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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 14:25 GMT
Ice Cream Wars duo freed for appeal
TC Campbell and Joe Steele
Campbell (left) and Steele leave the court
The two men convicted of what became known as the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars murders have been freed pending the outcome of a new appeal.

Thomas 'TC' Campbell and Joseph Steele, who have been in prison for 17 years, were granted interim liberty by three appeal judges.

Both men have been serving life sentences for the murder of six members of the Doyle family, including a baby, after a fire attack on their home in Ruchazie, Glasgow, in April 1984.

My daughter will have her daddy home for the first time in nearly five years

TC Campbell
Their case has been referred back to appeal judges by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which has been established to deal with alleged miscarriages of justice.

The men have consistently denied being responsible for one of the most notorious crimes in recent Scottish history.

During a 27-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow, the jury had heard how the Doyle deaths happened amid a struggle for control of ice cream van businesses in the city's east end.

The men received interim liberation when they had their cases referred to appeal judges five years ago by the then Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth.

Ruchazie fire
Six people died in the flat fire

That move came after a witness who gave crucial evidence at the trial said he had lied.

But by a majority, three judges ruled new evidence should not be heard in February 1998.

The case was referred to the commission and after a legal battle, which saw the commission go to court to force the Crown to hand over papers, it has now been sent to appeal judges again.

On Tuesday, a procedural hearing took place at which judges were deciding how the appeal should continue.

The decision to free the men was greeted with joy by their families and supporters, who were in court for the brief hearing.

Shotts Prison

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, sitting with Lord Maclean and Lady Paton has given defence lawyers two months to prepare the grounds of appeal for the two men.

Lord Gill said: "I grant interim liberation to Campbell and Steele."

The two men later emerged from the court, smiling and greeting relatives.

Campbell said: "It's definitely about time. Everybody knows we are innocent.

Jim Steele
Jim Steele: Hopeful of success
"I think we are going home for a bite to eat and just to say hello to people who we haven't seen for a long time.

"My daughter will have her daddy home for the first time in nearly five years.

"Freedom at this time of the year means even more so."

Steele said: "It's the best day of my life."

His brother, Jim, 47, said both men were hopeful they would be out of prison for good.

He said: "Last time, their hopes were dashed, they were out for 15 months - that doesn't fit the criteria of a guilty man to return himself to custody. This time, I think they will get out."

The two men have staged a high-profile campaign to try to prove their innocence.

Campbell has embarked on several hunger strikes while Steele escaped from prison on a number of occasions.

The BBC's Reevel Alderson
"They were convicted of one of Scotland's most notorious murders"
The BBC's Colin Blane
"Thomas Campbell and Joseph Steele claimed they had been framed"
See also:

30 Nov 01 | Scotland
Appeal hope for 'Ice Cream Wars' duo
03 Oct 01 | Scotland
Families' hopes for 'Glasgow Two'
10 Jul 00 | Scotland
New move in ice cream wars case
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