A young man wrongly convicted of murder when he was 17-years-old has today won his appeal after 7 years in prison. Sam Hallam, now 25-years-old from Old Street in East London, has always protested the conviction and said he was innocent. A campaign by his family and friends, including actor Ray Winstone, have fought for his appeal since 2005, questioning the flimsy evidence used in the initial trial. Hallam was found guilty of the murder of Essayus Kassahun, an Ethiopian refugee and trainee chef, who was stabbed in the head trying to defend his friend during an attack by 40 youths on the St Luke’s estate, Hoxton, in October 2004. He received a life sentence at the 2005 trial at the Old Bailey, and was ordered to serve a minimum of 12 years. No CCTV or forensic evidence was used to convict Hallam, only disputed eye-witness statements. Paul May, who lead the appeal campaign, said a key witness made a statement to police that Mr Hallam was at the scene but in court testified he could not identify him as having been present. Two other witnesses who gave evidence said they saw a white youth with blond hair. Mr Hallam has dark hair. A witness questioned in court about the accuracy of her identification of Mr Hallam said the most she could say for sure was that “if it wasn’t him, I saw someone who looked like him”. Hallam has always claimed that he was half a mile away playing football with a friend at the time of the attack. In an interview with the Islington Tribune in 2009, Hallam said he was the victim of a “rubbish” criminal justice system, adding that he would never admit to a crime he “did not commit”, even though doing so might increase his chance of being eligible for parole. Hallam’s first appeal in 2009 was unsuccessful, and his case was referred to the criminal cases review commission (CCRC), who have spent three years examining the evidence. As a result of their finding Thames Valley Police were instructed to re-examine the original investigation, which unearthed the basis for the successful appeal today, including at least six new statements from people who witnessed the attack on Mr Kassahun and are prepared to testify that Sam was not present. Thames Valley Police found that the original inquiry failed to analyse mobile phone cell site evidence, or CCTV footage, both of which have been considered conclusive evidence in other cases. The investigation, headed by Detective Chief Inspector Michael Broster has been found to be of poor quality and without control. Broster has also been under extensive criticism in recent weeks following his role in the 2010 Gareth Williams case as the liaison point between the police at MI6. Sam Hallam will be released on unconditional bail today after the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. Following the successful appeal Hallam's barrister has called the wrongful conviction "a disgraceful miscarriage of justice - a complete scandal".
Sam Hallam wins appeal against murder conviction after 7 years in prison