Justice achieved

Siôn Jenkins’ second retrial ended on 9 February 2006. The retrial had lasted three months.

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

His acquittal came at the end of an unprecedented legal battle which saw him face two retrials after his second appeal was upheld by the courts. Nine years had been stolen from him. His life and the lives of others close to him were trampled over by media sources eager for a big story, but not a true one.

The public’s appetite was eventually sated. Ready for novelty, they shifted their attention to other tragic stories with a new casts of characters. Sussex police made predictable comments about the case remaining open and — having spent years and an unprecedented sum of public money on pursuing the wrong man — took no further action whatsoever.

After the verdict Sarah Jane Gallagher, Sussex Chief Crown Prosecutor stated : “We used every method at our disposal to the full…”

Even after two protracted attempts, when the police — by their own curiously transparent admission — had tried ‘every method’ possible to prove their case against him “two juries did not reach a verdict of guilty”

This is the statement released by The Crown Prosecution Service:

The acquittal of Sion Jenkins for the murder of his foster daughter, Billie-Jo Jenkins, has brought to an end one of the most difficult cases Sussex Crown Prosecution Service has handled. Sussex Chief Crown Prosecutor, Mrs Sarah Jane Gallagher, said: “This is the third time Sion Jenkins has faced trial for murder and after hearing all the evidence the jury has not been able to reach a decision. The role of the CPS is to apply the Code for Crown Prosecutors; that is to examine the evidence and determine whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings. I am satisfied that the CPS fulfilled its duty under the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the decision to take Mr Jenkins to a second retrial was correct. The CPS has considered the case again as a whole and decided Sion Jenkins should not face a further retrial. He has therefore been formally acquitted.I would like to commend the witnesses for their courage in being prepared to come to court once again to give evidence. Our thoughts today are, of course, with Billie-Jo's family.” CPS Press Statement 09/02/2006

Siôn Jenkins’ conviction had been overturned on appeal in 2004. The fact that a retrial was called reflects the system’s reluctance to acknowledge that it had 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 for Siôn Jenkins, who had been wrongly convicted .

As yet there is no justice for Billie-Jo, whose killer still has not been identified.