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Monday, October 25, 1999 Published at 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK


Police accused in murder case appeal

Ivy Batten: Beaten with a hammer

A man jailed for life 11 years ago for the murder of an elderly woman may have been the victim of a police plot to frame him, a court has heard.

Brian Parsons, now 39, has always denied beating 84-year-old Ivy Batten to death at her home in Shute, Devon, in 1987.

His lawyers are asking three judges at the Court of Appeal in London to rule that his murder conviction was "unsafe".

His counsel, David Martin-Sperry, told the court Parsons was convicted at Exeter Crown Court "principally on the basis of what has, until now, been seen as overwhelming forensic evidence".

[ image: Crucial evidence: Fibres from hand-knitted gloves]
Crucial evidence: Fibres from hand-knitted gloves
The evidence included the discovery in Parsons' car glove compartment and in his coat pocket of fibres from a pair of distinctive hand-knitted gloves, the court heard.

Mr Martin-Sperry told Lord Justice Beldam, sitting with Mr Justice Garland and Sir Oliver Popplewell, that "extensive material had been kept from his defence at the time both of his trial and of his subsequent appeal".


Counsel added: "It will be argued that this material would have allowed the defence to investigate before the jury whether these fibres had been placed where they were found - in common parlance 'planted' - by some over-zealous and dishonest police officer or police officers who wrongly believed this appellant to have been responsible for the murder."

Parsons, a labourer with no previous criminal record, had his murder conviction referred back to the Court of Appeal following a damning report on the police investigation into the murder.

Mr Martin-Sperry said Miss Batten was "viciously" murdered during what had all the hallmarks of a "professional" burglary. She was beaten about the head with a hammer.

The appeal case continues.

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