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Man convicted of murder: 'I am innocent, this is a miscarriage of justice'

PUBLISHED: 06:32 23 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:02 23 November 2019

The Scales of Justice  Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

The Scales of Justice Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Archant

He spent 11 years in prison for the brutal murder of a shopkeeper he is adamant he didn't commit.

Labour's parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, Sandy Martin, spoke in favour of Oliver Campbell in the House of Commons this year. Picture: ASHLEY PICKERINGLabour's parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, Sandy Martin, spoke in favour of Oliver Campbell in the House of Commons this year. Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING

Yet even though the state continues to view him as a killer in the eyes of the law, Oliver Campbell is determined to prove his innocence - however long it takes.

Mr Campbell, now living near Ipswich and working as a cleaner, was found guilty in 1991 by a jury of shooting dead the shopkeeper in Hackney, London.

He spent more than a decade in various prisons, including Hollesley Bay near Woodbridge, with a reported confession to the crime during police interview used as a key part of the evidence to convict him.

He is still on licence for that offence, meaning that he cannot travel abroad and is subjected to closer monitoring by police.

Oliver Campbell spent part of his sentence at Hollesley Bay prison in Suffolk. Picture: LUCY TAYLOROliver Campbell spent part of his sentence at Hollesley Bay prison in Suffolk. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Yet the conviction of Mr Campbell, who has severe learning difficulties from a brain injury sustained as a baby, has been repeatedly challenged by some powerful backers.

In his first ever newspaper interview about his controversial conviction, Mr Campbell today says that he "went into prison innocent, I came out innocent and I've been innocent all the way through".

He is supported by Ipswich's Labour parliamentary candidate Sandy Martin, who told the House of Commons earlier this year that "Oliver simply was not capable of carrying out such a crime".

He added the confession should not have been used as evidence, given Mr Campbell's "limited mental capacity" and communication difficulties, while the Rough Justice television programme in 2002 even brought in a ballistics expert to questions the forensics.

Following that documentary, Mr Campbell's long-serving solicitor Glyn Maddocks and barrister Michael Birnbaum made a lengthy submission imploring the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.

The call fell on deaf ears, as the CCRC decided there was nothing new to form the basis of a fresh appeal.

But in its most recent comment on the case, a spokesman for the CCRC said: "The commission is ready to consider any re-application to us from Mr Campbell and to do so objectively, independently and professionally.

"We do, however, need Mr Campbell, through a representative if he prefers, to make a re-application to us.

"We cannot begin a review of his case without his requesting it and without some guidance from him, or from his nominated representative, as to the matters they think we need to consider as part of a new review."

The person with the most hope is Mr Campbell, who told this newspaper that the conviction "has messed up my life for a long time", adding: "It takes up your life for a lifetime.

"I could've had a full-time job, a relationship, had kids, a family life and travelled the world. I've lost all that.

"There are lots of people who have looked at my case and have said I shouldn't have been convicted. In my view this is a complete miscarriage of justice.

"Anyone who worked in the prisons where I was knew that I was innocent. I knew from day one that I was innocent. The CCRC should look at it again."

Mr Maddocks said in his opinion the conviction was a "disgrace" and added: "It's embarrassing for our criminal justice system that someone like Oliver could be convicted of doing something he's probably incapable of doing."

One person who has stood beside Mr Campbell in his fight for justice is his support worker Teresa Mackay, who began working with him while he was in prison.

"Oliver's the last person who would hurt anyone," she said.

"He might be a big guy but there's not a nasty bone in his body. He's known as the 'gentle giant'.

"I know there are miscarriages of justice, but this is the worst case I've ever come across.

"The fact he is still sitting here, nearly 30 years later, still waiting to clear his name is outrageous.

"Oliver is very good at controlling his feelings. Another person would be very angry and might be taking it out on society - that's the last thing he's done.

"He's worked throughout the time he's been out of prison and led a decent life, as he did previously.

"If he's guilty of anything, he's guilty of of saying things people want to hear."

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