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Monday, February 15, 1999 Published at 14:29 GMT


Arson conviction overturned

Annette Hewins has had her conviction overturned

A woman jailed after an arson attack that killed a mother and two daughters has been freed.

Delith Lloyd reports on the case
Annette Hewins, 32, and her niece Donna Clarke, 29, were convicted of arson with intent to endanger life by Cardiff Crown Court in 1997. Both convictions were overturned.

Clarke, who received a 20-year sentence, now faces a retrial on the same charge. She was refused bail.

[ image: A mother and two daughters died in the fire]
A mother and two daughters died in the fire
But the Court of Appeal freed Mrs Hewins, who had been sentenced to 13 years' jail for allegedly supplying the petrol for the attack.

Referring to Mrs Hewins, Lord Justice Kennedy said "there was no sufficient evidence to prove the case against her, so in her case it would not in our judgement be right to order a retrial".

Diane Jones, 21, and her daughters Shauna, 2, and 13-month-old Sarah-Jane died in the arson attack on their council home in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, in October 1995.

Compensation plan

Mrs Hewins, a mother of four, said as she left the courtroom: "I want to go home to my babies."

Lisa Holland reports for BBC News
Her solicitor, Adrian Clarke, said there would be moves for compensation.

"This has had a terrible effect on her family and on her health," Mr Clarke said. "Her children have been growing up and her youngest doesn't really know her."

He added that Mrs Hewins is suffering from clinical depression, caused by her wrongful conviction.

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