Murder conviction quashed for man who spent seven years in jail

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A YOUNG man who spent more than seven years behind bars for a murder he insists he did not commit had his conviction quashed by judges yesterday.

Sam Hallam, 24, was at the Court of Appeal in London to hear the announcement by Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Spencer that his conviction is “unsafe”.

Mr Hallam, who was convicted at the Old Bailey in 2005 of the murder of a trainee chef and sentenced to life, was dramatically released on bail by the three judges on Wednesday after prosecutors said they were not opposing his appeal.

His QC, Henry Blaxland, told the court that Mr Hallam, of Hoxton, east London, was the victim of a “serious miscarriage of justice”.

Mr Hallam was 18 when he was found guilty of the murder of Essayas Kassahun, 21, who died after being attacked by a group of youths on St Luke’s estate in Clerkenwell, London, in October 2004.

His family and friends have waged a high-profile campaign insisting he is innocent, with supporters including the actor Ray Winstone.

Mr Hallam sat in the public gallery with his mother Wendy Cohen as the judges gave their reasons for their decision. There was tumultuous applause and shouts of “justice” as the conviction was quashed.

Mr Hallam’s conviction was overturned in the light of fresh evidence relating to his alibi and identification.

His case came before the appeal judges after it was referred to the court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

His QC Henry Blaxland said there had been a “combination of manifestly unreliable identification evidence, the apparent failure of his own alibi, failure by police properly to investigate his alibi and non-disclosure by the prosecution of material that could have supported his case”.