- gives a timeline of events identified through the judgement
- summarises key points in the judgement
- highlights areas of concern raised by the judgement
Details of the judgement can be viewed here.
- 15 Feb 1997
- Billie-Jo Jenkins is murdered
- 16 Feb 1997
- Annie and Lottie Jenkins interviewed by police on video
- 18 Feb 1997
- PC Bruce, who attended the scene of the murder three days previously, makes his first notes about Siôn Jenkins’ comments and behaviour immediately after the murder.
- 22 Feb 1997
- Discovery of blood spattering on Siôn Jenkins’ clothing
- 24 Feb 1997
- Siôn Jenkins arrested and interviewed in presence of solicitor.
- 25 Feb 1997
- Siôn Jenkins released on bail. Police decide to tell Lois Jenkins about blood spattering. Pocket book entry reads “Told them to feed into Mum.”
- 26 Feb 1997
- Police spend two hours convincing Lois Jenkins that her husband had murdered Billie-Jo.
- 3 Mar 1997
Peter Gaimster, a neighbour, tells police that on 25 Feb [a week previously] Annie had changed her account of events on the day of the murder.
Lois Jenkins tells police that Annie had volunteered more information
- 4 Mar 1997
- Lois Jenkins gives further information to police about Annie’s version of events.
- 7 Mar 1997
- Lois Jenkins makes statement to police alleging violence by Siôn Jenkins.
- 13 Mar 1997
- Siôn Jenkins rearrested and charged with deception.
- 14 Mar 1997
- Siôn Jenkins charged with murder
- 17 Mar 1997
- Police consult Dr. Bentovim, a consultant psychiatrist, and Mrs Bentovim, a social worker and family therapist. Advice given orally that Annie’s thoughts had been reconstructed by her father and now need to be deconstructed.
- 20 Mar 1997
- Police officers speak to all four daughters in the presence of Lois Jenkins. The family’s social worker Ian Vinall, is not present. They tell the girls that:
- there is strong evidence their father has murdered Billie-Jo
- their father had lied about his qualifications to get his present job
- their father was violent to their mother and to them.
- 21 Mar 1997
- Bentovim report confirms verbal advice given previously.
- 17 Jul 1997
- Lois Jenkins goes to police with more details of a conversation with Annie about events of 15 Feb.
- 27 Nov 1997
- Lois Jenkins returns to police after committal heaing to report further discussions with Annie about events on 15 Feb.
- 22 Dec 1997
- Lois Jenkins has conversation with a police officer about Lottie’s recollections of 15 Feb.
Key Areas of the Judgement
The judgement has the following structure:
- Summary of the grounds of Appeal There are ten in all, dealt with as five issues in the judgement [see points 5–9 inclusive]
- History to Date of Trial
- At the Trial
- The Children Issue
- Ruling in relation to DC Hutt
- Other Points in the Summing-up
- The Confusion Issue
- The Fresh Evidence Issue
This makes it clear that on the basis of known timings, Siôn Jenkins would have had, at most, three and a half minutes in which to arrive, go into the house, commit the murder and set off with the two girls on the trip to Do it All.
The outline states that ‘the blood spattering was the crux of the prosecution case’.
History to Date of Trial
This section of the judgement includes the statement that Siôn Jenkins was the last known adult to see Billie-Jo alive and the first known adult to discover her body. ‘If anyone else had killed her they must have stepped into the garden to so sometime after 3pm on a February afternoon, and then disappeared quickly and virtually without trace.
There had been some talk of a prowler and there was a suggestion that that at a gate at the side of the house, which was shut when they left for Do-it-All was open when they returned,
but that was all.’
Lottie’s statement of 16 Feb, given very soon after the murder but not used by the police, clearly stated that the side gate had been closed when they left, and open when they returned from Do-it-All. There are several documented sightings of someone behaving suspiciously in the area of the Jenkins home around that time on that date.
The judgement then refers to Siôn Jenkins’ own ‘untrue’ explanations of what he did, construed by the prosecution to be his attempts to get his daughters away from the scene of his crime and give himself time to think.
If he was as devious as the prosecution claimed, surely he would have given himself more time by staying away from the house for much longer than the 15 minutes he was away.
The judgement then mentions PC Bruce whose evidence was challenged by the defence at the original trial because he did not record his conversation with Siôn Jenkins until 18 Feb, three days after the murder. The judge at the trial told the jury that they had to disregard the officer’s evidence ‘unless they were sure the appellant said what the officer alleged, but if they were sure then the question arose as to whether the appellant was mistaken or whether he was lying to try to distance himself from the murder.’
How could the jury possibly be ‘sure’ about the truth of PC Bruce’s allegations?
This section also describes Siôn Jenkins as being ‘very reluctant to take the fleece jacket which was later found to be spattered with blood.’
It is indisputable that the spattering was a) invisible to the naked eye and b) not identified as relevant evidence until a week after the murder. How can this observation of Siôn Jenkins’ apparently suspicious behaviour on 15 Feb. have any credibility?
The judgement comments ‘Plainly, it was most unsatisfactory’ that the defence had served two reports from forensic scientists as late as 9 April 1998, when the trial was due to begin on 22 April. The defence explained that this lateness was caused by the prosecution’s delay in disclosing all the unused evidence. The judgement, however, continues ‘We have not investigated that issue…’
The prosecution was not only ready to delay the handover of unused material, but then itself obtained further reports from Mr. McAughey and from Professor Southall (who, during the time of the appeal, was suspended pending investigation into his professional conduct.)
At the Trial
Dr. Hill, the pathologist, said death is ‘more likely to be instantaneous’ in a case like this where there has been severe brain injury. He also accepted that movement of the body could have released trapped air.
Siôn Jenkins’ evidence makes it clear that he moved Billie-Jo when he found her. Mr. Campbell, the neurosurgeon who gave evidence at the appeal, emphasised that death in these circumstances would be an extended process; Cheyne Stokes respiration might well take place.
The Children Issue
At the trial in 1998 the defence claimed that the behaviour of the police in relation to Annie and Lottie indicated a plan to influence the children to give evidence hostile to their father. They did so by trying to persuade Lois Jenkins of her husband’s guilt on 26 Feb 1997, and then in their conduct at the debriefing on 20 March.Their behaviour meant that the evidence of two critical alibi witnesses was being improperly influenced, and that Siôn Jenkins could not have afair trial.
The judge rejected the defence’s points because ‘there was no evidence of bad faith’. He further refused to infer that the police had ‘brainwashed Lois Jenkins into believing her husband had committed the murder. The judgement addresses the issues raised by the defence, and concludes “There was nothing unworthy or shameful about the conduct of the police“.
The judgement does, however, agree with the trial judge’s reservations about the 20 March debriefing session. He expressed some concern that the police officers conducted the session without the family’s social worker being present, that they referred to Siôn Jenkins’ alleged deception in connection with his job, and that they raised the issue of violence towards the children and their mother. [Earlier in this section, there was reference to the fact that Lottie had already been told about the blood spattering by her mother. Lottie also became distressed by the accusations of violence against her father; she denied that he had hit her mother and left the room in tears.]
Indeed, the judgement states ‘we would be inclined to express our concerns about this aspect of the investigation rather less circumspectly’.
This statement makes it absolutely clear that police behaved inappropriately. In view of this, it is astonishing that the appeal judges then assert ‘They were entitled to seek to persuade Mrs. Jenkins that her husband was the killer. On the basis of finding Billie’s blood on his clothing, the case reasonably appeared to them to be overwhelming. They knew she had further information to give them about the appellant…’
How could the case be ‘overwhelming’ when there was no motive and hardly any opportunity for Siôn Jenkins to carry out the murder? The invisible blood spots constituted the only potential evidence for the police.
How could the police possibly know Lois Jenkins had ‘further information’ to give them?
Where was Ian Vinall, the family’s social worker, during that interview? What subsequent action was taken by Social Services?
The judgement then responds to the criticism of the judge who, in his summing up, referred to the failure of the defence to call the children as witnesses. The defence submission that police conduct had made it impossible for them to do so is rejected with the statement that ‘…the judge was entitled to find that if the children had given evidence which was adverse to their father, this would not have been brought about by the conduct of the police.’
In similar vein, the failure by police to use the video recordings of the children’s interviews is explained in the judgement as follows. ‘The prosecutor [i.e. Mr. Camden Pratt QC] was entitled to regard the accounts given by the children in video interview as confused or wrong, and therefore unbelievable…’
To the lay observer, he might be seen as usurping the role of a jury.
Ruling in relation to DC Hutt
At the trial the judge had ruled as inadmissible evidence from this this officer because his notes were not of the appellant’s words, and because he had no opportunity to confirm its accuracy. He had subsequently admitted in evidence part of the same officer’s evidence from a later date which made reference to the occasion previously held to be inadmissible.
The judgement holds that there was no basis for excluding DC Hutt’s evidence.
Other Points in the Summing-up
The judgement dismissed these criticisms of the trial judge’s summing up:
- he failed to remind them that Siôn Jenkins’ evidence had referred to the fact that he had moved Billie-Jo’s body
- he failed to deal adequately with the issue of whether there had been blood on the steering wheel of the MG.
- he did not remind the jury that there had been no evidence of sexual misconduct despite the prosecution’s allusions to ‘a complex relationship’.
- he failed to point out to the jury that in order to reach the murder weapon Siôn Jenkins would have had to pass other potential weapons much closer at hand.
The judgement asserts: ‘It is not incumbent upon a judge in summing up to remind the jury of every point made’.
In such a high profile and complex case, where rumour and innuendo had been significant factors, it would seem reasonable to expect that a jury would be given as much guidance as possible to enable them to reach a just verdict.
The Confusion Issue
This centred on the confusion at the trial between minute volume and peak flow. It was not resolved and was carried forward into the summing up. The judgement acknowledges that the jury may have been misled on this issue, as the judge was, but states ‘We doubt whether,even in isolation, the mistakes made by the experts rendered the conviction unsafe. It is not, however, necessary to decide this issue since we have now heard a good deal of fresh evidence…’
The Fresh Evidence Issue
This section of the judgement opens with observations about the powers of the appeal court to receive fresh evidence. The possible options are identified comments explore possible interpretations of precedent. It then discusses the work carried out by Professor Denison, and its interpretation by the other experts involved. It is very technical, dependent on the fine detail of various experiments.Much hinges on the issue of the hyper-inflation of lungs, and whether the nature of any possible obstruction.
The judgement says ‘We do not question for one moment the integrity of Professor Denison, or the validity of his experiments for what they are. But his exhalation theory does not fit the facts of this case, since it depends on the existence of an obstruction in the nasal valve. We are satisfied from the evidence of Dr Hill that the only obstruction was in the lower airways.’
The judgement ends with a review of the points which were held to be conclusive.
During two weeks of detailed submissions, the fresh evidence was deemed to be relevant> and credible. In view of this, and in the light of the other disturbing facts which emerged, it is difficult to understand the statement that ‘a doubt induced by the fresh evidence would not be reasonable doubt’.
Can it really be claimed that, in the Lord Chief Justice’s words, ‘there is no reasonable doubt about the safety of the conviction after consideration of all the evidence’ ?
If so, what is reasonable doubt?
A small matter of integrity…
- November 1999
Lord Bingham, The Lord Chief Justice, ruled (on the subject of judicial conflicts of interest) that “in any matter which could arguably be said to give rise to a real danger of bias, it was generally desirable that disclosure be made to the parties in advance of the hearing.’
He also stated that “ where … the facts relating to the alleged bias had been disclosed to the parties it was right that attention should be paid to the parties’ wishes.”
- December 1999
- Mr. Justice Penry Davey sat as one of the judges hearing the appeal, in spite of his direct personal involvement with the school concerned in the deception charge made against Siôn Jenkins, a charge which remains on file.
- January 2000
- Following failure of the appeal and the refusal to proceed to the House of Lords, Lord Justice Kennedy admitted that although Mr. Justice Penry Davey had himself raised the issue of possible bias,there had been no disclosure. Yet he dismissed as ‘absurd’ defence objections to that failure to disclose potential bias.