Robert Ekaireb Convicted for a Murder That Never Happened
Well and truly Shafted at trial by his barrister, shafted by the Court of Appeal, doubly shafted by the CCRC.
On 19 December 2013, at the Central Criminal Court before Judge Nicholas Cooke QC and a jury, the Claimant Robert David Ekaireb was convicted of the murder of his wife, Li Hua Cao also known as Lisa Ekaireb (“Lisa”), on or about 23 October 2006. On 7 January 2014, he was sentenced to imprisonment for life with a minimum tariff of 22 years.
No corpse was ever found (Lisa Ekaireb could still be missing, not wanting to be found), no forensic evidence of any kind, no direct evidence of foul play, all the evidence, and not disputed by the CPS, judges involved, was purely circumstantial.
Robert’s barrister Michael Wolkind QC was condemned as inadequate at trial, Robert dismissed him, halfway through his summing up to the jury. At his appeal, the judges were clear that Mr Wolkind was “patronising” and his behaviour “ill-judged.” However, despite their condemnation, they upheld the conviction, 22 years for Robert and not even a slap on the wrist for Wolkind.
At the very least the appeal judges should have quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.
They further confirmed what MOJUK has always said, barristers are under no legal obligation to argue their clients’ case in a proper and fitting manner, nor obliged to follow the client’s instructions.
Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, CJ, presiding appeal Judge said: “There is, in our view, no basis upon which an advocate can be instructed as to what to say in his closing speech by his solicitor or by his client or when to conclude it”.
Robert then made two applications to the CCRC; both were rejected. Not happy with this, he sought a Judicial review of the CCRC decision. This was heard on Friday 29 October. The CCRC did not attend and were not represented. Despite compelling arguments by his QC Phillippa Kaufmann, the court found in favour of the CCRC and dismissed the review.
Both the appeal against conviction and appeal against the CCRC, make grim reading for all those fighting Miscarriages of Justice.
[‘Boastful Barrister Fined and Reprimanded’: A barrister whose website contained the assertion he could ‘get Stevie Wonder a driver’s licence’ has been fined for making inappropriate boasts online. Michael Wolkind QC, of 2 Bedford Row, was fined £1,000 following a two-day hearing at the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service. According to the judgment, Wolfkind’s boasts were ‘likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public placed in him or in the profession’. The website, topcriminalqc.co.uk, contained statements including that Wolkind QC was ‘the UK’s top criminal barrister’. The site also claimed he was ‘widely recognised as the UK’s top murder barrister and QC; top protest case barrister and QC; top terrorism barrister and QC; top property householder self-defence rights barrister and QC and top regulatory, inquest health and safety and tribunal barrister and QC.’ According to the tribunal, these comments were made in circumstances where he was ‘unable to substantiate the assertion’. The tribunal ruled that the Steve Wonder comments, left as a testimonial by a lay client of Wolfkind’s, would also diminish the public’s trust in the profession. Wolfkind’s website came to the attention of Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the lord chief justice, during an appeal against the 2013 murder conviction of Wolfkind’s former client Robert Ekaireb. At the 2015 appeal Thomas upheld the conviction but the tribunal heard Wolkind had made ‘completely unprofessional’ personal criticism of prosecution barrister Brian Altman QC during his closing speech. Law Society Gazette]