The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has agreed to pay more than £100,000 in compensation to a man who spent six years in prison after being wrongly convicted of perverting the course of justice in a gangland murder investigation.
The award was agreed only after it was acknowledged that police surveillance evidence, now subject to a public-interest immunity certificate, demonstrated that Conrad Jones, from Coventry, could not have been in Nottingham on either of two days in 2006.
The complex series of related cases began with the 2005 shooting of Clinton Bailey in the car park of a Coventry pub. Several people were convicted of his murder.
Jones, now 50, of Wyken, Coventry, was found guilty in 2007 – after two earlier, abortive trials – of intimidating a witness to the murder trial in an attempt to prevent her from giving evidence.
He was said to have bribed and threatened her at a face-to-face meeting in Nottingham on 1 or 2 June 2006. He was convicted and jailed, subsequently serving six years in prison.
On appeal in 2014, however, his conviction was overturned on the basis that surveillance material showed it would have been impossible for Jones to have made the journey to and from Nottingham on those dates.
Overturning his conviction at the court of appeal in 2014, Lord Justice Pitchford observed: “We can only regard the failure to make the disclosure [of the surveillance material] in early 2007 that was subsequently made in June 2013 as a lamentable failure of the prosecutor’s obligations.”
The law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which represented Jones in his compensation claim, said: “[He] had always strongly denied the charges against him.
“He was released on licence in 2012, still protesting his innocence. It was only as a result of a subsequent arrest for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, an offence he was acquitted of, that it fell to different lawyers to review the disclosure that had taken place back in 2006-07.
“They came across surveillance material which, in their view, undermined the original prosecution and should have been disclosed back at that point in time. The substance of that material was then disclosed (the actual material being subject to public-interest immunity).”
Sasha Barton, Jones’s solicitor, said: “It is clear that the CPS and prosecution counsel had in their possession, both while my client remained on remand in prison awaiting trial and at the time of my client’s trial, surveillance material which showed he could not realistically have met with and bribed [the witness] not to give evidence.
“They knew it was relevant, they knew it undermined the prosecution case and strengthened Mr Jones’s defence and they knew that the law required them to disclose it.
“To discover years after the event that the CPS, on the advice of highly experienced lawyers, has knowingly and repeatedly failed to comply with the criminal law on disclosure is shocking, and raises very serious questions which go right to the heart of public confidence in the criminal justice system and the legal profession.”
Jones said: “This has been a truly horrendous ordeal for me and for my family. As a result of being locked up for six years for something I did not do, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which has had a real impact on my day-to-day life.
“I’m grateful to my family and friends who have supported me through this ordeal and continue to support me, in particular my wife and two sons. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to all those people who have worked so hard to ensure that the truth came out about the way the CPS has behaved. They should never have purposefully withheld evidence and been able take away six years of my life.
“I am damaged by what has happened, but I want to put it all behind me now and get on with the rest of my life in peace.”
Maslen Merchant, a solicitor at the law firm Hadgkiss, Hughes & Beale, represented Jones in his successful criminal appeal.
A CPS spokesperson said: “The CPS has agreed to settle Mr Jones’ civil claim without admission of liability. The terms of the settlement are confidential.”
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