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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 17:59 GMT
Murder case that rewrote textbooks
Analysis
By Jon Silverman
Legal affairs analyst

Sion Jenkins
Allegations of violence were not revealed in the trial of Mr Jenkins

The case of Sion Jenkins is sure to enter the legal textbooks.

To be tried three times for murder is thought to be unprecedented.

For two of those trials, Mr Jenkins was given bail.

That is highly unusual in a murder case where the defendant is invariably remanded to prison.

Though there is nothing in English law to prevent a fourth trial, legal experts feel that, even though the police have said the file remains open, there is no reasonable prospect of Mr Jenkins appearing before a murder jury again.

Ex-wife's claims

With the conclusion of this second re-trial, it can now be revealed that Mr Jenkins's first wife, Lois, made allegations of long-term domestic violence against him at the High Court in 2004.

The allegations were made subject to a contempt order which meant that neither of the juries at the re-trials was told about them.

However, two of Billie-Jo's school friends gave hearsay evidence at the second re-trial that he had been violent towards his foster daughter.

Questions will undoubtedly be asked of the prosecution's decision to seek a second re-trial

Should the allegations of serious domestic violence have gone before a jury?

Changes brought in under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 allow evidence of a defendant's bad character to be adduced in open court in certain circumstances.

QC and part-time judge, Diana Ellis, believes it was right that the allegations about Sion Jenkins were withheld from the jury.

"I can't see how this would have helped them decide the central question as to whether he murdered Billie-Jo. It would simply not have been relevant and might well have clouded matters."

No financial figure has been put on nine years worth of police investigations and three separate trials

Questions will undoubtedly be asked of the prosecution's decision to seek a second re-trial.

The chief crown prosecutor of Sussex has said she felt there was a realistic prospect of a conviction.

Some fresh scientific evidence was put forward during the trial. But the Jenkins case appears to be an example where the scientific experts on either side appeared to cancel each other out, leaving the jury unable to reach even a majority verdict.

No financial figure has been put on nine years worth of police investigations and three separate trials. It will be considerable.

But that is a minor consideration set against the requirements of justice.

And though Sion Jenkins has not been acquitted by a jury but by a judge, he is unequivocally innocent in the eyes of law.


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