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Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Published at 21:52 GMT


Robbery conviction overturned

Doubt over DNA evidence led to conviction being quashed

Criminal charges brought against Scotland Yard detectives have resulted in the conviction of a man jailed for 14 years for armed robbery being overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The BBC's Graeme McLagan reports on the case
George Ellis, 38, from east London, had claimed during his trial that a Flying Squad officer had planted evidence against him.

After an appeal hearing in London on Tuesday, Lord Justice Rose, sitting with Mr Justice Maurice Kay and Sir Patrick Russell, ruled that his conviction was unsafe.

Lord Justice Rose said at Mr Ellis's trial there was DNA evidence against him in the form of saliva said to have been found in two masks - evidence he said was planted.

The judge said the Flying Squad officer who "alone had taken the saliva samples from the masks" was arrested and charged last summer with offences involving dishonesty. Committal proceedings against the officer are expected to take place shortly.

Doubt over DNA

The Crown took the view that the DNA evidence was the most damning piece against him and in the light of subsequent events it could not seek to uphold the conviction as being safe.

The court also heard that 25 members of the same squad had either been charged or suspended or would have been suspended if they had not already retired. None of those charged has yet been tried and cannot be named.

Mr Ellis was convicted at London's Woolwich Crown Court in September 1997. He was sentenced to a total of 14 years for robbery, unlawful wounding and having an imitation firearm with intent following a 37,000 raid on a Thomas Cook bureau de change in Chingford, Essex, in June 1996.

Mr Ellis left the Royal Courts of Justice surrounded by supporters. He had earlier been released on bail pending the appeal.

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