Risca killers denied early release Gwent News Wednesday 1st April 2009
Men lose appeal on taxi murders BBC Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Justice for John Roden and Michael Attwooll
John Roden and Michael Attwooll were jailed for life in June 1995 for the killing of Mike Attwooll's business partner, Gerald Stevens and Steven's lover Christine Rees at the office of the taxi firm owned by Mike Attwooll and Gerald Stevens in Risca, South Wales in May of 1994. The corpses of Stevens and Rees were found with very severe cuts from a machete inflicted before bullets were put through their heads.
The only evidence against John was that from a convicted drug addict with a history of mental illness, who it was claimed whispered to another prison inmate that 'he knew who did the killing' and then implicated John, despite no factual or DNA evidence John was put before the court by the Gwent police. The use of such intrinsically unreliable witnesses in dubious circumstances has been a common feature of many miscarriages of justice. Usually it is used to bolster weak cases but in John's case it is the only evidence against him - all other circumstances relating to John suggest he could not have been involved.
John's mother Mary has constantly campaigned along with her family since the conviction. The organisation, South Wales Liberty has been active in the campaign for both Mike Attwooll and John Roden since 1996. Both Mike O'Brien, one of the "Cardiff Newsagent Three", and Paddy Joe Hill one of the "Birmingham Six", (who won their appeals against wrongful conviction) have given their support in the media and urged anyone with information to come forward. The local newspaper The Argus have been supportive and reported all the campaign meetings Mary has organised.
The campaigning is now in its 11th year and John's case has been under review at the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) for eight years overall. The original submission to the CCRC was rejected in 2003, and the new submission has been with them for the last two years.
60 year old Mary Roden, John's mother is not happy with the CCRJ: " "John has waited eight years for an appeal and it's annoying. The CCRC just keeps putting things off. There is no forensic evidence against John. My son's spirits are low and it's killing me."
Asked to comment a CCRC spokesperson said: "We can't comment in detail but I can confirm that both cases are currently under review. Although no decision has been made on either case at this stage, our job is to review cases and decide whether or not there is any new evidence or argument, which might cast doubt on the safety of a conviction. If we find there is and decide that there is a real possibility that the conviction would be quashed we send the case back for a new appeal."
Writing from HMP Gartree to the 'Wales on Sunday' John Roden said: ""There was no evidence against me, no forensics (sic) or DNA. My life is now in the hands of other people, not a jury this time, but the CCRC. I am not asking them to unlock the door, shake my hand and say, "Off you go." I am asking for the chance to take my case to the Court of Appeal. Yes, I'm angry and annoyed but I cope one day at a time."
This case is now on course to set a new record for the longest miscarriage of justice in Wales, the 'Cardiff Newsagent Three' spent 11 years behind bars before being cleared by the court of appeal. Michael O'Brien, one of the "Three", now has a date for the trial against South Wales police for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in a public office the trial is due to start on the 23rd of October 2006.
Mary and John Roden would be grateful for support and any constructive suggestions anyone can offer on the way forward.
Contact can be made through the courtesy of: