Suffolk man faces death penalty

A SUFFOLK-born man on America's death row may have just weeks to live.John "Jackie" Elliott, 43, is due to be executed in Texas on February 4 – unless campaigners fighting for clemency succeed in an 11th hour bid to save him.

A SUFFOLK-born man on America's death row may have just weeks to live.

John "Jackie" Elliott, 43, is due to be executed in Texas on February 4 – unless campaigners fighting for clemency succeed in an 11th hour bid to save him.

Elliott who was born and brought up in Felixstowe, is facing the death penalty

after being convicted of rape and murder of 18-year-old Joyce Munguia, though he has consistently pleaded his innocence.

He has been on death row since 1987 awaiting his sentence by lethal injection.

Human rights lawyer Hugh Southey met officials at the Foreign Office to warn them that the first deadline for Government pleas for clemency is January 14.

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Mr Southey, part of a team campaigning on behalf of Elliott, said there had been "significant developments" made by those investigating the conviction.

Although he was unable to disclose the new evidence for legal reasons, he said it led him to "doubt the safety of the conviction".

He confirmed he had called on the Government to provide forensic help with DNA and blood splatter tests which could clear Elliott's name.

Construction worker Elliott, 42, was born in Suffolk and lived in Felixstowe with his parents Robert – who was stationed on a United States Air Force base – and Dorothy. His parents have returned to America.

Clemency can be granted by the US Pardons and Paroles Board but Texan Governor, Rick Perry – who replaced President George W Bush – can also grant a stay of execution.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are very much aware of the situation and the time frame and we will be hoping to make these representations as the lawyers have advised us to.

"Ultimately it is a decision for the Home Secretary. Obviously time is of the essence and we hope to do all we possibly can.'"

Labour MP for Hull North Kevin McNamara has already tabled a Commons motion which "urges the Government to make representations to the United States federal and Texas state authorities" over the case.

Some 15 MPs signed the motion before Christmas and Elliott's campaigners hope to win more support after the festive break.

Elliott is the longest-serving of three Britons on death row in the US.

Texas leads the US in the number of executions, having put to death 289 people including six foreign nationals, 13 men under 18 years of age and two women.

Andie Lambe, director of the campaign group Reprieve, said: "Reprieve is funding and investigating Jack's case and trying to find new evidence.

"There was not really much investigation done initially and the scary thing is that our investigators, who have only been involved since November, have already uncovered a lot of interesting information."

WEBLINKS: www.kevinmcnamara.co.uk

www.reprieve.org.uk

www.fco.gov.uk

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