https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/1 ... -forensic/
A former postman who was wrongly convicted of attempted rape is suing West Mercia police after it emerged that the force had failed to detect another man's DNA on the victim's clothing.
Victor Nealon spent 17 years in prison before his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2013.
Mr Nealon’s lawyers claim investigating officers misled the Crown Prosecution Service and the Criminal Cases Review Commission over the strength of the case against him by stating the victim’s clothes had been tested and nothing of note had been found.
However, Mr Nealon’s lawyers had the clothes tested in 2010 and an unknown male’s DNA, believed to be a saliva stain, was found on the victim’s blouse and bra. Mr Nealon’s DNA was not found on the clothes.
This new evidence was the key reason why Mr Nealon’s conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Despite having his conviction overturned he has been refused compensation and is suing the government in a critical test case being considered before the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule imminently.
The lawyers claim Mr Nealon was targeted by the police based on a number of previous sexual convictions for offences including indecent assaults and because they had no other suspects. They claim officers failed to test the clothes.
Mr Nealon was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of seven years for attempted rape but ended up serving 17 years because he refused to admit to the crime or take part in rehabilitation courses.
He is pursuing a civil claim against the chief constable of West Mercia police for malicious prosecution arising from what his lawyers describe as a “skewed investigation” and is seeking £1m in damages.
In 1996 a woman was attacked on her way home from a nightclub in Redditch. Mr Nealon’s lawyers claim the police failed to obtain CCTV from the nightclub which could have shown their client was not at the club that night.
Witness statements taken at the time of the attack described the attacker as a man with a lump on his forehead. Mr Nealon argues he did not match the description of the attacker.
Mr Nealon claims that he volunteered to provide a DNA sample on several occasions but despite a sample eventually being taken it was never sent for testing by the investigating officers.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has apologised to Mr Nealon for the failures in forensic testing. In a letter sent to Mr Nealon from the then chair of the CCRC, Richard Foster, he wrote that the commission “could and should have identified that there were forensic opportunities that had not been explored and that had the potential to make a difference to your case.”
He added that the CCRC’s “understanding of the positon with regards to forensic evidence at trial…was mistaken and/or incomplete”.
Mr Nealon also has concerns about the ID parade that was carried out by the police.
His lawyers argue that the ID parades breached police rules because the seven witnesses were allowed to sit together before the ID parade and the investigating officer, DC Mitchell, was waiting outside the room. The rules state officers in charge of investigations should not be involved in ID parades to avoid influencing the proceedings.
Detective Superintendent Damian Barratt, Head of Major Investigations for West Mercia Police, said: "There is an on-going legal claim relating to this case and it would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment at this time."
Mark Newby, the solicitor acting for Mr Nealon, said: “Five years on from his release our client has still to receive a penny in compensation for the 17 years that he wrongfully spent in prison. He should never have been prosecuted for this offence, never mind convicted of it, and regrettably he is now having to go to court yet again to establish it.”