The miscarriage of justice watchdog has referred 750 cases since it was set up 23 years ago to investigate cases of alleged wrongful conviction. The case concerns the conviction for sexual assault of Ahmed Mohammed which was referred on the basis of a match on the DNA database revealing another possible attacker. The Criminal Cases Review Commission reckons that on average it has referred one case for appeal every eight working days
Ahmed Mohammed was convicted of indecently assaulting two women in separate incidents in 2004. In 2002, a jury decided that, because of mental health issues, he was not fit to plead in a full criminal trial and a trial of the facts took place in which Mohammed played no part. He denied having anything to do with the indecent assaults.
In spite of alibi testimony from a member of his family, the jury concluded that he had carried out the indecent assaults. The judge made a hospital order under the Mental Health Act and he was detained in hospital and his name added indefinitely to the Sex Offenders Register. In 2004, when his mental health had improved, he faced a full trial, pleaded not guilty but was convicted. The judge imposed another hospital order.
In 2017 Mohammed applied to the CCRC. The CCRC commissioned DNA testing which resulted in a male DNA profile being revealed which revealed a positive match on the national DNA database. ‘When the CCRC investigated that person’s background, it was found that he had been local to the area in which the attacks occurred,’ said the CCRC. ‘Further, contemporary police records suggested that he was a good match, and arguably a better match than Mr Mohammed, for the descriptions that the victims had given of the offender. He also had a conviction for a different kind of sexual offence committed in Tooting in 2003.’
The CCRC stresses that the new DNA evidence found by the CCRC does not prove that this man committed these or any offences; however, in their view, it passes the statutory test and raises a real possibility that the Court of Appeal will now quash his conviction.
750 CCRC referrals
Ahmed Mohammed is the 750th case to be referred to the appeal courts by the CCRC since it was set up in 1997. According to the CCRC, criticised for its lack of referring cases in recent years, on average it has referred one case for appeal every eight working days.
Of the 750 cases referred:
- 656 were conviction referrals and 94 were sentence only
- 159 murder convictions
- 11 manslaughter
- 129 sexual offences
- 77 drug related offences
- 54 robbery cases
- 11 driving offences
- four kidnapping cases
- More than 80 involved young people aged 21 or under
- In more than 70 cases the applicants were women.