England

Convicted killer Paul Cleeland's new bid to clear name dismissed

Paul Cleeland Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Paul Cleeland says he has always maintained his innocence

A man who served 25 years in jail for killing a friend has failed in the High Court to get his conviction reviewed.

Paul Cleeland, from Folkestone in Kent has insisted since his 1973 conviction he was innocent of gunning down Terry Clarke in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

For more than four decades, he has been back to court in bids to prove he did not fire two lethal shotgun rounds.

He failed to overturn a Criminal Cases Review Commission decision not to refer the case to the Appeal Court.

Over the years, he has claimed to be the victim of a "monstrous fabrication".

Suspected gangland boss Mr Clarke was shot twice after returning home from a bar on 5 November 1972.

Little chance of success

There was no eyewitness evidence against Cleeland and the only motive put forward by the police was that he had had an argument with Mr Clarke two years earlier.

At Cleeland's first trial in April 1973, the jury could not reach a verdict.

But a retrial later that year saw him convicted of murder and sentenced to life in jail, with a minimum tariff of 20 years.

In April last year, the Criminal Cases Review Commission said there was no "real possibility" of his conviction being overturned.

Cleeland insisted the commission had failed to investigate his case properly and had ignored fresh evidence.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Holroyde ruled he had no cause for complaint and described the prosecution case as strong.

There was little chance the Court of Appeal would clear his name, he said.

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