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 DNA find sparks bid to clear convicted sex killer's name

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PostSubject: DNA find sparks bid to clear convicted sex killer's name   Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:09 pm

Published Date: 28 July 2008
By ALAN McEWEN
A MAN convicted of raping and murdering his ex-wife in Edinburgh 20 years ago is mounting a bid to clear his name following the rediscovery of forensic evidence.
John Robertson 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 Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) re-opened his case four years ago, but was told by lab experts from Lothian and Borders Police that samples from the victim had been destroyed.

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

Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo) has now submitted an appeal to the SCCRC to re-examine the case and a decision is expected next week.

Robertson, now 63, is being held at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital under the Mental Health Act, but maintains his innocence.

Mojo coordinator John McManus today condemned the criminal justice system for "failing" Robertson twice. He said: "There was no forensic evidence linking him to the crime, only evidence placing him near the scene. That included a bus driver who came forward six weeks after the body was discovered.

"This forensic evidence was never presented in court. Although DNA wasn't available at the time, blood tests were. I believe it was suppressed because it didn't tie in with the prosecution's case.

"Then, years later, campaigners tracked down these samples only to be told by Lothian and Borders Police that they had been destroyed. It was only after the Crown Office checked that they were suddenly found again.

"This is a man's life and they just seem to be playing games with it."

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 potentially crucial samples had been destroyed.

After Mr McManus contacted the Crown Office to verify they were gone, he discovered that samples had been retained.

A police spokesman said it would be "inappropriate to comment" while the SCCRC had yet to make its decision. A SCCRC spokesman confirmed the case was being reviewed but said it could not comment at this stage.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Crown will ordinarily only consider providing access to material which has been gathered as part of an investigation and proceedings to a legal representative acting on behalf of a convicted person who is pursuing an appeal."


A BATTERED BODY . . AND DRUNKEN BOASTS IN A CAPITAL PUB


SELINA Parkinson's battered body was found in an advanced state of decomposition in the bedroom of her Wester Hailes Drive home on June 7, 1988.

Pathologists roughly dated the time of the murder to about "four or five weeks" earlier.

She had last been seen alive on April 22 when a witness claimed to have spotted her outside her flat with a man. The prosecution said the man was her former husband and that he must have been her murderer.

Witnesses at the trial said John Robertson, who was 43 at the time, had boasted of leaving someone in a pool of blood when he appeared in a pub in Broughton Road hopelessly drunk the following day.

But he has always protested his innocence and said he had not seen his wife for two years.

He said he lived with another woman with whom he had a child. Robertson was sent to Carstairs State Hospital after suffering a mental breakdown while behind bars.
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