- What have the police done to follow up the issue, raised by the chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission? Professor Graham Zellick said that Mr B’s alibi evidence was subsequently found to be unreliable. Could this have been the ‘compelling new evidence’ Sussex police say they needed to reopen the investigation?
- Why was Geoff Williams, then Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex Police, apparently fully satisfied that Mr B was not the attacker? He told journalists “It should be noted that the whole Mr B issue has been considered by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Treasury Counsel which agreed there was no evidence to consider him the offender” (The same CPS pursued the case against Siôn Jenkins at an estimated cost of £10m over eight years. This might account for their reluctance to invest more public funds in investigating the murder.)
- Where is Mr B today?
The man known as ‘Mr B’ at the retrials and ‘Mr X’ at the second appeal is of central importance.
From the start of the investigation this person is known to have been in the vicinity of the Jenkins house at the time of the murder.
His behaviour at the time was obviously disturbed.
Evidence at the retrial points to the fact that he was a possible suspect. Yet, despite the fact that he tried to strangle a policewoman arresting him, the police failed to follow up this apparently credible lead.
He is associated with a key piece of evidence which simply could not be accounted for by the prosecution at the retrial and second appeal
An inexplicable fact
When Billie-Jo was murdered, a large piece of plastic was pushed deeply, and very forcibly, through one nostril right into the nasal cavity. This fact only became explicit at the time of the second appeal, when a scientist confirmed that the use of some kind of implement would have been involved. The behaviour has been identified as ‘deranged’; what is more, such a deliberate act would have taken some time.
This evidence added a new twist which further undermined the case against Siôn Jenkins. The prosecution claim was that the murder took place in a maximum time of three minutes. The additional time involved for this gratuitously bizarre act could not be included in that period. No link between Siôn Jenkins and this piece of plastic was ever established.
These facts are known:
- The presence of the plastic and its use is a clear indication of abnormal behaviour in the perpetrator.
- Mr B was discovered to have an obsessive interest in sealing up openings — often with bits of plastic. He did this to block out contamination that he feared, and to protect himself from being poisoned or gassed by imaginary enemies.
- From the outset Mr B was a suspect because of witness reports of his odd behaviour in and near the park
There must be a high degree of probability that these facts are linked.
A curious assertion
At the appeal in 2004 the following statement was made by Lord Justice Rose:
‘As to X, there is nothing in the material before us to suggest that this aspect of the matter renders the appellant’s conviction unsafe.’
‘It seems implausible that X could have walked from the park to the scene of the killing unobserved, arrived during the small window of opportunity in time, entered apparently occupied premises…and bludgeoned a girl with whom he is not shown to have any connection for no reason. There is no evidence that he killed her.’
- …that X could have walked from the park to the scene of the killing unobserved. The Jenkins house faces directly on to the park. A number of witnesses reported seeing Mr X in and around the park, including Lower Park Road itself, on the afternoon of 15 February 1997, at the relevant time. He was observed moving about that area shortly before the murder took place.
- …that X could have arrived during the small window of opportunity in time. That ‘window’ has been estimated as between 15 and 18 minutes, five or six times longer than the time in which, according to the police, Siôn Jenkins managed to carry out the murder in the vicinity of his two daughters and without any visible evidence.
- …apparently occupied premises. Anyone watching from the park could have seen Siôn Jenkins and his two daughters drive away.
- …a girl with whom he is not shown to have any connection . The day before the murder Mr X had been in Debenhams. Billie-Jo was also in Debenhams that day, choosing trainers . Staff there thought of this man as a weirdo. Several times during the past week he had bought a spoon for £2.50, and asked for a refund the following day. That Friday, he left behind in the restaurant some writings in the form of a letter to the governor of the World Bank in which he referred to paedophilia and the protection of children.
After the murder, his psychiatrist refused to allow him to be questioned by police, explaining that his client was floridly psychotic at the time of the murder of Billie-Jo.
That being so, it is hard to understand Lord Justice Rose’s assertion that “There is no evidence at all to connect Mr X with the crime.” It seems eminently plausible to suggest that the existence of a credible alternative suspect would be further grounds to render Siôn Jenkins’ conviction unsafe.
Following Siôn Jenkins’ acquittal in February 2006, the unanwswered questions about Mr B resonate even more powerfully.
In March 2004 the Appeal Court ruled that there should be a further investigation concerning a possible alternative suspect, as reported on the BBC website and elsewhere in the media. The same issue has been raised by this campaign on more than one occasion in the past. Since the second appeal the true significance of the individual then known as ‘Mr X’ has become very clear.
Four people reported to the campaign that Sussex police dismissed potentially useful evidence they reported at the time of the murder or very soon afterwards.
This included a sighting of someone covered in blood and paint running up the road near the Jenkins’ home at the relevant time; noises of someone in obvious distress rushing down the alleyway behind the Jenkins’ garden; a further sighting of someone behaving strangely in that road at around that time; a sighting of Siôn Jenkins at the time.
These concerned witnesses were simply sent away, or told told that the police already had the man who had committed the murder. One, who knew Siôn Jenkins, was surprised to be questioned about him.
How hard were the police really looking? In March 1997 their determination to charge Siôn Jenkins meant that other credible leads were not pursued.
Daily Mail — April 2004
A two page Daily Mail article, written by journalist Jo-Ann Goodwin, disclosed details offering a completely new perspective on the story of what happened when Billie-Jo Jenkins was murdered in February 1997. It also focused on Lois Jenkins, scrutinising her relationship with the police, questioning the allegations she has made, and analysing the nature of her undoubted influence on the case.
Sources very close to events are quoted by Goodwin. Their comments have the effect of bringing Sussex police, once again, right into the spotlight.
The Mail article highlights the way Sussex police chose to focus on Siôn Jenkins as their key suspect, despite substantial evidence about a much more credible suspect, identified, for legal reasons, as Suspect A.
The police case rested on the hypothesis that for some unknown reason, Siôn Jenkins suddenly flew into a rage and brutally killed Billie-Jo in a very short space of time. Having done so he instantly returned to a state of calm, with no visible sign that he had committed what the duty police surgeon at the time described as the most brutal murder he had ever attended in 26 years. The defence’s attempts to point out the flaws in this incredible tale were unsuccessful. The police version had a persuasive quality; logic was defeated by the appeal of a dramatic story.
However, an important fact has now been revealed in the article.
When Billie-Jo’s body was discovered, there were clear indications that her death was not simply the result of a volcanic outburst of temper on the part of her murderer, as the prosecution has always asserted. Some more complex and deeply disturbed impulse was very apparent. What was found at the scene of the murder was not the work of a few seconds.
The authorities began an immediate search for Suspect A. However, he was not found and arrested until nearly forty eight hours later. That period of time could have been critical in terms of evidence. At the time of his eventual arrest he could not be interviewed because of his highly unstable mental state. The expectation was that he would be interviewed in due course. In fact, this never actually happened.
While an outraged public was demanding an arrest, an unexpected development had immediate value for those desperate to identify a killer. The article quotes someone ‘close to the murder hunt’ as saying “The forensic reports came back. Billie-Jo’s blood had been found on Siôn’s fleece. That was it.The police went for it hook line and sinker”
There was considerable and significant evidence concerning Suspect A — but inexplicably, it was never followed up.
Instead, with the existing suspect — Siôn Jenkins — in effect as a ‘bird in the hand’, random details were shaped into a gratifying, illogical, but powerful fiction.
Jo-Ann Goodwin reports one ‘highly placed source’ as saying: “If Siôn Jenkins is released, it will not be on a legal technicality. He will walk free because it has become obvious that the killer is another man.”