearsay was testable only under cross examination where questions could have been put as to the witnesses motives for making the statement, and how much pressure was applied by the notorious Northern Cyprus Police to coerce the ‘evidence’ out of them.
As none of the hearsay statement makers ever claimed to be suffering from fear or any threat apart from those being applied by Northern Cyprus Police, there was never a proper examination of their position. In Fagan & Fergus  EWCA Crim 2248 dealing with a witness who expresses reluctance to give evidence, the court said:
‘Whether or not the crown felt it a pointless exercise or that the usual familiar steps would so increase the pressure on [X] as to make it less likely he would give evidence, it would have been wise for the court to ensure he was brought…’
As the fear hurdle had not been cleared, this hearsay should never have been admitted and the fact that it was removed any possibility of it’s reliability to have been tested, which guaranteed an unfair trial.
Under PACE, s. 76, the long established rule by which D1’s hearsay statement can be used only as evidence against D1, and cannot be used against D2, has not been followed in this case. The Law Commission has said:
‘A hearsay admission is still evidence only against the person who made it, and a jury must be warned accordingly. A number of our respondents thought it extremely important that this principle be retained, and we agree’ (Law Com 245 at 8.96)
In R v Thorpe and Clarke  EWCA Crim 1128, Hughes LJ said when speaking of similar hearsay as in this case:
‘…we can see practically no circumstances in which a conversation of this kind, purportedly implicating a co-accused, would be admitted.’
9. Jury Deliberation
It is an accepted fact that both acceptance of information from ‘authority figures’ and ‘primacy and recency affects’ means non-experts, or laymen and women (i.e. the jury) are likely to give greater weight to the judge’s words, and especially those used during the summing up, since they will be the last words the jury will hear prior to retiring to consider the verdict. The judge, in this case, appears quite blatantly, to have ignored much of the factual evidence and, as a result, to have misled the jury. It was also devastating that for the short time spent actually covering Kev’s defence by the judge, several of the jury members had in fact fallen asleep.
The final trial lasted three and half weeks including 15 days of Jury deliberation. Unlike in the movies, the jury was not taken off to some secret venue when court was not sitting, night after night, deprived of television and newspapers or contact with the outside world; they went to their own homes every night.
The 12th juror, who was discharged after 5 days deliberation, had been the foreman. He asked to be discharged as he claimed his wife had been ill in hospital for months and he needed to be with her. He wrote a letter to the other jurors to persuade them to convict all defendants and wanted to leave it with them having given it to the judge first. Legal argument took place regarding the lawfulness of this. During argument, the judge, who was adamant the jury should see the letter stated, “I could simply refuse to discharge him and then they can all go back to the jury room, he can say what he wants and I can discharge him in half an hour’s time.’ After the argument the judge did exactly that. Adjourning the court for 45 minutes before discharging the juror. Miran was convicted soon after.
On Monday 11 August 2008 Kevan was convicted of joint enterprise by a jury which took over 60 hours of deliberation, spread over 15 days. He was convicted by a 10 to one majority, although the Jury were not aware that they could return a verdict of undecided as the judge refused to inform them, hence such a long deliberation. At least 3 of the jurors were crying upon hearing the verdict. The very fact that the jurors believed that they must reach a decision appears to be one of the main influences in such a decision being reached. His case did not have any clear cut evidence. There was no DNA, forensics, ballistics, or cell siting placing Kevan at or anywhere near the scene. False multiple hearsay and two questionable identifications were enough to wrongly convict and sentence to life with a 35 year tariff.
‘Crown Court Bench Book: Directing the Jury’, at 289-92 (March 2010).
(‘The first requirement of the direction to the jury is that they understand there is no burden on the defendant to prove that he was elsewhere. The prosecution must prove it’s case and that includes the need to prove that the defendant committed the offence’). Alibi is described as being a ‘defence’, though it is not really: it is merely putting the government to it’s full burden of proof. As with so many matters, the instruction that a jury must be given may seem clear to a judicial mind parsing the words, but it is actually fairly opaque to a juror who is listening to some interminable jury instructions. The judge is advised to tell the jury as follows:
‘If you conclude that the defendant’s alibi is true or may be true, then he cannot have participated in the attack on V and you must find him not guilty. If, on the other hand, you are sure, having considered the evidence carefully, that the defendant’s alibi is false, that is a finding of fact which you are entitled to take into account when judging whether he is guilty. But do not jump to the conclusion that because the alibi put forward is false the defendant must be guilty. You should bear in mind that sometimes an alibi is invented because the defendant thinks it is easier than telling the truth. The main question for you to answer is: are we sure that A and B have correctly identified the defendant as the man who wounded V?’
The jury are never told that they must disbelieve the alibi beyond a reasonable doubt and, if they have any reasonable doubt about it’s truth, they must acquit. When they hear that they can hold it against the accused if they disbelieve the alibi, they are likely to hear this to the exclusion of other instructions.
Reasonable doubt is glaringly obvious in this case but the jury were duped into believing that what was presented to them were the facts and evidence of the case when in fact, not a scrap of real evidence exists.
10. Joint Enterprise
Joint Enterprise is a charge used when prosecuting an individual proves difficult or impossible.
It is a doctrine of common law that was developed by the courts to allow more than one person to be charged and convicted at the same time. Often used in murder cases, the doctrine does not require proof that you intended someone to die or that you directly took part in their death. You only have to forsee that one of your group might intentionally cause someone else serious bodily harm and you can be found guilty of murder.
Speaking of Joint Enterprise, the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC stated: ‘This is a controversial and complicated area of the criminal law.’
Dr Ben Crewe, of the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University has said about Joint Enterprise that ‘The threshold for culpability is very low but the penalties are so high,’ and that using Joint Enterprise makes miscarriages of justice ‘more likely’. Dr Matthew Dyson, from Cambridge’s Faculty of Law supports this view reporting that ‘Absolutely it (Joint Enterprise) produces miscarriages of justice.’
11. Miscarriage of Justice
The term miscarriage of justice carries with it the inference of accident but also of death. There is a pressing need to investigate in detail how it has come about that there has been a form of death in this case – the death of justice – and who shall be found responsible.
Sandra Lean, author and researcher on the subject of Miscarriage of Justice is quoted:
‘Innocence is No Defence. In fact, being innocent is one of the biggest handicaps to the defence of an innocent person, because their ignorance of the system and how it works is used against them, time and time again.
For many people, being questioned in relation to a serious crime is not, initially, something to be afraid of. They proceed on the basis of the old maxim “I’ve done nothing wrong, so I have nothing to fear.” What these people don’t realise is that a police investigation does not, necessarily, exist to clear the innocent and find the guilty. It exists to allow police to access enough information to serve a conviction. There is a big difference.’
12. Criminal Injustice
Bethany Barrett, Professor of Political Science, said it is important to learn about the injustices that plague our criminal justice system today. ‘The thing about wrongful convictions that should make it important to everybody is that it can happen to anybody. It is not even about being in the wrong place at the wrong time; you can still be identified as being a perpetrator when you had nothing to do with the case at all…even if one doesn’t care about injustice in the criminal justice system, just from a self interest perspective, people should care.’
The daunting fact that when a prosecution is brought by the state, the resources available to the prosecuting authorities outweigh by far those of all but the most affluent defendants, in terms of investigative, forensic and legal back-up is one people are not aware of until victims of a miscarriage of justice themselves.
One of the most severe flaws in the criminal justice system is the blind persuit of conviction. There is a culture among prosecutors, a notch-on-the-belt approach to prosecution – where the more (people) you send to prison, the higher your status among peers. With that mentality, it is no wonder prosecutors overlook facts that may not support their case. The code for Crown Prosecutors directs them to ‘build the most effective prosecution case’, which will always press them into convicting ‘someone’ rather than the ‘perpetrator’.
The prosecuting counsel, with assistance from the Hertfordshire Serious and Organised Crime Agency, used extreme methods and dubious prosecution procedures pressuring witnesses or creating confusion in order to obtain the only ‘evidence’ which best suited their required outcome.
It became more important to charge and convict as quickly as possible than to worry about the real perpetrators or the safety of the public. Justice was seen to be done when in reality a massive injustice was unfolding.
The case from the beginning has been the subject of enormously intense media attention, almost entirely negative, speculative and prejudicial. Kev was not tried and convicted on ‘the evidence’, because, quite simply, there was none. Yet the treatment of the case by the media, and by those involved in the ‘investigation’ effectively closed off any chance of a fair trial, and Kev’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty was denied from the off.
When Kev’s conviction is assessed as a whole, it is not possible to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that a miscarriage of justice has not occurred.
It is a hallmark of our traditions, and the principle of administration of criminal justice, that an unfair trial cannot produce a safe conviction.
The evidence adduced in the course of the trial appears deeply suspect and worrying from a human rights standpoint, and that does not appear to meet the required standard of proof necessary for a criminal conviction.
The injustice done to Kev is fairly self-evident and yet his conviction still stands. Justice absolutely demands that Kev be declared innocent and wrongfully imprisoned. If innocent people are convicted the real perpetrators remain free.
13. Appeal for Information
Please help. Those who are yet to come forward and tell us what really happened in this case, Justice for Kev Thakrar may never be achieved if we do not hear from you. You may have heard someone talking about the case. You may have access to the records that with a few keystrokes would prove Kev’s innocence. You may know the people involved in this incident or described on this site. It is not too late. Kev is innocent and needs someone to help him prove it. ‘Foe evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing’ (Edmund Burke).
Anyone who has information that may relate to this case in some way, however seemingly distant, can write directly to Kev at:
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE,
Close Supervision Centre, HMP Wakefield, Love Lane, Wakefield, WF2 9AG
Or contact his solicitor:
Maslen Merchant, Hadgkiss Hughes and Beale Solicitors, 83 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8E