West Midlands Against Injustice (WMAI)

A mutual support group for relatives and supporters of people convicted for a crime of which they are innocent, and whose case happened in the West Midlands area. It is open to all relatives, friends and supporters of those who have been wrongly convicted


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The Case of Hyrone Hart

'I will have the truth uncovered and the real perpetrators bought to justice'
 
My name is Hyrone Hart and I am a Jamaican national, born on the 13th September 1971. I am also the father of two children. I arrived in the United Kingdom, for a visit, on the 27th March 1998 at the invitation of my Aunt. I was initially refused entry by immigration officers at the airport but they eventually granted me 24 hours leave and then I was allowed access to UK soil. During this time I took the decision to stay illegally on a somewhat permanent basis.

Around 5 months later, on the 5th August 1998, I was arrested, in Birmingham, on suspicion of offences committed in London and was then subsequently transported to London and interviewed under caution at Brixton police station. In all I was subject to fourteen interviews spanning a four month period. My final interview was on the 8th December 1998 of which I was then charged with 1 x attempted murder, robbery and possession of a firearm, 1 x murder and attempted murder and robbery and possession of a firearm, 2 x murder and robbery and possession of a firearm. The police say these crimes were all linked to crack cocaine wars.

I later attended Crown Court fo a full trial begining on 22nd November 1999 and ending on 21st December 1999, at which I was found guilty on the following counts. Two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of robbery and three counts of possession of firearms.

I received two life sentences
My trial representatives submitted an application for leave to appeal which was refused by a single court judge on the 16th October 2000. I still maintain my innocence of the offences of which I was convicted of and I assert in the strongest possible terms that I am victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice. I also later asked the Criminal Cases Review Commission to review my case. Sadly they failed to further investigate my concerns or order any further forensic testing. This resulted in them informing me that, in their opinion, I had no grounds of appeal.
 
I will now give a brief background summary to my case.
In the space of about four weeks, between 15th June 1998 and 17th July 1998 there were four armed raids in the north, south and east areas of London, during the course of which, grotesque homicides were committed. Two other suspects were charged alongside myself and they were, Raymond Johnson (AKA Kurt Johnson) and Adrian Francis. I stood trial with Raymond Johnson and Adrian Francis stood trial on his own as he had an agreement with the prosecution and turned against us and provided Queens evidence. Adrian Johnson was therefore later acquitted.

The first incident which occurred was on the 15th June 1998 at 7 Whittaker Court, on the Studely Estate in South London, a flat occupied by a man known as Mervin Fuller. It was alleged that at about 21:15 hrs three black men raided his property after being let in by his girlfriend Ms. **** who answered the knock at the door. According to Ms. **** as soon as she opened the door she was grabbed by the arm and propelled back into the flat. She became aware of one of the men holding a gun and  described this man as having 'cats eyes'. I myself certainly do not have eyes like a cats. It was also alleged that the gunman ordered Mr Fuller to lie on the floor and tied him up. It was also alleged that the gunman stole Mr Fullers phone and put it in his pocket. The men, it was alleged, demanded money and ransacked the flat looking for cash. Ms. **** was dragged to the kitchen by one of the assailants, described as Man 1, and raped. Man 3 is also said to have attempted to rape Ms. ****. Mr Fuller was then stabbed in the chest and back by Male 2. I have been labelled as Male 2 throughout and have never been accused of rape.

At an identification parade on the 8th August 1998 Ms.**** picked me out as one of the men who was at the flat on the day of the incident. Mr Fuller attended the same identification parade and picked out Raymond Johnson as being one of those present at the incident. He failed to identify myself. It was also said that a finger print found on a photograph at 7 Whittaker court matched mine. A telephone call made from Mr Fullers mobile phone, which was stolen from the flat, was traced to a phone registered to a lady believed to be my sister, who was living in Jamaica.

The second incident occurred in Brixton at 4 Crosby Walk, Cressingham Estate. It is alleged that at about 22.00 hours on the 25th June 1998 Kirk Johnson and his wife, Avril, and their children were at the above address when there was a ring on the doorbell and Mr Johnson opened the door thinking that it was the next door neighbour, the only eye witness to this incident. Mr Johnson stated that when he opened the door three black males forced their way into his flat and tied up their victims. It is alleged that the men had a gun and demanded money. The flat was ransacked during the men's search for cash and it was alleged that items of jewelery were stolen including distinctive rings and a mobile phone. Mr Johnson was said to have been stabbed in the neck when he tried to fight back. It was alleged that as the men left the premises the gunman leaned towards Avril's head and fired two shots. It was said that the two shots were aimed at both of the victims. Avril sadly died from her wounds in hospital the following day.

On the 8th August at identity parades, Mr Johnson picked out myself and Raymond Johnson. I was also identified as the man who fired the shot which killed Avril Johnson. Raymond was identified as the man who took the jewelery. Finger prints lifted at the scene related to Mr Johnson but not to myself.

The third incident occurred at residential premises on Alma Street in Stratford where the victim was a Michelle Carby. She was a single mother who lived with her three young children. Michelle Carby's body was found on the morning of 30th June 1998 on the sofa of her living room by a neighbour whose attention had been drawn to the victims address by the deceased children who were standing on the pavement looking distraught. Michelle had been shot in the head twice. There were no eye witnesses. Ballistics experts concluded from the fragments received from the scene that the same firearm used in the Crosby Walk incident had been used on the occasion at Alma Street.

The police stated that on keeping a watch on an address  in Weir Road, Balham, in London a black female Annette Jones was seen entering the flat and later emerged carry a black plastic bag which she placed in the communal bin. The black bag was retrieved by the police soon after. On examining the contents of the bag a metal ring was found, according to the police. This was later described by a friend of Miss Carby as coming from a bracelet belonging to Miss Carby. The bag, according to the police, also contained an earring matching one found by Kirk Johnson in his flat in August. The Weir Road address is one which myself and Raymond Johnson's finger prints were said to have been found. Annette Jones was my girlfriend and I occupied these premises.

The fourth incident was on the 17th July 1998 and a Mr Patrick Ferguson was killed, receiving a single shot to the head. The incident happened at Highfield Avenue, North London, in a residential property belonging to the eye witness Primrose Johnbaptiste. Her account was that she was at home with her daughter when she the door bell rang at about 20:45 pm and she met two black males at the door. They were looking for Mr Ferguson but he was not at home. Miss Johnbaptiste recalled that Mr Ferguson returned home at about 21:15pm and when told about the visitors he seemed quite edgy and left the house but came back a few minutes later. Miss Johnbaptiste recounted that the door bell rang again shortly after Mr Ferguson returned and he went to the door. Miss Johnbaptiste said she was in the bathroom with her daughter when the door rang the second time. She heard shuffling and an exchange of words between Mr Ferguson and someone. Having detected anxiety in Patrick's voice she put on a robe and when she looked out of the door she recognised one of the men as one of the two who had been to the property earlier. She saw Patrick and one of the men holding each others throat. She shouted at the men and another male, whom Miss Baptiste recognised as the other of the two who called earlier, appeared from the bedroom. Patrick and the man he was grappling with broke up and this male pulled out a gun with his left hand and fired the gun towards Patrick Ferguson, whereupon Patrick fell backwards having received a fatal shot to the head. At a later identification parade Miss Johnbaptiste failed to pick anyone out. The ballistics expert however did conclude that the cartridge case found at the Highfields Avenue address was fired from the same weapon used on the 25th June at Crosby Walk and 29th July at Alma Street where Michelle Carby was murdered.

Prosecution case is that they had strong reliance on the account and positive ID of myself by Ms.****, and the assertion that my fingerprint found on the photograph from the premises of the incident on the 15th June 1998. The Crown concluded that I was party to the offence perpetrated on the victims, Mr Fuller and Ms. ****.

Similarly, in relation to to the incident of 25th June 1998 the Crown relied on the eye witness account of Kirk Johnson and his positive ID of myself. He said I was the one who fired the gun. In addition the Crown relied on the ID of Mr Johnson of items of jewelery coming from his premises.

In contrast, the incident of 29th June 1998, when Miss Carby was murdered, yielded no eye witnesses. The Crown relied that it was the same gun used in the other crimes. The Crown also believed the case against me was strengthened by the results of a watch kept by police at the address at Weir Road. A ring retrieved from a black bag from the communal bin was later identified as belonging to the victim Miss Carby. I was later linked to that address by police by the discovery of my fingerprints at that address. This was my girlfriends address as stated earlier.

Again, in relation to the incident of 17th July 1998 I was not picked out in any ID parade. Again, reliance was put on the same firearm being used. It was also part of the Crown's case that a pair of trainers seized from the address in Junction Road in Birmingham had blood on which DNA profiling identified as being Patrick Ferguson's.

My defence is that in relation to all incidents I was neither present nor involved in the commission of the offences. I also take issue with the prosecution on every aspect of the particulars of the various offences.

In response to being picked out by Ms. **** during the ID parade, I assert that I am known to Mr Fuller and had been to Whittaker Court on two previous occasions in the company of my friend Denise Campbell who was a prolific shoplifter. I further assert that Ms. **** was mistaken when she picked me out during the ID parade and that the positive ID may have been down to the fact that she had seen me at Mr Fuller's flat before, having opened the door to me on an occasion. After her ordeal she made a mistake and identified two innocent men at the job centre and said it was them that raped her. She then failed to identify Kurt Roberts, only DNA revealed he was the attacker.

In respect of the finger print on the photograph, said to have come from Mr Fullers flat, it is my defence that on one occasion when I went to Mr Fuller's flat I was invited into the living room by him and there were two photographs on the table which I picked up and inspected.

In respect of the telephone calls made from Mr Fuller's stolen phone to my sisters in Jamaica I state that a Kishon Black whom the police arrested and found with the phone in question is known to my sisters and Kishon Black calls them at times. I therefore take issue with the suggestion that calls traced to a phone registered to my sisters in Jamaica were made by me. No witness came forward to substantiate the Crown's assertions.

In further support of my assertions that I was neither present or involved in the commission of the offences I gave the following alibi evidence.

In respect of the offence on the 15th June 1998 I stated that from or at about 17:00 hrs of that day I was with a girlfriend Annette Jones. Of the offence on the 25th June 1998 I stated that I left 38 Calendar Road, Catford at or about 19:00 hrs and arrived at 13 Weir Road between 19:30 hrs and 20:00 hrs where I remained until the following day. I further stated that during that period I was in the company of Annette Jones and others at various times in the flat.

Of the offence of the 29th June 1998 I stated that I was at 38 Calendar Road where I remained until approximately 02:00 hrs when I travelled by taxi to 13 Weir Road arriving at between 02:00 hrs and 03: 00 hrs and remaining there until the early afternoon of that day.

Of the offence of the 17th July 1998 I spent most of the day at 13 Weir Road. At between 17:00 hrs and 18:00 hrs I travelled a short distance to an address at Alderbrook Road by taxi. I remained at the address with the occupier of the property, Debbie, until some time between 10.00 hrs and 11.00 hrs when I returned  to Weir Road by taxi and remained.

No firearm was ever found. Kurt Roberts accepted guilt in part but always stressed that I was not involved in any of the crimes .

I contend that my original case for trial was ill prepared by trial solicitors in that the pertinent factors in respect of various incidents and allegations made against me were not fully appreciated and considered by my legal team. Consequently, the learned trial counsel was not able to put my case sufficiently and challenge the evidence against me.

A big part of evidence of which the prosecution relied upon was a pair of trainers linked to myself which was said to have a speck of blood on one of them. This blood was said to belong to Patrick Ferguson. The trainers were claimed to have been  found at 143 Junction Road Handsworth, where I was arrested. I had cast doubt in interview on the veracity of the police assertion that the pair of trainers were found at the address where I was arrested. Notwithstanding  having admitted  that I had a similar pair of trainers to the one in question I was adamant I had not travelled to the address with the trainers because my pair had gone missing for some time. I contend that my doubts as to the veracity that piece of evidence shows is supported by an eye witness, Mr Mannion, who said he saw the gunman and described the clothing and footwear he was wearing in clear detail and said that he wore white trainers and not blue and yellow as what was now said belong to me.

My legal team, despite requests by myself, failed to challenge any DNA evidence, including the trainers. My trial solicitors also failed, (despite requests by myself) to contact defence witnesses and to carry out full checks on possible suspects and any reasons why I would be set up.

My solicitor also prepared and served several documents and defence case statements without any input from myself. To date I have never signed anything or had the chance to review my statement. The solicitor did everything under his own volition and overlooked my instructions and suggestions as to how I wanted my case to be conducted. It is my contention that, even for the untrained legal mind, it is ludicrous for anyone to suggest that difficulties in respect of previous antecedent history was enough to invalidate the safety of the instructions.

I would also like to say that my case has a lot of similarities with R v Adams (2007) EWCA Crim 1, a case referred by the CCRC to the Court of Appeal. In the Adams case the solicitors were criticised by the Court of Appeal so as to call into question their honesty. The appeal court further stated that the failures and criticism were enough to deny Adams a fair trial. I argue that my case as the same characteristics as Adams.

Finally, I would like to say that myself and my legal team do have further evidence which shows huge police and solicitor investigation incompetence and prove certain persons wanted to see me set up and implicate myself as to the perpetrator of these horrendous crimes.

If anyone out there could assist myself in clearing my name or has any information regarding this case or factors surrounding it then I would be grateful if you could contact my solicitors: Alex Owusu. Graceland Solicitors, 315 Lewisham High Street. London. SE13 6HL

I am also seeking assistance in setting up a full website showing my entire case coming from all angles. There is much to this case of which you will all see that really does not make sense.

I will have the truth uncovered and the real perpetrators bought to justice.
 
Yours Sincerely,

Hyrone Hart
A5976Al
Hmp Frankland
Finchale Avenue
BRASSIDE
Durham
DH1 5YD