Randox forensics inquiry: Drug-drivers to challenge convictions

Matthew Bravender and Anderson Ward Image copyright GMP/Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Matthew Bravender, left, and Anderson Ward were both jailed for driving offences resulting in fatalities

Two road death drug-drivers are trying to get their convictions quashed amid concerns forensic evidence in their cases had been manipulated.

The pair, from Greater Manchester and Powys, Wales, want to launch Court of Appeal proceedings.

It follows an investigation at Randox Testing Services in Manchester, where two scientists were arrested on suspicion of tampering with data.

The inquiry prompted a review of more than 10,000 criminal investigations.

About 50 prosecutions have so far been dropped in what BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw described as "the biggest forensic science scandal in the UK for decades".

Matthew Bravender is appealing against his conviction after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving while over the legal limit for a prescribed drug.

Image copyright Getty Creative
Image caption Most of the 10,000 cases that could be affected involved traffic offences

The 38-year-old, of Agecroft, Greater Manchester, was jailed for five years and four months at Manchester Crown Court after 52-year-old pedestrian Alan Strong was struck and killed in April 2016.

Also challenging his conviction is Anderson Ward, 39, who was jailed for causing the death of his girlfriend in a crash while he was high on drugs.

Marie Hardes, 56, was killed after Ward lost control of a car on the M3 in Winchester in November 2014.

He was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of causing death by driving without due care while unfit through drugs, causing death by driving a vehicle unlicensed and possession of Class B and Class C drugs.

Two arrests

More appeals could soon follow as thousands of toxicology tests are re-analysed.

Three-quarters of the cases were traffic offences such as drug-driving, with the rest including violent crime, sexual offences and unexplained deaths, dating back to 2013.

Two men have been arrested and five interviewed under caution by Greater Manchester Police over the alleged manipulation by individuals working at the Randox site.

Retests have so far found no impact on cases of sexual offences, violence or murder, the National Police Chiefs' Council said.

Potential data manipulation at a separate facility, Trimega Laboratories, is also being investigated.

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