22 year old Stacey Hyde walks free from Winchester Crown Court after five and half years in prison for an offence she did not commit
Justice for Women criticise DPP for proceeding with unnecessary and costly murder retrial of damaged and vulnerable young woman.
A jury at Winchester Crown court have today (21 May 2015) acquitted Stacey Hyde of murder following a retrial that was ordered by the court of appeal last November 2014.
Stacey, from Wells in Somerset was 17 when she stabbed Vince Francis following a violent attack by him on her and her friend Holly, the girlfriend of the victim. Despite compelling evidence that Stacey killed in self defence she was convicted of murder at her first trial in Bristol Crown Court in 2010.
Campaign group Justice for Women took up her case and a new legal team obtained fresh evidence from adolescent psychiatrists that was presented to the Court of Appeal. Stacey’s murder conviction was quashed in November 2014. She had by then served five years in custody of a life sentence with a nine year tariff. The prosecution were not willing to accept a plea to manslaughter and insisted she should face a fresh trial for murder. Although Stacey believed she had killed in self defence, she had lost her memory of key events and fearful of another traumatic trial and re-conviction for murder she was willing to plead guilty to manslaughter.
Representations were made to the Director of Public Prosecutions that the evidential test was not met and it was not in the public interest to proceed with a re-trial. Despite evidence in support of self defence, Stacey was willing to plead guilty to manslaughter. These detailed representations were rejected although the DPP refused to provide reasons for her decision.
In preparation for the retrial, the new legal team considered the evidence properly presented would support self defence. In particular a 999 call made at the time of the killing revealed that Stacey was screaming in terror thoughout the incident and that her former friend Holly Banwell, despite her evidence to the contrary, was under attack by Francis at the time of the stabbing. Evidence emerged of a history of violence towards women by Francis, including a former girlfriend, who gave similar fact evidence.
Justice for Women have slammed the prosecutor Christopher Quinlan QC for aggressively pursuing the prosecution in spite of the overwhelming evidence that undermined his case for murder. In particular, at the appeal the adolescent psychiatrist instructed by the Crown was unable to support the prosecution and instead gave evidence for the defence. Even the adult psychiatrist on whom the crown relied, found Stacey suffered from a number of mental disorders.
Quinlan vigorously opposed applications for bail following the successful appeal, to ensure that Stacey remained in custody for a further six months awaiting trial.
At the trial, he called witnesses whose evidence conflicted significantly with the 999 call. The prosecution sought to paint Stacey as a drunken flirt despite undisputed evidence that she was a victim of abuse and had been self medicating with alcohol to dull her pain.
“I would like to say thank you to Justice for Women, my legal team, friends and family for believing in me and giving me hope and strength to never give up. I will be forever grateful and blessed to have been given my life back.”
Justice for Women have supported Stacey since 2011, throughout a series of appeals. We are delighted that justice has finally been done and that Stacey will now be able to receive the support she needs instead of being unjustly punished for her own vulnerability and fear.
Justice for Women have campaigned for 25 years to highlight the adverse treatment of women by the criminal justice system. We hope that this verdict will highlight the issues that abused and vulnerable women continue to face. http://www.justiceforwomen.org.uk/
Stacey was represented at the retrial by Steve Kamlish QC and Clare Wade, Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Harriet Wistrich from Birnberg Peirce.
See earlier reports at http://www.womensgrid.org.uk/groups/?s=Stacey+Hyde