Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 14:39 UK

Judges quash robbery conviction

Billy Mills
Billy Mills was cleared after new DNA evidence emerged

A man jailed for a masked bank robbery has had his conviction quashed after judges ruled he had suffered a miscarriage of justice.

Billy Mills was found guilty of a gun raid on a Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Partick, Glasgow, in May 2007.

The 42-year-old was jailed for nine years last August and freed on bail in February pending an appeal.

At the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh, judges said there was reasonable doubt after new DNA evidence emerged.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, said: "The new evidence confirms all of our reservations about this conviction. We agree that there is clearly reasonable doubt."

He told an emotional Mr Mills: "We conclude that there has been a miscarriage of justice and allow the appeal. You are free to go.

Speaking after the ruling Mr Mills said: "I am just delighted with what happened. I have been found innocent of a crime I never committed.

"I have spent two years of my life going through this. Justice has prevailed."

Even without this new evidence this was a prosecution that stood or fell by eyewitness identification alone
Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill

Mr Mills was convicted after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow last year.

The court heard that a masked robber pointed a handgun at staff and customers in the raid on the bank on Dumbarton Road in Patrick. He demanded cash before getting away with £8,216.

Mr Mills had denied the offence, claiming he was home at the time, and in his defence incriminated another man, convicted criminal Michael Absalom, for the robbery.

Mr Mills' trial had relied on identification evidence from eyewitnesses and from police officers who viewed CCTV stills.

But several witnesses also testified that the robber spoke with a foreign accent, with two saying he sounded South African.

Following his conviction fresh DNA evidence emerged linking South African, Absalom, to the raid.

Forensic evidence

DNA matching his profile was found on door stop from the bank.

Lord Gill said: "Even without this new evidence this was a prosecution that stood or fell by eyewitness identification alone.

"That is a form of proof that has been shown to be, in some cases, a dangerous basis for a prosecution, as history shows.

"There was no forensic evidence of any kind against the appellant. The robber's face was partially masked."

Absalom, 38, was called as a defence witness at Mr Mills' trial.

The former events manager was jailed for eight and a half years last year for robbing an American Express office in Hope Street, Glasgow, and an RBS branch in Troon, Ayrshire.



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