Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 15:38 UK

Female assault conviction quashed

Falkirk Sheriff Court
Mr Ballingham was wrongly convicted of the attacks at Falkirk Sheriff Court

A former care worker convicted of assaulting two women in separate attacks in 2005 has been cleared after a new witness was discovered.

David Ballingham, 58, from Falkirk, was found guilty of attacking a 40-year-old woman at the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk Sheriff Court in May 2005.

At the same trial he was also convicted of assaulting a 35-year-old woman and given 120 hours community service.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has overturned the original verdict.

The decision follows the discovery of a witness by the commission who described seeing a man in his twenties running away from the scene of the canal attack.

In a written report to the Appeal Court, trial sheriff Craig Caldwell said that had the witness's evidence been led at the 2005 trial, it would have given him reasonable doubt about Mr Ballingham's guilt, and he would have been acquitted.

Mr Ballingham, who has always insisted he was innocent, said the convictions cost him his reputation and his job as a nursing assistant at Kilean Hospital in Stirling.

'Various grounds'

He added: "The last three years have been a nightmare for me.

"I was convicted at Falkirk Sheriff Court of two terrible crimes of which I was totally innocent.

"The allegations made against me came soon after my wife Mary died after 34 years of marriage."

Defence solicitor Andy Bryson said Mr Ballingham had claimed he was a victim of a miscarriage of justice on two grounds.

The first was that the original verdict was unreasonable due to weakness of identification evidence and that the Crown had failed to disclose material evidence that would have helped the defence case.

After an initial appeal failed, his claim was referred by the Court of Appeal to the commission who have now declared: "Having investigated the various grounds of review, the commission believes there may have been a miscarriage of justice in respect of both these grounds."

On the strength of that, another appeal was launched which was uncontested by prosecutors, resulting in not guilty verdicts in both cases.


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