Martin Foran - Second Conviction Quashed After 36 Year Fight
Lord Justice Pitchford handed down the judgement Friday 17th October 2014:
The CCRC Reference: On 12 June 1978 Martin Patrick Foran faced trial before HHJ Ross QC at Birmingham Crown Court upon an indictment charging him with six offences. In count 1 he was charged with burglary of a garage at 29 St Chad's Road, Rubery between 1 and 4 May 1977 and theft of a wallet and its contents. In the alternative, in count 2 he was charged with handling the wallet and contents. In count 3 he was charged that on 26 September 1977 he robbed Charles Apechis of £2,800 in cash and other property. In count 4 he was charged that on 8 October 1977 he robbed Natwarlal Trikain of a handbag and £35. In count 5 he was charged that on 13 October 1977 he robbed Richard Alexander Rice of a quantity of jewellery and watches, a cash box and cash. In count 6 he was charged that on 13 October 1977 he robbed Ian Lawrence Holmes of a watch, a wallet and its contents. In counts 3 - 6 Mr Foran was jointly charged with Errol Alexander Campbell. Campbell pleaded guilty to those counts and trial proceeded against Mr Foran alone.
During the course of the trial the judge withdrew count 1 from the jury and directed an acquittal. On 21 June 1978 the jury returned verdicts of not guilty upon count 2 and guilty upon counts 3 – 6 inclusive. Mr Foran was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment concurrent upon each count.
He appealed against conviction. On 11 March 1980, in a judgment a transcript of which is no longer available, the full court refused the applicant's renewed application for leave to appeal. In 1981 an effort was made to persuade the Home Secretary to refer the convictions back to the Court of Appeal. That effort was unsuccessful. In July 1982 Mr Foran conducted a roof top protest at HMP Nottingham. His case was raised in the House of Commons on 20 July 1982. The minister of state at the Home Office, Mr Patrick Mayhew QC, who had a copy of the court's judgment in his possession, reminded the House that he could not usurp the functions of the jury and the Court of Appeal. There was no new evidence that cast doubt upon the safety of the verdicts which, as Donaldson LJ had remarked in his judgment on behalf of the court, depended upon confessions by Mr Foran to the offences alleged.
On 7 January 2013 Mr Foran made an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission ("the Commission" or "the CCRC") for a review of his case. On 9 January 2014 the Commission referred the convictions to this court under section 9 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. Henceforth we shall refer to Mr Foran as the appellant. The grounds for referral which we paraphrase are that further information has come to light that casts down upon the prosecution case proved by police officers that the appellant had confessed to the count 3 – 6 offences; accordingly, that the verdicts were unsafe.
On 16 April 2013 this court (Leveson LJ, Mitting and Males JJ) allowed the appellant's appeal against a quite separate conviction at Birmingham Crown Court on 3 May 1985 on the ground that police evidence was tainted (Foran  EWCA Crim 437). However, the evidence under scrutiny in that case concerned an offence which took place in September 1984 and concerned police officers none of whom were involved in the investigation which is the subject of the present appeal.
Discussion and conclusion
It is accepted by the Commission that there is no direct evidence of malpractice against Detective Constable Davies, Detective Sergeant Hancocks, Detective Constable Bawden and Detective Sergeant Whelan, all of whom gave pivotal evidence in the trial of the appellant in 1978. However, it is submitted that there was implied in the judgment of the Court of Appeal in McIlkenny in 1991 a finding that the investigating team, including Detective Constable Davies, was corrupt or, if not corrupt, at least tainted to a degree that puts the credibility of Detective Constable Davies' evidence on oath in serious doubt. We have already expressed our reasons for rejecting this argument. While we accept that the taint of institutional corruption may affect the credit of an individual witness against whom no specific finding has been made, we note that this was an investigation in 1977 and that on no occasion since has Detective Constable Davies been implicated in corrupt practice. It is argued that the subsequent disciplinary findings against Detective Chief Inspector Taylor are important because, had they preceded the appellant's trial, they would have provided ammunition for cross-examination as to credit. He was also tainted subsequently by his involvement in the trial of Twitchell and thus susceptible to accusations of corruption in his dealings with suspects. In 1977 Detective Chief Inspector Taylor was the recently appointed head of the Serious Crime Squad. His leadership role would, it is submitted, have had a significant impact upon the team whom he was directing and, therefore, the truth of the evidence that the appellant made the disputed admissions on 24 October 1977 and on 3 April 1978. He was, in particular, Detective Sergeant Hancocks' senior officer. Detective Sergeant Jennings was, it is further submitted, implicated in the allegedly false evidence given at the trial of Keith Twitchell, and the taint on his credibility affects the value of his evidence that the appellant made admissions on 3 April 1978.
The respondent, having considered the material available, concedes that this court could properly conclude that the verdicts upon counts 3 and 4 are unsafe. There is a sufficient taint upon the credibility of Detective Constable Davies to cast doubt upon the accuracy of his evidence. There was upon the relevant issues evidence supportive of the appellant from Prison Officer Law. There was no direct or circumstantial evidence to place the appellant at either of the robberies; therefore, there was no supporting evidence from any other source. Charles Apechis (count 3) gave a description of his attacker that bore no resemblance to the appellant and subsequently, not having been called at trial, made a statement absolving the appellant. We accept Mr Rees QC's submission that no specific findings were made against Detective Chief Inspector Taylor and Detective Sergeant Jennings in the appeal of Twitchell. The ground upon which the court allowed the appeal was that had the material been available for cross-examination the effect would have been devastating. We have posed the question: why would cross-examination have been devastating? In our judgment, the material available for cross-examination of Detective Chief Inspector Taylor and Detective Sergeant Brown in Twitchell was so damaging to the credibility of those officers that there was serious doubt whether the jury would have been prepared to accept them as witnesses of truth. That being the case, Detective Sergeant Jennings' own evidence would have suffered the same taint since he was supporting the thrust of their evidence. We consider that, in the absence of any other admissible evidence implicating the appellant in the robberies charged in counts 3 and 4, any legitimate attack upon the credit of either Detective Constable Davies or Detective Sergeant Jennings would affect the safety of the verdicts upon those counts. The fact that we have found that there was nothing in the background or later events to cast doubt on the honesty of Detective Constable Davies does not determine the question whether the verdicts on these counts were unsafe. We recognise that our reasoning differs from that of the respondent. In our judgment, it is enough that there is material on which Detective Sergeant Jennings could legitimately have been cross-examined to effect. We have no way of knowing how that would have affected the jury's decision upon the reliability of the confession allegedly made at HMP Leicester on 3 April 1978 but we are clear that the challenge would have cast renewed light on its reliability. We are persuaded that we cannot be sure that the verdicts on those counts are safe. We consider a further route to the same conclusion in the following paragraphs.
We turn to counts 5 and 6. While, some three to four years later, Detective Chief Inspector Taylor was accused and convicted of disciplinary offences which went to his honesty and therefore affected the fairness of the trial of Mr Twitchell in 1982, there is no evidence of malpractice by him before the investigation of Mr Twitchell's case in November 1980, fully three years after the investigation in the appellant's case. However, the appeals of OToole, Murphy and Wilcox all concerned the investigation of robbery by the Serious Crime Squad in 1977 and in Twitchell the allegation was that Detective Chief Inspector Taylor had falsely placed himself in an interview in order to give dishonest support to the evidence of other officers.
Detective Sergeant Hancocks, admittedly an untainted witness, was able to produce a document at trial that has the hallmarks of contemporaneity and was consistent with the evidence of the progression of the critical interview leading, as he said, to the appellant's admissions. It was inconsistent with the appellant's complete denial that he had given any information to the officer about robberies or Ireland. In our judgment, this document must have been central to the jury's consideration of counts 5 and 6. On the other hand, the legitimate point was made by Ms Nicholls in argument that no contemporaneous note of admissions from the appellant to the Rice Jewellery robbery was made by Mr Hancocks even though, according to the officer, he immediately went on to make them. Furthermore, it did not follow that because the jury accepted the handwritten note as genuine they were bound to accept the critical evidence of admissions. There was open to the jury the conclusion that the appellant did attempt to strike a bargain by giving information about others but may not have made any admission of his own guilt. The evidence of Detective Sergeant Whelan and Detective Constable Bawden, also untainted witnesses who did not serve in the Serious Crime Squad, provided, as we have said, significant support for Detective Sergeant Hancocks' evidence, since Whelan was hardly going to ask for confirmation from the appellant that he had made admissions unless Hancocks had told him that he had. That, however, does not resolve the question whether the admissions had in fact been made to Detective Sergeant Hancocks before Detective Sergeant Whelan arrived at the police station. If by reason of an attack on the credibility of Detective Chief Inspector Taylor the jury had doubts about the truthfulness of the evidence of Detective Sergeant Hancocks it seems to us that a ripple effect would inevitably follow.
The question we have to resolve is whether the specific material available for cross examination of Detective Chief Inspector Taylor and the general taint upon the leadership of the Serious Crime Squad in 1977 is sufficient to place the confession evidence in doubt. We consider that cross examination of Detective Chief Inspector Taylor would have had some impact upon the issue facing the jury. That fact was bound to place the evidence of officers of the Serious Crime Squad under pressure, particularly the evidence of Detective Sergeant Hancocks and Detective Constable Davies. Although we readily accept that it is not possible to assess with any certainty what the outcome would have been, we are clear that the jury would not have approached the evidence in categories each one hermetically sealed from the next. Cross-examination of the head of the Serious Crime Squad as to the honesty and reliability of the investigation may well have had the effect of causing the jury to examine with increased scepticism the issue as to how the injuries to the appellant had been caused. It may also have had an effect on the jury's assessment of the truth and accuracy of the appellant's alibi evidence. Once the jury were faced by this means with a further challenge to the accuracy and truthfulness of Detective Constable Davies' evidence, there would have been a further ripple effect on their examination of his evidence in support of the confession allegedly made on 3 April 1978, and the evidence of Detective Sergeant Whelan and Detective Constable Bawden supporting the alleged confession of 24 October 1977. While we are quite unable to make findings adverse to the credibility of any officer, we cannot be sure, for the reasons we have stated, that a verdict based upon on these alleged confessions is a safe verdict.
Finally, there was in the case of counts 5 and 6 a positive identification of the appellant by Mr Holmes who said, when attending the identification parade, "I am not mistaken, that is the man". We are conscious of the fact that the full Turnbull direction was not given to the jury but we have read each of the judge's directions to the jury on the subject of identification and, in our view, the judge safely left the issue to the jury with the warning that they should look for supporting evidence. However, since we have concluded that the identification cannot be regarded as reliably supported by the evidence of confession it follows that the convictions upon counts 5 and 6 are unsafe.
For these reasons the appeal is allowed and we quash the appellant's convictions upon counts 3 – 6 inclusive.
Martin Foran fitted up by WMSCS in 1985 Cleared After 28-Year Battle
Martin Foran was jailed in 1985 for the gang robbery of a Birmingham pub landlord and a plot to raid a post office in Water Orton days later. The 69-year-old, who used to live in Ladywood and describes himself as a 'forgotten man', served eight years in prison on the back of evidence from the same discredited police outfit that investigated the Birmingham Six.
Paddy Hill, one of The Six wrongly imprisoned, backed Mr Foran's campaign to clear his name.
The disabled father-of-five has always protested his innocence, claiming he was framed by the notorious West Midlands police squad which was disbanded in 1989.
Almost 28 years to the day since he was sent to prison, Lord Justice Leveson said Mr Foran's conviction must be overturned due to the serious tainting of police evidence.
Read more: Birmingham Mail, 17th April 2013
Martin Foran 27 year fight Against Fitting up by West Midlands Serious Crime Squad
This particular case is the second time not the first time Martin was fitted up by the police. In 1982 Martin spent over 47 days on the roof of HMP Nottingham, after he was convicted in June 1978 on four counts, involving three robberies, and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on each, the sentences to run concurrently. He consistently asserted his innocence and repeatedly staged various types of demonstration to draw attention to his case.
Martin Foran Conviction Referred To Court Of Appeal
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-20787100>BBC News, 19/12/12
A man's robbery conviction has been referred to the Court of Appeal after information emerged regarding a police officer's credibility, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) said.
It said the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad officer was involved in the case against Martin Foran, who was tried in 1985 and jailed for eight years.
Foran was convicted of robbery and conspiracy to rob, the CCRC added.
The West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was disbanded in 1989.
The CCRC said Foran, who was tried at Birmingham Crown Court, was sentenced to six years in prison for robbery and a further two years, to run consecutively, for conspiracy to rob.
It added that the commission had decided to refer his convictions to the Court of Appeal "because it believes that there is a real possibility the court will quash the convictions".
'No longer sufficient'
The CCRC said: "The case is being referred on the basis that information, not previously considered in proceedings against Mr Foran, has come to light regarding the credibility of a police officer from the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad who was involved in the case against Mr Foran.
"This information, and a re-assessment of other matters relating to the officer that have previously been raised on Mr Foran's behalf, leads the commission to conclude that the officer's credibility is tainted."
It also said "developments in case law mean that the fact that the evidence of a tainted officer is supported by an officer to whom no criticism is attached, is no longer sufficient to uphold a conviction".
Foran sought to appeal against the convictions but his appeal was dismissed in July 1986, the CCRC said.
In 1992, he applied to the Home Office for a review of his case. It was reviewed and subsequently referred to the Court of Appeal.
Foran's second appeal was dismissed in February 1995.
Martin Patrick Foran [December 1981]
Mr. John Farr (Harborough): With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to present a petition in the name of Mr. Martin Patrick Foran, whom I have met and with whom I have corresponded, and by whose circumstances I am impressed. The petition is as follows: "To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled." "The Humble Petition of Martin Patrick Foran showeth" "That I was sentenced to 10 years in prison for crimes I did not commit, because of the way in which my trial was conducted." "That two of the main witnesses, people I was accused of robbing, were not called at my trial." "That after my trial they gave statements to my solicitor stating that I was not the person who robbed them." "That when I appealed on grounds of mistaken identity, one of these people was called as a witness to the Appeal Court and stated that I was definitely not the person who robbed him." "That my appeal was not allowed by the judges on the grounds that in the original trial I was not identified, and that therefore there could be no case of mistaken identity." "Wherefore your Petitioner prays that your honourable House will urge the Secretary of State for the Home Office to consider this miscarriage of justice and take action to right it." "And your Petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc." "Martin Foran," "H.M. Prison Gartree," "Market Harborough," "Leicestershire."
<http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1981/dec/08/mr-martin-patrick-foran>HC Deb 08 December 1981 vol 14
Mr. Martin Foran [July 1982]
Mr. William Whitlock (Nottingham, North)
While the House has been sitting, Mr. Martin Patrick Foran has entered his forty-seventh day on the roof of Her Majesty's prison, Nottingham. It is a demonstration that is intended to bring to public notice his statement of his innocence of the crimes for which he has been convicted. Many people in the Nottingham area, having learnt some details of his case, have become anxious about him and are convinced of his innocence. That deep anxiety and the fact that the prison is in my constituency has led me to raise the matter.
Foran was convicted on 21 June 1978 on four counts, involving three robberies, and was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on each, the sentences to run concurrently. Since then, he has consistently asserted his innocence and repeatedly staged various types of demonstration to draw attention to his case. As a result, many people, especially in the East and West Midlands have become worried about him. Many people believe that in his case there has been a miscarriage of justice of which he is the victim.
Foran is a constituent of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever), who has played a part in trying to help him. For a while, Foran was an inmate of Gartree prison in Leicestershire where he won the interest of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) who presented a petition to the House on his behalf in 1981.
The Bishop of Leicester has revealed that chaplains at Gartree prison have become deeply concerned about Foran's case and that some of them have become fully convinced that he was wrongly imprisoned. Other hon. Members in both Houses have taken an interest in Foran's case and have made representation to the Home Office. There have been petitions that have been signed by thousands of people. All to no avail-Foran remains in prison.
Martin Foran is no angel. He has "form"-a criminal record-but on 21 June 1978 he was not being tried for his past record. Or was he? Some people fully believe that he was framed. The main witnesses to the robberies-the people who were allegedly his victims-were not called at the trial. For some technical reason, only their statements were read out. The judge at the trial agreed that the descriptions given by the witnesses "did not even remotely resemble Foran"." Since then, those witnesses have said that Martin Foran was not among the persons who robbed them and that they are willing to give evidence to that effect.
No fingerprint evidence was produced at the trial and the chief constable of the West Midlands police force has said that "by genuine mistake" it was not revealed to the defence that Martin Foran's fingerprints were not found at any of the three scenes of the robberies of which he was found guilty, nor were they found on the sword that was used to cut telephone wires in one of the robberies, although other prints were found at each of the scenes.
Dealing with Foran's application for leave to appeal against both his conviction and his sentence, the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) concluded that "there were no grounds upon which Mr. Foran could reasonably expect to argue an appeal with the slightest prospect of success" 374 and his application was refused. The Court of Appeal said that his case was "a confession case, not an identification case"." The evidence by witnesses who were victims of the robberies that Foran was not among the robbers was therefore not thought to matter. The evidence given in court that he was at a house in Ladywood at the time of one of the robberies was thought to be of no consequence. Nor did it matter, apparently, that the absence of Foran's fingerprints at any of the scenes of the crime was not made known to the defence. Everything that would have weighed in his favour was brushed aside. As the Court of Appeal said, it was not an identification case but a confession case. Yet from the very beginning Foran has strenously maintained that any suggestion that he confessed to the crime was a complete fabrication and there is no signed confession by this man.
As I have said, there was a lack of evidence identifying Foran as participating in the robberies, but that lack of evidence was considered to be of no importance. Because that view was taken at the trial, the Court of Appeal in effect stated that identification was unnecessary and waved aside the evidence on. Foran's side that had not been made available at the trial.
I find that absolutely perverse. If that kind of logic is always adopted by our legal luminaries, my previous faith in British justice must disappear. What seems to have weighed heavily with the Court of Appeal was that at the trial Foran was "represented by an extremely experienced team of leading counsel and junior counsel"." It seems, therefore, to have been of paramount importance that a belief in the infallibility of members of the legal profession should be upheld-no matter what the consequences for Foran, and no matter what errors of judgment the learned counsel may have made in conducting the case.
Serious doubts and considerable unease exist in the minds of many people who have taken an interest in Martin Foran's case. We owe it to ourselves as much as to Foran to investigate these doubts and to dispel that unease.
I hope that the Minister of State will be able to tell us that there is an opportunity to have further investigations and that the unease exists in his Department, too. I hope that he will be able to take steps to ensure that all the feelings about Foran are dispelled by a further investigation and by re-opening the case in some way that he has found.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Patrick Mayhew)
I have listened with care to what the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Whitlock) said about the case of Mr. Foran. I shall study the report of the hon. Gentleman's speech in the Official Report.
Before I deal with some of the points made I shall explain the jurisdiction that the Home Secretary has in individual cases in which it is alleged that there has been a miscarriage of justice. The duty of administering justice in individual criminal cases lies with the courts. While it is true that the Home Secretary has certain powers to intervene following a conviction, either by recommending the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy or by referring the case to the Court of Appeal under section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968, he must not exercise those powers in any way which tends to usurp the proper 375 function of the courts. Therefore, in practice he can consider intervention only if significant new evidence or other material factor of substance bearing upon the reliability of the conviction comes to light which has not already been taken into consideration by the courts or which was not previously available to the defendant to be made use of in his defence.
The Home Secretary must not assess the decisions of the courts on the basis only of facts or arguments that they have themselves considered. That would be to act as though he were a further court of appeal himself. In particular, it would be wrong for the Home Secretary to intervene merely because he might have taken a different view of the facts had the original decision rested with him instead of a properly directed jury.
As the hon. Gentleman rightly said, Mr. Foran was convicted on 21 June 1978 at Birmingham Crown court of three robberies forming the subject of four counts. He was sentenced to four concurrent terms of 10 years' imprisonment. His application for an extension of time in which to appeal and for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence was refused by a single judge on 21 May 1979 and by the full Court of Appeal on 11 March 1980.
I take the following brief description of the three robberies from the judgment of Lord Justice Donaldson, giving the judgment of the full Court of Appeal. He said: "The first count arises out of an incident which occurred in the early hours of the morning of Monday 26 September 1977. A Mr. Apechis woke up to find three West Indians and a white man in his bedroom. Each was armed with a knife. He described the white man as being 18 years of age and it should be noted that the applicant was then aged 33. All four wore masks which they later pulled up. Mr. Apechis was told that he had better produce his money or it would be the worse for him, and the men departed taking £2,800 from beneath the mattress and some sovereigns, having first tied up Mr. Apechis." "I now turn to the second robbery. There were three robberies in all, although they formed four counts. The second robbery occurred at half past midnight on 8 October 1977 at the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Trikain." Lord Justice Donaldson said that Mr. Trikain woke up to find a white man standing beside the bed with a bar in his hand. The intruder said that they, meaning he and others, wanted money and as long as they got it Mr. Trikain would not be hurt. Mr. Trikain then noticed that there was a coloured man on the other side of the bed. He had a bar in one hand and a torch in the other. That man ok some money from Mrs. Trikain's handbag and told the white man to keep an eye on the Trikains while he left the bedroom.
Mr. Trikain then went for the white man who departed speedily. Mr. Trikain's evidence was that both the men were young, the white man aged about 25-the accused was 33 at the relevant time-and the coloured man 18 to 20. Mrs. Trikain also agreed that the white man was about 25. The Trikains were faced with the difficulty that they could not see the white man's face and hair because he had taken the precaution of using a pullover belonging to the Trikain's daughter to put over his head. "That brings me"-" said Lord Justice Donaldson- "to the last robbery which is the subject matter of two counts. Mr. Rice had a jeweller's shop in Sparkbrook. On 13 October 1977 a Mr. Holmes called to see him. Some time between 5.30 and 6 in the evening these two men were in the back part of the shop when two coloured men entered, followed a few seconds 376 later by a white man who was brandishing some form of sword or cutlass which he used to cut the telephone lines. Immediately thereafter two more coloured men appeared. Mr. Rice and Mr. Holmes were ordered into the kitchen. The sword was handed over to one of the coloured men whilst the white man opened up one of the two safes. There were also two watches which Mr. Rice was repairing and they were taken and the till was emptied. While these operations were going on, Mrs. Rice arrived with her daughter, Karen. the door had been locked. Mrs. Rice knocked on it. The white man, telling Mr. Rice to keep out of sight, invited Mrs. Rice to come in. Apparently at that stage the white man decided that it would be better that all should depart. They did so in some hurry, dropping all the proceeds of the robbery other than about £30, and the sword or cutlass. Mr. Rice said that that white man was Irish, by which I take it he meant that he spoke with an Irish accent; that he had marks like moles on the sides of his face; that he was in his late twenties or early thirties; and wore a hat. Mr. Holmes who had his wrist watch and wallet taken, put the white man as being about 40 years of age and again said he had moles, specifying that they were on the right cheek." That was the summary of the facts given in the Court of Appeal. In May 1977, Mr. Foran had been arrested in connection with other matters and bailed. He jumped his bail, and a warrant was issued and he was rearrested on 24 October 1977.
Mr. Foran was then interviewed by three police officers, to one of whom, when he was alone, he is said to have admitted his part in the robbery at the jeweller's shop, which occasion he described in great detail and with considerable accuracy.
Evidence was given at the trial that Mr. Foran had confirmed this confession to two other police officers, one of whom was a detective chief inspector. On 9 November, an identification parade was held. As Mr. Foran had moles on his face, all those taking part had sticking plaster in the relevant places. Mr. Holmes positively identified Mr. Foran. Mr. Rice, however, picked out another man, as did his wife and daughter. The latter had picked out Mr. Foran from some photographs but neither the trial court nor the Appeal Court regarded that as satisfactory.
On 13 March 1978, one Errol Campbell, a West Indian, was arrested and made a statement in which he admitted to all three robberies and said that Mr. Foran was involved in each. On 3 April 1978, two police officers interviewed Mr. Foran at Leicester prison, when they read Campbell's statement to him. Their evidence was that he thereupon admitted that he had taken part in the Apechis and Trikain robberies as well as that at the jeweller's shop.
At the trial, however, Mr. Foran denied entirely that he had confessed to any of the offences at any time, said that the police had fabricated all the evidence and, indeed, said that they had beaten him up for refusing to confess.
A prison officer who had escorted Mr. Foran when he was interviewed by the police at Leicester prison, and who had seen but not heard the interview, gave evidence for the defence. His evidence was in conflict with that of the police officers on certain matters, including the attitude of Mr. Foran during that interview, and in his summing-up the trial judge was at pains to draw the attention of the jury to all the descrepancies. It was for the jury to decide which evidence it preferred.
I now return briefly to the robberies at the houses of Mr. Apechis and Mr. Trikain. Mr. Apechis described the man as being about 18 years of age, as I have mentioned. Mr. Foran was 33. Mr. and Mrs. Trikain said that the white man concerned in their robbery was about 25. That evidence was read at Mr. Foran's trial by agreement-it was not a matter of technicality, as the hon. Gentleman said, but by agreement-and the judge was again at pains 377 in his summing-up to point out to the jury that certainly Mr. Apechis's description of the white man did not even remotely resemble Mr. Foran.
When Mr. Foran sought leave to appeal against his conviction and his sentence, he sought leave to call Mr. Apechis and Mr. Trikain to give evidence. Mr. Apechis had said in a letter before the Court of Appeal that he was sure that Mr. Foran was not present. However, the full court refused the application, principally because the case against Mr. Foran had rested not on identification, for there was none in the case of the Apechis and Trikain robberies, but upon his confession to the offences. The court commented that Mr. Apechis's description had been before the jury, which had had its attention drawn by the judge to the fact that it did not in the least resemble Mr. Foran. Similarly, the court had been reminded that Mr. Trikain had not seen the face of the white intruder. The jury was entitled, nevertheless, to accept the police evidence as to the oral confessions.
Since the trial, said Lord Justice Donaldson, it had emerged that Mr. Trikain could say that he knew Mr. Foran and that it was not he who had robbed him. The court dealt with those applications to call further evidence in the following passage. Lord Justice Donaldson said: "We have given serious consideration as to whether there should be leave to appeal to enable these applications to call further evidence to be considered. We do not think there are any grounds for granting leave to call that further evidence, bearing in mind our analysis that this was a confession case and that identification or non-identification, or positive evidence that it was not the man, in the circumstances of this case would not take the matter sufficiently far beyond the state which was reached at the trial when evidence from these two men was read, to justify us giving leave for them to give evidence and reconsidering the matter." It will be clear that in the case of the two robberies to which I have just referred-the Apechis and the Trikain robberies-the case against Mr. Foran rested exclusively on the reliance to be placed on his alleged admissions at Leicester prison on 3 April. In the light of the conflict between the evidence of the police officers taking the confession and the prison officer to whom I have already referred, I have had further investigations made. These have, however, failed to reveal any further grounds for umpugning the police officers' account. It is to be remembered that the prison officer observed the interview from the adjoining room, and except for one occasion when he joined the interview at Mr. Foran's request, he did not hear the conversation between him and the police officers.
The case in respect of the offences against Mr. Rice and Mr. Holmes at the jeweller's shop is also based on Mr. Foran's alleged confessions, although in that case there is the additional factor that Mr. Holmes did positively identify him at the identification parade.
The hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that, while one of the four people who witnessed the third robbery identified Foran, the other three identified others in the identification parade.
That is perfectly true, but the hon. Gentleman cannot just pick on a factor and say that that is decisive to the exclusion of others.
I hope that I have dealt with the matter fairly, but a fair account of the matter has to take note of the fact that in 378 the case of the jeweller's shop robbery there was an additional element of a positive identification on the part of Mr. Holmes.
At his trial, Mr. Foran adduced an alibi for this period-that is to say, the period relating to the jeweller's shop robbery-but, although the trial judge carefully explained to the jury that it was not for Mr. Foran to prove that alibi, the jury was evidently not led by it to doubt the prosecution's evidence as to his confession.
I have also investigated the fact that partial fingerprint impressions found on the sword used during the robbery were not those of Mr. Foran. However, that does not take us any further. It was unchallenged at the trial that the sword was, for instance, handed by the white man engaged in the robbery to one of the West Indians, three of whom have not yet been traced. It would have been possible for Mr. Foran to have handled the sword without leaving any fingerprints upon it.
The hon. Gentleman rightly said that the chief constable has said that it was by a genuine mistake that the fact that partial fingerprints had been found which were not those of Mr. Foran was not communicated to the defence. I think that I have dealt with that. It is a factor that does not take the matter further in any significant respect.
The hon. Gentleman has devoted great care to this issue. If he cares to examine in the Official Report what I have said, he will find that it is not an accurate or fair description of what took place to say that everything that would have weighed in Mr. Foran's favour was brushed aside. The judge was at pains at the trial to point out the discrepancies, for example, between the evidence of appearance given by Mr. Apechis and Mr. Trikain and the prosecution case. He was at pains to point out the discrepancies that arose between the evidence of the prison officer and the evidence of the police officers at the time that the confession was said to have been made. The hon. Gentleman cannot say that matters that were favourable were brushed on one side.
The Court of Appeal had to ascertain whether there was anything that prevented a properly directed jury-it held that the jury was properly directed-from preferring the evidence of the police officers to the oral confessions that were made. It is for the jury, which has the advantage of seeing witnesses, hearing witnesses and making its own judgment of the reliability of witnesses, to come to a conclusion on the facts in a criminal trial.
It must always be borne in mind that the Home Secretary must not usurp the function of the jury or that of the Court of Appeal. Against that background I have carefully considered the case, including the fingerprint argument. I have been unable to find any new evidence or other material factor not already considered by the courts or previously available to the defence that would justify the Home Secretary seeking to intervene. That decision cannot and will not be affected by any extraneous consideration such as the demonstration upon which Mr. Foran is currently engaged.
<http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1982/jul/20/mr-martin-foran>HC Deb 20 July 1982 vol 28