The miscarriage of justice watchdog has just referred a 2008 sexual assault conviction after discovering compelling evidence that the person arrested at the scene of crime was not the same man later convicted at court. According to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the man arrested gave the name, date of birth and address of a second man to the police and was later released on bail. Several months later, that second man – known as Mr H – was tried at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court, convicted and placed on the national Sex Offenders Register. The police realised their error in 2009 and that Mr H was not responsible for the crime. ‘Attempts made to resolve this situation at that time were unsuccessful and Mr H remained convicted of the offence,’ the CCRC said.
In April 2008, a woman had been sexually assaulted by a man in Wakefield town centre. She was able to identify her attacker to nearby police officers, who immediately arrested the man. This man was later released on bail. Mr H only applied to the CCRC in September 2020, saying that he was not the man who had sexually assaulted the victim. The watchdog discovered that the fingerprints taken from the man identified and arrested at the scene did not match those of Mr H.
According to the watchdog there was ‘no evidence to link Mr H to the offence and the police now accept that he was not to blame’. ‘We knew quite quickly that this was an unusual case as the police accepted that Mr H was not the man responsible,’ commented Helen Pitcher, the CCRC’s chair. ‘Although there are a number of unanswered questions about how this situation occurred, the important fact is that there is absolutely no evidence that Mr H committed the offence. If we had been alerted to this case sooner, it seems likely that this would have been resolved years ago.’