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The BBC's Danny Shaw
"This case hinged on the scientific evidence"
 real 28k

Friday, 17 December, 1999, 17:26 GMT
Hammer murderer loses appeal

Ivy Batten Ivy Batten was beaten to death with a hammer

A man jailed for life for the vicious hammer murder of pensioner Ivy Batten at her Devon home has lost a second appeal against his conviction.

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

Brian Parsons Parsons denied killing the 84-year-old
He asked the Court of Appeal in London to rule that his murder conviction was "unsafe".

His lawyers alleged police may have planted crucial evidence to construct a false case against him.

But the Court of Appeal in London rejected allegations that fibres from gloves worn by the killer were planted by police officers in the glove compartment of Parson's car and his coat pocket.

'No doubt'

"We are left in no doubt about the safety of the conviction and we dismiss the appeal," said Lord Justice Beldam, sitting with Lord Justice Garland and Sir Oliver Popplewell.

Parsons, a labourer from West Sussex, had his first appeal dismissed in October 1990, but earlier this year the case was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The move followed a year-long inquiry by Hampshire Police into the actions of Devon and Cornwall officers.

Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable John Evans said after the decision: "I have always sought to reassure the public that the original investigation into the murder of Ivy Batten was conducted thoroughly and with the utmost integrity."

It bore all the hallmarks of a fictional account conceived by those with the talent to embellish a threadbare storyline
The judge
In a statement Mr Evans added: "During this second appeal hearing, serious allegations were made attacking the honesty and integrity of police officers and other witnesses.

"Devon and Cornwall Constabulary is not surprised that their Lordships have rejected those allegations, and the honesty and integrity of those police officers and witnesses have been vindicated."

Miss Batten's great niece, Janet Batten thanked the appeal judges "for their considered verdict in this the latest, and hopefully the last, appeal".

She thanked Devon and Cornwall Police for their "immense support" over the last 12 years, adding: "We have always believed in their honesty and integrity.

"We ask you all not to lose sight of the fact that my aunt was brutally murdered in her own home.

"In these difficult times we remember Ivy and hope that with this outcome she can now rest in peace," she said.

'Struck her seven times'

In court Lord Justice Beldam said Miss Batten was murdered by a burglar who struck her seven times on the head with a hammer.

The weapon and a pair of gloves were found in a nearby field.

Parsons could provide no explanation for the presence of the wool fibres, or the fact that fibres matching a sweater recovered from his car were found on the cuffs of the gloves.

The case was the subject of three television programmes produced for West Country Television by John Kiddey.

House Ivy Batten's home in Devon
He teamed up with private investigator and former London policeman John Rigbey.

They suggested the hammer and gloves had been "mishandled" by the local police constable and that the officer's wife was involved in a police conspiracy to invent evidence implicating Parsons.

The judge said a witness called during the appeal to support these allegations was "reluctant and uneasy" when asked to repeat on oath what he had said in a written statement.

"We are convinced he had neither a sufficient grasp of the underlying facts involved in the story nor the ability and imagination to devise it," said the judge.

"It bore all the hallmarks of a fictional account conceived by those with the talent to embellish a threadbare storyline."

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See also:
25 Oct 99 |  UK
Police accused in murder case appeal

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