Monday, 29 December 2008

A Killer at Liberty to Kill Again

On 16 June 1998, 79-year-old Leonard Harris and his wife were attacked at their home in Finchley, north London.

It was twelve days before they were discovered. Remarkably, they were both still alive. However, Leonard died five months later from head injuries he received on the day he was attacked.

Leonard and Gertrude had both been battered about the head by a career criminal called Michael Weir and, on 12 July 1999, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for this crime.

A pair of gloves had been found in the Harris' home that were stained with both their blood and Weir's so the case wasn't too difficult to prove.

However, at a later appeal hearing, a judge ruled that DNA samples linking Weir to the gloves were legally inadmissible as they had been taken by police investigating an earlier drug offence for which Weir was acquitted, and, on that basis, should have been destroyed.

For this reason, the original judgement was quashed and a murderer walked free. He was freed despite the fact that a second, legally admissible, DNA sample had been taken which proved that he WAS the killer.

Weir spent less than two years in jail for committing this crime.

The Law Lords later decided that the appeal court judges had got it wrong. Lord Steyn's actual words were:

"I would therefore rule that the Court of Appeal's rulings in the reference, as well as in the appeal of Weir, were wrong."

Not only did they get it wrong, the Crown Prosecution Service was hoping to take the case to the House of Lords for a final appeal, but missed the deadline for lodging papers by ONE DAY. A CPS spokeswoman said:

"We did make an administrative error which meant we missed the deadline by one day... We are looking at our procedures to see if anything needs changing."

The pensioners' son, Frank, wrote a letter of complaint to the Director of Public Prosecutions which said:

"Since the debacle concerning the Court of Appeal ruling you've caused me and my family considerable anguish, mental trauma and depression that I had hoped I had overcome following the initial jury verdict. It makes me even sicker to feel that the perpetrators in your organisation are seemingly getting away scot-free."
At a later time, Frank added:

"They are totally incompetent, 100 per cent incompetent. Nothing else can happen now... I'm furious and want somebody's head to roll as I feel the way we have been treated is disgusting."

Weir is still free.

Hereisa photo of a murdered pensioner and a killer at liberty to kill again.

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