[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 12:48 GMT
Appeal success for raid 'insider'
Graham Huckerby with his ex-partner Luci Roper
Luci Roper was among supporters wanting Graham Huckerby's release
A security driver jailed for helping armed raiders steal 6.6m from his van has won an appeal against the conviction.

Graham Huckerby, 45, of Greater Manchester, had served nearly three years of a 14-year sentence.

He was convicted as the "inside man" in the robbery of cash and cheques from his Securicor van in Salford, in 1995.

Mr Huckerby will be released on bail while the prosecution decides whether to seek a retrial.

Speaking before the ruling was officially confirmed on Tuesday his ex-fiancee Luci Roper said the family would have the "best Christmas ever".

Mr Huckerby's solicitor Maslen Merchant said he was "absolutely overjoyed" at the result, following three years of work on the case.

My mum already looks 10 years younger - she thought she was never going to see Graham in her house again
Graham Huckerby's sister Susan Kelly

But he said his client was still "extremely anxious" at the prospect of having to face a third trial 10 years after the event.

An acquaintance of Mr Huckerby's - James Power, 62, from Bury - was also jailed for 14 years for being an accomplice in setting up the raid.

Both men were granted bail after having their convictions quashed in a judgement handed down by three judges at the Court of Appeal, in London.

Judge Lord Justice Potter said it was "in the interests of justice" to consider new medical evidence given at the appeal about Mr Huckerby's state of mind during the robbery.

"Having done so, we are not satisfied as to the safety of the conviction," he said.

'In a daze'

The court also set aside confiscation orders made against the men of 50,000 each or 15 months in prison.

No one else was ever convicted for the robbery, nor the stolen money recovered.

Supporters of Mr Huckerby, a former police officer, have always maintained he was made a scapegoat after a long and expensive investigation by Greater Manchester Police.

Superintendent David Brown, of GMP's serious and organised crime unit, said they would discuss the findings with lawyers and crown prosecutors before deciding whether to apply for a retrial.

(It) seems a gross failure of the criminal justice system
Dr Andrew Green, Innocent

"It would be inappropriate for GMP to comment further at this stage," he said.

Mr Huckerby, from Prestwich, was first arrested in 1999 and convicted seven years after the robbery, following a retrial in 2002.

His sister Susan Kelly said the family, particularly her 76-year-old mother Ruth, were "ecstatic" at the news of his release on bail.

"You hope for the best, but expect the worst. Graham is just in a daze, he says he won't believe it until he walks out of those gates.

Daughter

"It's hard to put into words how we feel now. We've been in limbo since Graham was arrested, " she said.

"My mum already looks 10 years younger. She thought she was never going to see Graham in her house again."

Ms Roper said Mr Huckerby hadn't seen his daughter, now 21, since 1999, after his ex-wife gave evidence for the prosecution in his trial, and had never seen his grandson.

Much of the retrial and appeal focused on Mr Huckerby's actions during the robbery, when his van was held up at the Midland Bank Clearing Centre, Salford, on 3 July 1995.

Graham Huckerby and James Power
Mr Huckerby and Mr Power were painted as partners in crime

Lawyers at the appeal argued he had co-operated with the robbers - who later blindfolded him and tied him up - due to fear following a raid seven months previously in which his colleague was beaten and stabbed.

Expert witnesses said he had been found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which had begun after the first robbery.

Among Mr Huckerby's supporters were campaigning groups Innocent and the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (MOJO).

Dr Andrew Green, a criminologist who founded Innocent, said they agreed with police that the raid had involved an "insider" but always maintained they had got the wrong man.

"The fact the police have got absolutely no one for this crime and have not recovered a penny of the money seems a gross failure of the criminal justice system."




SEE ALSO:
The inside man or just a victim?
16 Nov 03 |  England


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific