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Robin Makin, solicitor
"The evidence was totally unreliable"
 real 28k

Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 14:26 GMT
Appeal over hanged man's conviction

The case of a man hanged for murder more than 50 years ago has been referred to the Court of Appeal.

George Kelly was convicted of murdering manager Leonard Thomas during an armed raid on the Cameo Cinema in Liverpool.

Kelly, 28, from Liverpool, was convicted at Liverpool Assize Court on 8 February, 1950, and sentenced to death.

His appeal against conviction was refused by the Court of Appeal on 10 March the same year, and he was hanged 18 days later.

But on Thursday it was announced that Kelly's case has been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

This case is an indictment of the appalling justice system and policing that went on in Britain immediately after the war and which cost a man his life.

Robin Makin, solicitor
Kelly's family is now hoping that his conviction will be quashed and his name cleared.

Their solicitor, Robin Makin, said: "Mr Kelly's relatives have been campaigning tirelessly to clear his name, through different generations, for over 50 years.

"This case is an indictment of the appalling justice system and policing that went on in Britain immediately after the war and which cost a man his life.

"The police and the courts believed it was more important to secure a conviction in order to reassure the general public than to properly investigate a crime."


Kelly and his co-defendant Charles Connolly were charged with the murders of Mr Thomas and cashier John Catterall on 19 March, 1949.

The two men were shot dead in cinema in the Smithdown Road area of Wavertree, Liverpool.

Mr Makin said Kelly had been tried for the murder of Mr Thomas, while Connolly, who has since died, had pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, "essentially to save his life".

Kelly's family have always insisted Kelly was innocent.

Mr Makin's solicitor father Rex first saw Kelly's late brothers about the case before he was hanged in 1950, but efforts over the years to get the conviction quashed were unsuccessful.

'Travesty of justice'

It was not until the CCRC was set up in 1997, and the case referred to it in 1998, that the family stood a fresh chance, Mr Makin said

"It's not the first and it probably won't be the last of this sort of case getting referred back to the Court of Appeal," he said.

"I know of two other people who were hanged who have had their convictions quashed, but this might be the oldest case so far to make it to the Court of Appeal."

He added he was hopeful of the case's chances of success, as the CCRC would not have referred it to the Court of Appeal unless it was sure it had got a chance.

"The family are pleased is has been referred, but want to maintain their privacy for obvious reasons.

"Justice is what this is about. An innocent man was hanged.

"It was a travesty of justice and one of the most controversial cases in Liverpool legal history or even, I believe, in the history of murder."

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