We have got to get Leon Chapman - the Case of the Superimposed Photograph
There must be one thousand and one ways to fit-up a potential suspect by the police. Some are clumsy and inept, quite transparent to a jury, whereas others are remarkable and ingenious leaving the jury with one option, to find the defendant guilty. But whatever the case, I suggest, there is always one devious and depraved detective in the enquiry team who is willing to go to any lengths to dupe a gullible jury into accepting the fabricated evidence. Normally, he or she is the one that should be in the dock.
Historically, this nightmare ordeal started way back in 2002 when a warrant was issued for Leon Chapman's arrest for a driving offence. Subsequently, in June 2002 he was arrested in Brussels as he prepared to board a Eurostar train to London. Due to the warrant Chapman was using a false passport in the name of Andreas Pattison which was seized and later exhibited as GS/1. As the train pulled into Victoria Station, however, Chapman slipped pass the waiting British Police and evaded arrest.
Fast forward to December 2004, Chapman was driving through Leicester Square, Central London, when he was given a routine vehicle stop check by traffic police and was astonished to find out that another warrant had been issued for his arrest in relation to an armed robbery on a major retail jewellers in Nuneaton. As a result he was processed, charged and remanded to the High Secure Unit in Belmarsh Prison.
While in, police custody, Chapman was also-quizzed~inter alia, about the importation of arms and due to insufficient evidence which will be explained later he was bailed to come back at a later date. In short, various police forces were queuing up to speak to Chapman about a catalogue of crimes across the UK. It was like the Keystone Cops and an Ealing Comedy all in one.
At the trial for the jewelery robbery, Chapman provided solid alibi evidence as to his whereabouts on the crucial day of the offence and the jury was sent out to consider its verdict. Then an amazing incident occurred.
As a male juror was coming through the airport style metal detector at the entrance to the court, the senior officer in
the case, whispered to him, "We have got to get Chapman!" Full credit to the juror, he sent a private letter to the trial judge and explained the illegal and improper approach to subvert the outcome of his decision. Chapman was given the option of continuing with the same jury or a retrial. He elected the former and was justifiably acquitted.
The police were fuming, so much so, they immediately rearrested Chapman as he was leaving court and was quizzed about a string of other offences including robberies in the UK.
While this was happening, the CPS told DS James Boyd of the Metropolitan Police Terrorist Unit that there was insufficient evidence to charge Chapman for the importation of arms offence. All in all, it was like a turkey shoot and the police were scrabbling for evidence, any evidence to charge Chapman with more offences.
What Chapman did not know, however, was DC James Boyd, as he was then known, was a member of the infamous Rigg Approach Flying Squad in East London in the 1990s where 25 officers faced allegations of corruption, dishonesty and perverting the course of justice.
The principal allegation was some officers at Rigg Approach were proactive in committing offences of dishonesty, these included the possession of a "First Aid Kit" which contained a balaclava and an imitation firearm which could be planted on an unarmed suspect who had been shot in good faith, or to enhance a case where the evidence was circumstantial but not overwhelming.
Although DC Boyd was not one of the 25 officers disciplined or charged, he was among a larger group of officers who possessed a "general awareness" of the "First Aid Kit" and its dark purpose, but made no attempt to prevent the use of this hideous and improper practice.
Against this background of gurgling resentment and sour grapes, it is suggested, DS James Boyd orchestrated his "last throw of the dice."
The basic details of the offence were on the 21st April 2002, a cross-channel ferry arrived at Felixstowe from Rotterdam.
Port Customs Authority pull aside a flat bed lorry carrying a black VW Golf vehicle bearing no registration plates. The
car was inspected and found to contain a large haul of plastic explosive, remote detonation devices, rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades, submachine guns, handguns and silencers.
The police quizzed two people who accompanied the vehicle and found out that they were innocently recruited through the Yellow Pages to travel to Holland to collect the vehicle and bring it back to the UK. Sensing something was not right in relation to the given task they notified the Port Authorities at Felixstowe.
Further investigation by the Anti-Terrorist Squad revealed the accident damaged VW Golf was purchased by a mysterious Moroccan called Karim Feddahi. He purchased the vehicle from Snijder's Yard in Gronsveld, near Maastricht, Holland, on the 26th March 2002 in order to drive it back to his native Morocco and sell it.
The next day, however, Feddahi was approached by two men, one Moroccan who spoke Arabic and another black man who spoke English. They offered to buy the VW Golf from him for cash which provided Feddahi with a quick profit.
Dutch law dictates, however, that the seller of a vehicle must obtain photographic identification as proof of purchase. The men returned 30 minutes later with a photocopy of a Dutch pass¬port in the name of Mr Van De Haar and bought the Golf. Almost a month later the vehicle landed on British soil and the substantive arms cache was discovered by the Port Authority.
Telephonic communication and data were examined between those that were innocently recruited to collect the vehicle in Holland and a man called Earl Bailey who was placed under police surveillance to log and locate his associates.
Subsequently, Bailey was arrested, charged and was in prison custody for six months before Chapman was stopped in his vehicle in Leicester Square, Central London. Immediately, Chapman denied any involvement in the importation of arms offence and volunteered to go on an identification Parade with the seller of the vehicle.
A senior Police Inspector identification officer and lawyer for Chapman flew out to Germany to conduct a VIPER identification procedure. The witness Feddahi was shown a total of nine images, one of them being the suspect Chapman, but it produced a negative identification.
Amazingly, in breach of strict PACE Codes of Practice in relation to Identification Parades, the Inspector conducted another parade using still photographs images of volunteers and Chapman, proclaiming the suspect had changed his appearance since the purchase of the vehicle. This also produced another negative identification.
Not only was this procedure unlawful and improper, but it was fast becoming clear that if the police were so brazen about breaking laws of procedure and practice in the open, what were they capable of doing behind the scenes.
The elite Police Forensic teams had already swabbed the vehicle and its illicit cargo for DNA and also checked for fingerprints, but it was negative in regard to Chapman. Nor were there fingerprints on the documents of the vehicle. Nor was there any telephone data or evidence linking Chapman to the offence.
The case appeared to be dead in the water until DC James Boyd flew out to Germany to retrieve the photocopied proof of purchase document from Feddahi (Appendix B) which he later exhibited as JB/S.
What happened next is a matter of dispute, but Chapman suggests, in order for DC Boyd to charge Chapman with the importation of arms offence, he deliberately superimposed the earlier pass¬port photograph of Andreas Pattison (Chapman) with that of Mr Van De Haar (not Chapman) on the proof of purchase document and this was enough to put Chapman on trial for the alleged crime.
One of the major telltale signs of a veritable police fit-up at trial is when the police and prosecution place impenetrable obstacles in the way of legitimate disclosure information. The last thing the police want to do is to provide the defence with appropriate background checks of the main prosecution witness, especially if there is something dubious about him. All the defence knew of Feddahi was he was a mysterious Moroccan who had a conviction for being concerned in the supply of heroin.
For all the defence knew, Feddahi could have been a state paid and registered police informant, an undercover police officer, an agent provocateur, a Government agent, suspected terrorist or a renowned international gun-runner, for he was given all the grace and favour of an anonymous witness at trial, as he gave evidence via video-link from Germany as he refused to come to the UK.
More disturbingly, one wonders if Feddahi was working with the original Van De Haar passport document in Germany (Appendix B) and the court were referring to the overlaid and copied fabricated document JB/S in the UK. For let's be frank, it was the perfect scenario to dupe the court, as the judge, counsel defendant and jury cannot visually inspect the small print of a document via video-link.
To add insult to injury, the Dutch Police had seized the Bill of Sale document (Appendix A) from Feddahi which was extensively handled by the suspects in the completion of the required details. This would not only provide fingerprints of Feddahi and the offenders but also allow a handwriting comparison to be conducted. Alas, this vital document went missing in transit to the UK. Who was responsible for-the collection of this document? You have guessed it, DC James Boyd.
Not one to hide behind the screen in the dock at court, Chapman gave evidence and stated on 26th March 2002 he did not purchase the VW Golf and he was not in Holland at the time of the offence. But the damage was done, in July 2006, Chapman was wrongly convicted of conspiracy to possess prohibited weapons and ammunition and an explosive substance for an unlawful purpose. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
There is no dispute in my mind that Chapman would not be in prison today if the Anti-Terrorist detective with the dark past and purpose had not unlawfully inserted Chapman's photograph onto the proof of purchase Van De Haar passport document. The jury obviously believed that Chapman was one of the two men that bought the vehicle and come to a 11 to 1 majority verdict.
There is no doubt that Chapman has been in the cross wires of the police for a long while, as seen in their relentless quest to arrest, charge and imprison him, but there is one thing he can categorically state: he is not an international arms smuggler as it would be completely out of character for him to allow himself to become involved in such a repugnant and repellent crime.
In the aftermath of the wrongful conviction, Chapman submitted an Appeal against Conviction to the Court of Appeal, but they refused leave to Appeal.
As one door closed in the face of Chapman another one has opened in the form of an application to the Criminal Cases Review Committee (CCRC) to reinvestigate his case.
All Chapman asks, is that the CCRC employs its special investigative powers under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 to disprove the provenance and integrity of the overlaid and copied Van De Haar proof of purchase document (JB/5).
It may mean travelling to visit the Dutch Police and possibly conducting a paper test on JB/5 to ascertain whether or not this type of paper was ever in circulation in Holland circa 2002.
Arguably, it is hoped, these new lines of enquiry will not only resolve and remedy a deliberate miscarriage of justice but the cross wires of suspicion will refocus upon the previously discredited former Rigg Approach officer.
Att: Maslen Merchant
Hadgkiss, Hughes and Beale
OX 10788 Moseley
Dear Mr Merchant, DS James,Boyd and Leon Chapman
Thank you for your letter of 22nd November 2011. I enclose a document dated 26th August 1999 which sets out the position as at that date in respect of officers at Rigg Approach. So far as I am aware there is no change in either
the categories of officers, nor membership thereof.
DC James Boyd, as he then was, fell within Category 2 - the so-called "General Taint". So far as I am aware he did not face trial prior to 1999; As to developments since, that is a matter for those involved with the prosecution of your case.
It may assist you to know that a chap called Mike Procter recently dealt with a Rigg Approach appeal on behalf of the CCRC. At our Appeals Unit in London the case was dealt with by lain Wicks at London HQ. I pass on these details because it may save time by referring the matter to those persons in their respective organizations.
Crown Prosecution Service, Complex.Casework·Centre
Rigg-approach - disclosure of allegations and outcome of criminal investigation into allegations set out in, paragraph 2 below
1. The Complaints Investigation Bureau of the Metropolitan Police have been investigating allegations of corruption, dishonesty, and perverting the course of justice 'allegedly committed by officers whilst attached to the Flying Squad office, based at Rigg Approach. As a result, approximately 25 officers have either been charged with criminal offences, suspended from, duty, or would have been had they not already retired. The Crown currently does not seek to advance these officers as witnesses of truth.
2.During the course of the investigation, evidence emerged concerning a further, larger group of police officers based at Rigg Approach. Whilst there was no allegation that this second group were proactive in committing offences of dishonesty, corruption or perverting the course of justice, the information suggested that there was a general awareness that a bag containing items such as an imitation firearm and balaclavas was available, either to protect the position of an officer who had shot an unarmed suspect' in good faith (and thereby to provide a justification for his action), or to enhance a' case where the evidence against a defendant was circumstantial but not overwhelming. The further information indicated that the items were not referred to overtly at firearms related briefings, rather that the officers conducting any briefing would ensure that they were to hand if the need arose. There was no evidence which suggested that this larger group of officers played any part at any time in the use of the items in the manner described, but an inference could have been drawn that they were aware of their availability and the intended use. Notwithstanding this, it was alleged they made no attempt to prevent the practice.
3. A Police Complaints Authority supervised investigation has been conducted by CIB 2 into this general allegation set out in paragraph 2 above. All officers who could, by virtue of their dates of employment at Rigg Approach, have fallen within the parameters of the allegation in paragraph 2 have been interviewed (save one who is ill) and the police have also interviewed other Rigg Approach staff, and, have carried out other investigations. The Police Complaints Authority have issued an Interim Certificate.
National Headquarters of the CPS have subsequently advised that on the material presently available there is no realistic prospect of a conviction against any of these officers in connection with the allegations outlined in paragraph 2. The Police Complaints Authority have decided that no officer will face any discipline proceedings arising out of the "general taint allegation".
4. The Crown will oppose any application by the defence to cross examine any of these officers as to credit concerning these resolved allegations relying upon R' v Edwards (1996) 2 Cr. App. R. 345 and R v Guney (27 February 1998).