Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

'JP attack' man clears his name

Jamie Sneddon
Jamie Sneddon taped a conversation where James admitted his guilt

A man who wrongly spent 10 months in jail for wounding a former magistrate has said it was the worst experience of his life.

Jamie Sneddon, 31, from East Sussex fought for almost 10 years to clear his name before his conviction for unlawful wounding was quashed on Friday.

"There is nothing worse than being locked behind that door thinking, 'what am I doing here?'" he said.

Former JP Ian James was sentenced to 15 months in jail for perjury in 2007.

Self-employed plasterer Mr Sneddon, of Newhaven, was sentenced to 21 months in jail following a retrial at Croydon Crown Court in December 2000 and served 10 months behind bars.

Three court of appeal judges last week overturned the conviction on the grounds that it was unsafe.

Admitted lie

James was injured with a glass in an altercation with Mr Sneddon and his brother in December 1999 over a Christmas wreath which Mr Sneddon admits was removed from his front door.

Lady Justice Hallett said the case depended to a large extent on the word of James, also from Newhaven, who was a magistrate in Lewes.

He claimed Mr Sneddon had produced a stick and threatened him but later admitted that was a lie.

Mrs Justice Hallett said James now accepted he was the one who introduced the stick "and therefore provoked the violence".

The court heard how matters came to light by chance in 2005 when Mr Sneddon contacted a carpet cleaning business run by James about work he wanted done at his home.

Ian James (picture from Kent News and Pictures)
Ian James was jailed for 15 months in 2007 for perjury

Mr Sneddon then recorded a conversation with James in which he admitted hitting his brother with the stick.

The judges also quashed Mr Sneddon's conviction in relation to the theft of the wreath.

Father-of-three Mr Sneddon told BBC South East he could never accept his conviction.

"A lot of the other guys are content, they are like, 'oh well, this is what happens' but I was like, this shouldn't be happening.

"It was awful. At the time I contemplated suicide".

His wife, Elizabeth, said she always believed him.

"I have been with him for years, so I know whether to believe him or not," she said.

"But it was hard sitting there listening to this man standing up there lying."

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Mr Sneddon fought for almost 10 years to clear his name



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