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 DNA test 'could free convicted murderer'

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PostSubject: DNA test 'could free convicted murderer'   Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:06 pm

By ALAN McEWEN
THE case against a man convicted of raping and murdering his ex-wife in Edinburgh 20 years ago is to be re-opened.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has accepted an application by John Robertson to have his conviction reviewed following the rediscovery of forensic evidence.

Robertson, known as Jocky, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of raping and killing Selina Parkinson at her flat in Wester Hailes in 1988.

The SCCRC is now set to conduct DNA tests on forensic samples taken from the victim.

If the watchdog discovers the samples fail to link Robertson to the murder, its officials could apply to the Crown Office for a fresh appeal to be held.

The SCCRC was asked to re-open his case four years ago, but was told by lab experts from Lothian and Borders Police that semen samples recovered from the victim had been destroyed.

Campaigners later learned that the samples, which they believe could clear 63-year-old Robertson and perhaps identify an alternative suspect, had been found again.

Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo) today welcomed the decision to review the evidence and hoped for a resolution as "quickly as possible".

Mojo coordinator John McManus said: "We're very pleased that SCCRC have decided to re-open the case. Now we are waiting to hear when DNA testing can be carried out.

"These tests could prove his innocence and could point the way to a real killer. If the tests show that the semen samples did not come from Jocky, we will move to have him released on bail while he waits for an appeal hearing.

"If Mojo had not pressed on with this case and found samples did exist, Jocky would probably have been forgotten about without a chance to clear his name. At least he now has that chance."

Robertson, who is being held at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, has always maintained his innocence.

Mojo has attacked the conviction as no forensic evidence linked him to the crime. DNA testing was not available at the time.

Campaigners from the group Justice For All uncovered the existence of the samples after studying legal papers. They found that swabs taken from the victim had been sent to the Central Research Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire, for testing before being sent back to Edinburgh.

But when SCCRC re-opened the case in 2004, the force's Forensic Science Laboratory claimed the l samples had been destroyed.

A police spokesman said it would be "inappropriate to comment" while the SCCRC was carrying out its review.

A SCCRC spokesman said: "We have accepted Mr Robertson's application to have his case reviewed."
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