Norman Grant, Knocked Back by CCRC - A Perverse Decision!
CCRC admit there was a failure by The West Midlands Police Service to properly forensically secure the crime scene: the evidence given by the CPS was purely circumstantial.
'Two statements made by Forensic Scene Investigator (FSI) Brookes clearly state that the JCB was, not searched or forensically examined. Brookes gives an explanation for such, based on his assessment of the relative likelihood of obtaining forensic results given the state of the interior of the vehicle.' Police gave contradictory accounts as to when the JCB was removed from the crime scene, DC Dawson said it was moved on 12/01/2010 but DC Wilson said it was moved on 13/01/2010.
Brookes explanation is piss poor it beggars belief the JCB that was the major source of evidence on two counts; the method of committing the crime and the location of a balaclava alleged to have been worn by Mr Grant, whilst committing the crime, was not forensically examined because in his opinion it was to dirty.
The JCB was returned to the owner, who lo and behold discovered a 'balaclava', which FSI Brookes completely missed on his initial, fleeting, examination of the JCB, because he couldn't be bothered to do a proper examination of the JCB.
At para 33 of their decision, they suggest that Mr Grant had no option but to claim the balaclava was planted!
Also at para 33 'Cell site evidence', the phone was in the area, what is my crime, being in an area that I grew up in my mother lives 10 yards from the bank, the next road to Murdock Road, my daughter lives 10 yards from the cemetery. Plus other family and friends in the immediate and surrounding areas, I am in that area every day, I have no exclusion order to enter Handsworth, I have the right as a citizen that does not make me a gang member, the cell site evidence if correct places me in the area this is not unusual I am always in that area, that is where I train as well.
Also at para 33 they take Mr Grant to task for failing to give evidence at trial. The CCRC must be aware that no Crown Court judge, would expect a defendant with a criminal history to take the stand at trial, indeed in summing up at trial, where a defendant has not took the stand, the judge would emphatically instruct the jury, no inference can or should be made from the defendant not giving evidence.
Photographic evidence, the CCRC did not dispute a theoretical possibility that Meta Data could be manipulated in order to give a misleading impression as to timings on the disclosed working copy, which is based on the fact that he has not had what could be termed 'absolute proof' of the timings by way of access to the master copy of the photographs. Here it would have been very simple for the CCRC to request examination of the original copy and irrefutably prove the integrity of the evidence; they refused to do so, (para 21).
Norman Grant: A8832AM, HMP Whitemoor, Long Hill Road, March, PE15 0PR
You can Email Norman, through Email a Prisoner, cost 35 pence
[Below full text verbatim of CCRC Knock Back, Norman's full comments 'Points I asked to be Considered by the CCRC When Reviewing my Case Many of Which Were Ignored, are located here . . . .']
CCRC: The Applicant's Submissions
9. On 25 November 2012 the Commission received an application from Mr Grant asking for a review of conviction and sentence. The issues raised by and on behalf of Mr Grant in his application and supporting submissions can be summarised as follows.
* A report by Mr Allan Jamieson (marked by him 'Not to be Served') relating to DNA issues.
* New expert evidence from a Mr Grant Fredericks relating to the continuity and integrity of photographic evidence produced at trial relating to the presence of the balaclava in the JCB.
* A request that the balaclava be re-examined in order to identify any outstanding DNA profiles.
* A request to examine' whether the item in the, JCB photograph purporting to show the. balaclava is consistent with the appearance of the item seized.
* A request to examine the integrity and continuity of the JCB photograph.
10. Mr Grant has also indicated that he wants his sentence to' be reviewed.
The CCRC's Review
11. In the course of its review of this case the Commission' has considered the following:
Mr Grant's application together with supporting submissions and material.
* The reports prepared by Mr Jamieson and Mr Fredericks.
* A transcript of the trial judge's summing-up.
* The previous grounds of appeal.
* The Court of Appeal judgment.
* The Crown Court file.
* The Crown Prosecution Service file.
* The West Midlands Police Service file
Analysis and Reasons - The CCRC's Powers
12 The CCRC may refer a conviction if the following conditions are met:
1. there is a real possibility that the conviction would be overturned if it were referred; and
2. this real possibility arises from evidence or argument which was not put forward at trial or appeal (or there are exceptional circumstances); and
3. the applicant has already appealed or applied for leave to appeal (or there are exceptional circumstances).
13. The CCRC may refer a sentence if the following conditions are met:
1. there is a real possibility that the sentence would be reduced if it were referred; and
2. this real possibility arises from information or argument on a point of law which was not, put forward at trial or appeal; and
3. the applicant has already appealed or applied for leave to appeal, (or there are exceptional circumstances).
Mr Jamieson's report
14. The Commission notes that, in reality, Mr Jamieson only talks in the most general terms about the possibility of DNA degradation and transference: He provides no evidence or opinion whatsoever to suggest that such matters are of any particular relevance to, or likelihood in, Mr Grant's case.
15. The Commission therefore consider Mr Jamieson's report to have no real relevance to this case.
Outstanding D.NA profiles
16. The Commission does not consider that a further examination or testing of the balaclava could realistically give rise to prospective new evidence or argument to render this conviction unsafe. In coming to this view the Commission notes that Mr Grant was convicted of being party to a' conspiracy to rob, as opposed to a robbery committed alone. By definition, others were involved, including those who may have hitherto evaded detection or conviction. Additionally, it is not uncommon for items such as balaclavas to be shared between criminal associates and used during several different offences.
17. 'Consequently, even if the balaclava were to yield DNA relating to other possible suspects, the Commission does not consider that such would in any way detract from the DNA evidence against Mr Grant. At best, it might serve to identify additional, as opposed to alternative, suspects.
The Appearance of the Balaclava
18. The Commission would observe that the enhanced photographs' purporting to show the balaclava in the JCB, were produced at trial. Both the photographs and the balaclava were therefore available to Mr Grant, his defence and,' the jury. No challenge appears to have been mounted as to whether they might be different items, either at trial, or appeal, and the Commission can see no basis for such a suggestion. In the Commission's view, the appearance of the item in the 'enhanced photograph seems entirely consistent with the camouflage pattern of the seized balaclava.
The Integrity of the Photographs
19. The Commission notes that, in his report, Mr Fredericks explicitly states that there is no actual evidence to undermine the integrity of the JCB photographs or the timing thereof. He simply suggests a theoretical possibility that meta data could be manipulated in order to give a misleading impression as to timings on the disclosed working copy, which is based on the fact that he has not had what could be termed 'absolute proof' of the timings by way of access to the master copy of the photographs.
20. The Commission would observe that it is entirely routine for working copies of photographs to be used for trial and that, inevitably, such files will be subject to a degree of re-naming in order to refer to what they depict. In this case it is clear that the master file was' exhibited by Mr Brookes as FB1, with the working copy FB1C. The existence of the master copy would, therefore, have been known to the defence, who would have been able to challenge the authenticity or timings of the photographs if such a dispute had arisen at trial. The Commission would further note that it would be an unusual step for the master file to be released by police, in order to keep it secure, and therefore the fact that Mr Fredericks has not been provided with such, in the Commission's view, does not give rise to particular suspicion.
21. .The Commission has considered whether, in the absence of any actual evidence to question the integrity of the photographs, it should nonetheless obtain and examine the original master file and Meta data relating to the photographs. However, for the reasons outlined below, it has decided not to do so.
The Nature of the JCB Examination
22. It has, in effect, been asserted that the presence of the balaclava at the time of any examination of the JCB is highly improbable, and, therefore is supportive of the suggestion that it was planted. The Commission, however wholly disagrees. Contrary to what has been claimed, there is no evidence that the JCB was 'thoroughly examined'. Two statements made by Forensic Scene Investigator Brookes clearly state that the JCB was, not searched or forensically examined. He gives an explanation for such, based on his assessment of the relative likelihood of obtaining forensic results given the state of the interior of the vehicle. This he states was further discussed and affirmed at a subsequent forensic strategy meeting before the JCB Was returned.
23. In light of this, the Commission considers it is indeed plausible that the balaclava remained under the seat unnoticed. The Commission further considers that the forensic strategy with regard to the JCB would appear to be both reasonable and justifiable in the circumstances, namely:
* The vehicle clearly did not belong to any' of the culprits significantly reducing the prospects of finding personal items belonging to them.
* It had only been obtained a short time before the robbery.
* The robbery had been carefully planned, and those involved were said to have been wearing masks and gloves;
* The interior of the vehicle was said to be extremely dirty and any remaining footwear marks had become obscured by dust and dirt due to the engine's vibrations.
24. Consequently, it appears to the Commission that there were solid grounds for concluding that the JCB would be a poor source of forensic evidence, and should not be regarded as a forensic priority.
The Inherent Implausibility of the 'Plant' theory
25. While the Commission accepts the theoretical possibility of a 'plant', it considers such to be wholly implausible in the circumstances of this case for the reasons outlined below.
26. Firstly, and as 'observed by the Court of Appeal, there is no evidence that Mr Grant was a suspect at the time of the, discovery of the balaclava. In addition, it is a far more uncertain exercise to plant an item at a crime scene rather than on an individual. Consequently, there would have been significant risks in planting the balaclava in the JCB, not least because there would have been no way of knowing Mr Grant's whereabouts' at the time of the offence, or whether he might have an irrefutable alibi.
27. Secondly, the balaclava was not discovered by police but, rather, the owner of the JCB upon its return, which therefore had to rely on him both finding it and, notifying police.
28. Thirdly, Mr: Grant denies that the balaclava was his. His account to the Commission is that he has never owned the balaclava nor seen it before. Consequently, the 'plant' would therefore had to have entailed someone somehow obtaining genetic material from Mr Grant and placing it on the balaclava, before then placing the balaclava in the JCB. Thereafter, the discovery of a similar item at Mr Grant's property, namely the home made face mask, would presumably have simply been a fortuitous and coincidence for police
29. Fourthly, the person responsible for planting the balaclava (and presumably Mr Grant's DNA), would then have had to have persuaded civilian Forensic Scene Investigator Brookes' to become embroiled in the criminal conspiracy, by dishonestly altering photograph 'hash values' when compiling the photographs' working copy from the master file, an endeavour with significant risks should continuity become a significant issue of dispute at trial.
30. Finally, either the balaclava and/or Mr Grant's genetic material must have somehow either been held in reserve by those intent on framing him until such time as an opportunity arose, or alternatively, been obtained within the week between the offence and discovery of the balaclava.
Conclusions re photographs
31. For the reasons outlined above, the Commission does not consider there to be any realistic scope for the balaclava having been planted in the JCB by police. As for other possible explanations of how it might have got there," Mr Grant was silent in both interview and at trial, and has not provided the Commission with a cogent explanation for such. Consequently, the Commission does not consider that further investigating the integrity of the photographs by reference to the master file and related meta data is a matter which is either necessary or justified in this case.
32. No specific submissions have been made in respect of sentence. However, the Commission has nonetheless considered the issue, but concluded that, in light of the seriousness of the offence and Mr Grant's repeat offending, there is no prospect of the Court coming to a different view from that previously reached.
33. The case against Mr Grant, while, circumstantial, was compelling. Although it is true that, even as far back as trial, the defence suggested the possibility that the balaclava was planted in reality, there, was little other option open in seeking to meet such an incriminating piece of evidence. Over and above, the balaclava's connection between' Mr Grant and the robbery, there was also the telecoms and cell site evidence; as well as Mr Grant's failure to answer questions and, indeed, give evidence.
34. While the Commission has given careful consideration to the issues raised in this application, it does not consider there to be any real possibility of those matters giving rise to substantive new evidence or argument, or which merit further forensic examination, either in terms of DNA or photographic integrity.
35. Neither can the Commission identify any prospect of Mr Grant's sentence being reduced.
The CCRC's Decision
36. On the information available, the CCRC has decided not to refer this conviction or sentence to the Court of Appeal because:
* there is no real possibility that the conviction would be overturned if referred; and
* there is no real possibility that the sentence would be reduced if referred.
37. Mr Grant has been offered the opportunity to make further submissions in response to this decision. Any further information or submissions must reach the CCRC by 17 November 2011. If no further submissions are received before 17 November 2011 this decision will become final.
38. This statement sets out the CCRC's reasons in accordance with section 14(6) of the Act. This decision has been made by a Commissioner and is sighed by the Commissioner on behalf of the CCRC.
Annex Disclosure.by the CCRC
1. The CCRC has a legal duty to disclose any material that it has obtained during its review which would help the applicant to make his/her best case for a reference to the Court of Appeal. The material may be sent to the applicant in its original form, or as an extract or it may be summarised in the Statement of Reasons.
2. The CCRC may, in its discretion, provide other material where it considers it appropriate.
3. In this case, the CCRC has not sent Mr Grant any material other than the Statement of Reasons. This is because the information relied on by the CCRC in its consideration of the case is adequately summarised in the Statement of Reasons or in material already available to Mr Grant.