Relatives of a man murdered in 2005 have joined with campaigners supporting the release of the man convicted of his killing to call on the miscarriage of justice watchdog to re-open the case. At a protest outside 10 Downing Street earlier in the week, the Bishop of Stepney described the support of the brother of Robert Darby, stabbed to death in a pub carpark East London, for Jason Moore, currently serving a life sentence, ‘an extraordinary act of solidarity’.
‘There is only one thing certain in this case, Robert Darby was murdered August 24, 2005 in Ilford,’ the Rt Reverend Joanne Grenfell told the demo. ‘A man, Jason Moore, was sent to prison for the murder, but in an extraordinary act of solidarity, both his family and the family of Robert Darby have come together to fight against that conviction.’ She said the two families were ‘united… in the belief that the conviction is unsafe’.
The focus of the campaigners was the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) which rejected Moore’s application at the end of 2021. ‘We are here today to protest at the way that the CCRC has so far refused to listen to the evidence,’ Rev Grenfell told supporters including Tim Darby, Robert’s brother, Michael O’Brien of the Cardiff Newsagent Three and Kevin Lane presently fighting to overturn his conviction for the murder of Robert Magill. ‘That evidence so overwhelmingly shows this is an is an unsafe conviction.’ You can read the text of the bishop’s speech below.
Jason Moore’s sister, Kirstie Moore said that the Andrew Malkinson case ‘proved what we’ve been saying for years. The CCRC aren’t investigating cases.’
‘It was very obvious in their response that they haven’t read [our application] properly,’ she continued. ‘They didn’t read it. They dismissed it. They weren’t going to investigate it.’ She said that the watchdog had ‘made a glaring mistake’ that the ‘only two witnesses agreed on a particular fact’ – see below.
The victim’s brother: ‘It’s a matter of principle.’
In an interview with the Justice Gap, Tim Darby insisted he always believed that the police had gone after the wrong person. After his brother’s death, Jason Moore fled to Spain fearful of reprisals. He came home in 2012 and reported to the police in the hope that he would be able to clear his name.
Tim Darby claimed to have confronted two police officers immediately after the 2013 trial when Moore was sentenced to life. He recalled attending the police station to pick up his late brother’s effects. ‘I was wading through his stuff, and I said to the two coppers: “You put the wrong geezer away. Do you know that?”’ He said the officers threatened to arrest him and that the next day he was visited in the early hours of the morning by two uniformed officers and two CID who served him a ‘reverse Osman order’. In other words, he claimed that he was put on notice about threats that he might might make to Moore’s family or witnesses.
Darby also recalled introducing himself to Jason Moore‘s sister, Kirstie, outside the Old Bailey when the trial ended saying that her family were ‘never in any danger’ of retribution from him. ‘I said: “I know your brother didn’t do it – they just wanted a ‘body’.” Asked why he supported the campaign, Tim Darby said: ‘It’s a matter of principle. You don’t stick a geezer away for nothing.’
Charles Thomson, a journalist with Newsquest investigations, has been looking into the case for two years. He recently interviewed the prosecution’s star witness. Two eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Robert Darby fighting with a man outside the Valentine pub; however, only one – Abdul Ahmed – claimed to have seen the man exit the passenger side of the car with a knife. Ahmed attended a photo ID parade weeks after the stabbing where he was shown Jason’s photograph but did not recognise him and, instead, identified a thin-faced man with short hair.
Both witnesses claim the man in the fight was the same height as Darby (5 foot 11) and wore a blue zip-up sports jacket – Moore is 6 foot 4 and wore a different colour top on the night. Ahmed said the attacker had a shaved head; whereas Moore has long, wavy brown hair.
Ahmed’s crucial identification happened seven years later when the investigation reopened. He was asked to attend a second photo line-up where he was shown Jason’s photograph again and this time identified him as the stabber.
‘Campaigners had actually asked the CCRC to go and reinterview Abdul Ahmed – they refused to do – and the justification that they gave was that the CCRC said that testimony was corroborated by the other eyewitness,’ Thomson told the Justice Gap. ‘That was incorrect.’
After the CCRC rejected the case, Thomson tracked Ahmed down and recorded a telephone interview. ‘He suddenly became very angry and started shouting at me down the phone. And that was when he made this comment: “I was just walking past. It was the blink of the eye. How am I supposed to remember these things? I was drunk.”.’ According to the journalist, Ahmed claimed to have told the police he was drinking that morning – however that was never mentioned in court or in evidence disclosed to the defence.
‘I struggle to understand how the jury convicted him in the first place,’ Thomson says. ‘And that’s the worst position for someone to be in in a miscarriage of justice – the evidence is all there but the jury just did something mad because in order to overturn it, the courts want “new evidence”.’
‘How can you be expected to take your new evidence to a body of people that are there to protect the innocent but have shown themselves to behave in the same manner as the people that they are there to protect you from?’ asked Kirstie Moore.
The CCRC always requires new evidence or a new argument. ‘New evidence is not an endless tree,’ Moore said. ‘We’ve only got two witnesses in this case. The evidence we are about to give to them will be, really, the only evidence.’
Kirstie wants to use Jason’s case as a ‘magnifying glass’ to show the public the state of the justice system. ‘It’s not just about Jason, it’s about a broken system.’
‘Let the evidence speak’
Reverend Joanne Grenfell’s speech – in full
‘There is only one thing certain in this case, Robert Darby was murdered on August 24, 2005 in Ilford. A man, Jason Moore was sent to prison for the murder but, in an extraordinary act of solidarity, both his family and the family of Robert Darby have come together to fight against that conviction.
These two families are united despite their very different perspectives in the belief that the conviction is unsafe and we are here today to protest at Jason’s imprisonment without parole because he is adamant of his innocence. We are here today to protest at the way that the CCRC has so far refused to listen to the evidence.
That evidence that so overwhelmingly shows this is an unsafe conviction. Evidence that is so overwhelming that anyone who reads it can hardly believe that it has been allowed to stand to keep an innocent man in prison these last few years.
We are here today to say let the evidence speak. What is the evidence? In short, Jason Moore is 6 foot 5, broad shouldered with a big head of dark hair. CCTV evidence from the day shows that he was wearing a black hoodie with gray stripes on the sleeve. In comparison, the description of the murderer was one of around 5 foot 11 thin face with short, receding hair and wearing a blue zip-up jacket.
The key prosecution witness who claimed to identify Jason as he quickly passed by has since said that he was drunk. An identity parade was handled really badly by the Metropolitan police and, finally, no forensic evidence has ever linked Jason to this murder, forensic evidence that might clear his name has been lost and access refused to the Moore and Darby families.
When evidence is ignored, justice is denied. If justice is denied to one man, then we are all unsafe. Our justice system needs to be fair, transparent and open to challenge and review. So let the evidence speak. Today, I am calling for justice to Jason Moore and I am calling on the CCRC to listen and to look again at this case with new evidence. I am calling on them to let the evidence speak.’