Justice for Alvin Black

dfa    My name is Alvin Black, on the 28"' April 1994, I was arrested by the Bedford Police on suspicion of robbery. I was charged and remanded in custody. I had not committed the crime. When the case came to trial in December 1994, the trial judge directed the Jury to return a not guilty verdict. The Police were incensed.

    The Police were determined not to accept the verdict - they only do that when they win! - and began a campaign of harassment and intimidation against myself. Over a period of 15 months, I was stopped in my car at least five times per week every week. This was never because I had committed any offence, but always a "routine stop check". On at least four occasions I was arrested and charged with bogus offences fabricated by Police Officers. Each charge failed in the Courts. This failure merely increased the vendetta being waged against me. It was vindictive, spiteful and very personal. The Police were hell bent on "getting Alvin Black" because they had decided that I had "got away with it", and they took this as a personal affront. The Bedford Police were determined to lock me up, no matter what it took.

    On 28"' May 1996, there was an attempted robbery at the County Hotel in Bedford. During this robbery, a German tourist was shot and killed. The fact that the victim was a German tourist - a Mrs Johanra Czardebon - brought major pressure to bear on the Police to solve the crime and quickly. The political pressure was immense. Not to mention pressure brought to bear on behalf of the tourist industry. In short, the Police had to "get" someone for the crime.

    The Police began their extremely intense investigations immediately after the shooting. Over the next month they rounded up a large number of people on suspicion of the shooting. Presumably these people all had concrete alibis and so were released without charges. As part of this process of round ups, I was arrested on 25"' June 1996. Some ten other people were arrested on the same date.

    On the morning of my arrest, all the houses to which I had access to were thoroughly searched. Nothing incriminating was found. I was questioned four times over three days. It was obvious that the Police had no evidence of any wrongdoing to put to me, they were merely on a fishing expedition. I was asked where I was on the night of the murder and replied fully. My 'alibi' was confirmed by two people independently of each other. The Police, however, seemed to have decided that I was a good candidate for a 'frame'. They needed time to put it together, though, so I was remanded in custody for a month on a spurious charge of conspiracy to rob. There was no evidence to justify the charge or remand.

    One month after being remanded, I was brought back to the Police Station and charged with the murder of Mrs Johanra Czardebon. The 'evidence' was that a pair of shoes, in a plastic bag, had been found in a garage - belonging to a Mr Thompson - and the shoes had left prints at the murder scene .... and my fingerprints were on the plastic bag. I had never been to the garage. Every forensic test known was carried out on the shoes in an attempt to link me, this failed. There was no evidence to link me to any guns or ammunition. I could not be placed at the scene - indeed, I had alibi witnesses to put me elsewhere at the time of the shooting - in fact, there was no physical or witness evidence whatever to link me with the crime.

    Of the witnesses to the crime, five were able to give descriptions of the gunman. Four out of the five stated that the man was white. I am black man, not ot mixed race - who are sometimes under difficult circumstances, mistaken for white - but a dark skinned black man. One of the witnesses who stated the man was white was Mr Czardebon, the husband of tile Murdered woman.

    Mr Dean Laley, a respected Bedford councillor, stated that minutes before the shooting he was coming out of the hotel and saw two white men lurking in the shadows of the hotel wearing what looked like rolled up balaclavas on their - heads. Mr Laley says he felt that these men were "Out for trouble".

  Despite the total lack of any evidence to link myself to the crime, despite the evidence of the witnesses who say the man was white, despite my alibi evidence .... I was deliberately Framed by the Bedford Police.

    There are many instances of wrong doing by the Police which are now coming to light. Two of the most important are these

    a) A Prosecution witness - Miss Susan Cattell - gave evidence that I had 'confessed' to involvement in the crime to her. This was a lie, (evidence has now come to light that she received inducements to give the evidence she gave.) Furthermore, it can now also be proved that this witness had previous convictions for various offences of 'dishonesty. Both these facts (were deliberately) withheld from the defence so that the Prosecution were able to present Miss Cattell to the jury as a witness of truth worthy of belief. It is now clear that Miss Cattell had also made at least two other statements, Inconsistent with the evidence she gave, which the Prosecution withheld from the defence and now claim to have destroyed!

    b) 'The only 'link' between myself and the shoes which are claimed to have left prints at the murder scene were my alleged fingerprints on the plastic bag. The Scenes of Crime Officer who claimed to have seized this has now admitted that he did not actually do so! he has since admitted that he was told to say that he had by his boss. He now claims that he protested at the order, pointing out that he did not do what he was ordered to say that he had done. He claims that he received a note from the 'incident room - the command centre of the whole investigation! - telling him he had to make the false statement. These belated admissions by Mr Christopher Zielke - exposing the conspiracy to frame myself, as they do - led to the loss of his job! (This gives rise to the suspicion that the bag which allegedly contained the suspects shoes, and Alvin's fingerprint was a 'Plant' and Mr Zielke was made to say he had seized it from there when he had not).

    I am now attempting to bring my case back before the Courts In order to overturn tile miscarriage of Justice I have suffered. Legal aid has not been granted to my solicitors to investigate and prepare the grounds of my appeal.

Alvin Black
HMP Whitemoor
Longhill Road
PE15 0PR

In November 1997, Black was jailed for life for the murder of German tourist Johanna Czardebon, 56, who was shot dead in an armed robbery at a Bedford hotel in May 1996.

In July 2001, Alvin still a serving prisoner was convicted of the murder of Timothy Nalty shot dead in his bed in the early hours of September 12th 1995.

In November 2005 Alvin appealed against the conviction of Timoth Nalty.

According to Bedford Today, 'Lord Justice Tuckey, sitting with Mr Justice Hodge and Judge Elgan Edwards, dismissed various grounds, including one relating to new evidence from a distinguished metallurgist, based in California. His report criticised the analytical methods used by a Crown expert at the trial and the significance of the expert's findings of a match between the "lead shots" inside a cartridge found at the murder scene and inside cartridges later found in a bag linked to Black. But Lord Justice Tuckey said the Appeal Court was entirely satisfied the new evidence did not cast doubt on the safety of the conviction. "The victim, Timothy Nalty, was a criminal and a police informer who apparently made many enemies," Lord Justice Tuckey said.

He said Black suspected Mr Nalty was the informer whose information led to Black's arrest for the robbery of a Royal Mail van in April 1994 - an offence for which he was subsequently acquitted. In the early hours of September 12, 1995, Mr Nalty was in bed at his Shortstown house when an intruder, wearing a balaclava, broke in and shot him at close range.

Nine months after the murder, police discovered in a Bedford garage a bag - secured by a padlock - containing three of the shotguns stolen from Mr Cilenti, together with cartridges  Black's palm print was on the bag and keys to the garage and padlock were found in Black's bedroom. His former girlfriend said Black used words which implied he had shot Mr Nalty and she said he was interested in the technique of removing panes of glass - she worked for a glazing company. One of the proposed appeal grounds complained about the trial judge allowing the jury to hear evidence of the burglary of Mr Cilenti's premises. Black's lawyers contended it was not similar to the murder scene - which involved a lone intruder rather than three men intent on stealing guns and ammunition. But Lord Justice Tuckey said the similarity involved the unusual method of entry and the three stolen guns found in a bag connected to Black. End extract from Bedford today 16/11/2005

Mr Justice Grigson, High Court of Justice 8th November 2006:

Alvin Black has been convicted of two murders, each one tried separately and each one sentenced separately. On the 6th February 1998 I sentenced Black to imprisonment for life and recommended that he serve a minimum of 20 years by way of retribution and general deterrence. That recommendation was endorsed by the Lord Chief Justice.

2. On the 2nd July 2001 HHJ Stokes QC imposed a second life sentence with a recommended minimum term of 25 years.

3. The Applicant's case must now be reviewed under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

There is no new material before the court and no submissions

Starting Point:
Murder one was the killing of an innocent bystander in the course of an armed robbery. Murder two was an assassination. Both come within the 'particularly high' category of seriousness. The starting point is 30 years. Each has aggravating features. There are no mitigating features.

Given that the term cannot be increased I can see no reason to alter the minimum term recommended in either case. Black spent no time in custody on remand solely in respect of murder two. He was already serving the sentence imposed on murder one. I fix the recommended term for murder one at 20 years and for murder two at 25 years, the 25 years to run from the date of sentence.