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Cleared former prisoner Michael O'Brien
"There seems to be a catalogue of miscarriages of justice"
 real 28k

BBC Wales' Caroline Evans reports
"It took the Appeal Court judges just three minutes to make their decision"
 real 28k

Former BBC 'Week In Week Out' reporter Phil Parry
"There are still some serious questions for the police to answer"
 real 28k

Saturday, 18 December, 1999, 13:23 GMT
Public inquiry call into police force

Ellis Sherwood, Darren Hall, Michael O'Brien The Court of Appeal quashed their convictions

One of the men cleared of murdering a newsagent is calling for a public inquiry into the case and other investigations carried out by the South Wales force.

Murder convictions against Michael O'Brien, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood - the so-called "Cardiff Newsagent Three" were quashed on Friday.

The three were jailed for life more than 11 years ago for murdering newsagent Philip Saunders in Cardiff.

But after a nine-day hearing, the Appeal Court judges took just three minutes to make their decision to free the men.

Recent convictions secured by South Wales Police but overturned on appeal
the so-called "Cardiff Three" - jailed for the murder of prostitute Lynette White
the "Gurnos Three" - jailed for the murders of Diane Jones and her daughters Shauna and Sarah-Jane
Jonathan Jones - jailed for the murders of Megan and Harry Tooze
and the Darvell brothers - jailed for the murder of a sex shop manageress
Michael O'Brien now wants a full inquiry - headed by a High Court judge - to look into their case and other investigations carried out by the force.

"I want a totally independent review of the South Wales Police force's handling of our case and all the other miscarriages of justice," he said.

"They (South Wales Police) don't seem to learn from their mistakes."

The "Cardiff Newsagent Three" were released on bail last year after their case was taken up by the BBC Wales current affairs TV programme "Week In Week Out".

During the nine-day Appeal Court hearing, the judges heard that crucial confessions made to detectives, but since retracted by Darren Hall, could not be relied on because he was suffering from "anti-social personality disorder".

Michael O'Brien Michael O'Brien: Relieved at the outcome
The court was told Mr Hall was living a "Walter Mitty" fantasy life and showing some of the attributes of a pathological liar.

Even the prosecution's own psychiatric expert conceded that his admissions were "at risk of being unreliable".

Serious questions were also raised in court about the conduct of investigating officers from South Wales Police who were alleged to have shown a "systematic disregard" of the rules governing interrogation of suspects under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Ellis Sherwood Ellis Sherwood, freed by the Court of Appeal
Michael O'Brien said: "I'm not surprised at the outcome, really.

"I'm very relieved at the outcome, but saddened that it's taken 12 years to put this matter right."

He said the prosecution "had not produced one shred of evidence to suggest that any of us three were guilty".

He said he was considering legal action against the Crown Prosecution Service and South Wales Police.

The Police Complaints Authority said it was already involved in investigating the case which was the first to be examined by the PCA and the Criminal Cases Review Commission jointly.

South Wales assistant chief constable David Francis said: "We have noted the decision of the Court of Appeal in this case and await the judgment which we will consider carefully."

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See also:
16 Dec 99 |  Wales
Murder suspect's evidence 'unsafe'
13 Dec 99 |  Wales
Newsagent Three witnesses lied in court
07 Dec 99 |  Wales
Murder suspect 'handcuffed to radiator'

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