The Current situation

The focus of the campaign now is on demanding that Sussex Police should re-open the investigation into Billie-Jo’s murder.

Nothing can give Siôn Jenkins back the life stolen from him during his years in prison.

The case against him was never credible. There was no motive. There was no opportunity. There was a falsified CV, though,and spectacularly twisted logic made this reason enough to go to any lengths to show he must be guilty of murder. Instead of examining the detail of what actually happened on that day, the focus of the case became obscure and complex science, and in July 1998 he was convicted on the evidence of so called expert witnesses.

Four years later, after detailed scrutiny, the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case for a second appeal. In August 2004 that appeal succeeded on the grounds that the scientific evidence was flawed. The conviction was quashed, and Siôn Jenkins was acknowledged to be an innocent man.

Yet in the subsequent eighteen months he had to endure two further high profile trials before he was finally acquitted of murder and the prosecution effectively acknowledged the Court of Appeal verdict that his original conviction had been unsafe.

For nine years Siôn Jenkins lived in the shadow of injustice. There has been no recognition of the grief and loss he has experienced; instead, he had to bear the stigma of being condemned as a murderer — a charge he resolutely denied over this entire time.

Siôn Jenkins’ second retrial ended on 9 February 2006. It had lasted three months, during which the prosecution case seemed no more coherent than at the original three week trial in 1998 and the first retrial in 2005.

In the end the jury failed to reach a majority verdict despite nearly forty hours of deliberation. The prosecution evidence could not convince them of his guilt.

Siôn Jenkins’ conviction was overturned on appeal in 2004. The fact that not one, but two retrials were called reflects the system’s total reluctance to admit that it could have made a mistake.

The jury at a retrial might — understandably — approach their task feeling that there must be something pointing to guilt — or why would there be a retrial at all? Afer all there’s no smoke… By the time a second retrial is reached the next jury must feel even more strongly the weight of their responsibilities. By this stage things are loaded in favour of the system : the majesty and force of the British legal system must outweigh the protestations of one individual.

In spite of everything, the jury, having considered the evidence for an immense length of time, were not sufficiently convinced by the prosecution case to convict Siôn Jenkins.

It is a tribute to the jury’s courage that despite the pressure they were under, they honestly acknowledged their inability to reach a majority verdict. The law — impartially — then took its appointed course.

The outcome was justice. Yet because of media distortion - which was especially shameful after Siôn Jenkins’ acquittal - the taint of innuendo was allowed to linger.

Review

A man was serving a life sentence for the murder of Billie-Jo Jenkins. On the face of it, society had the retribution it expects in these circumstances, and the demands of the legal system were satisfied. Over several years the processes of that same system eventually led to his acquittal.

The system remains fallible, though, as demonstrated by two chilling facts:

  • Siôn Jenkins was innocent; the wrong man was serving a life sentence in the first place and has never received any recompense for what he suffered.
  • Today the real killer has - literally - got away with murder.

Complacency is no substitute for justice : we should all feel uneasy about was allowed to happen.

In every respect, the case of Siôn Jenkins can only undermine public confidence in the workings of the criminal justice system.