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Crime Commission is to carry out probe into the convictions of two men jailed
The cases of two men convicted of one of Bradford’s most notorious murders are being investigated by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The reviews of the prosecution of the 2007 murder and torture of Bradford businessman Teddy Simpson were highlighted in a BBC Panorama programme broadcast last night – called Return of The Supergrass.
In it, programme makers, who carried out an investigation with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, contend that new supergrass laws have led to murderers, armed gangsters and international drug dealers having their time in prison cut by more than 80 per cent in return for giving evidence in Court against their criminal associates.
As part of the programme concerns were raised about deals being done under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) and ask whether the Crown Prosecution Service’s new supergrass contracts can really guard against the pitfalls of using ‘questionable‘ witnesses.
The Teddy Simpson case was used as an example, where SOCPA witness Sonny Stewart, then of Hope Avenue, Bankfoot, Bradford, implicated eight people including himself in the killing and had his charge – rather than sentence reduced.
Under the deal he pleaded guilty to manslaughter – not murder, getting a maximum sentence of seven years rather than a potential 35 years minimum term for murder.
A spokesman for the Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed they were now reviewing the prosecution of Anthony Paul Davies, then of Lloyds Drive, Low Moor, Bradford, and Errol Witter, then of Woodhouse, Leeds, who were both given life sentences for their part in the killing.
Davies applied for his case to be re-examined in November 2011 and Whitter in April this year.
The investigation is likely to take months during which time the commission has to decide whether or not there are grounds to send the cases back to the Appeal Court.
The CPS told Panorama in the programme that courts have established that informers’ jail terms would be cut by more than two thirds only in a ‘very exceptional case’.
Supergrasses were largely discredited in the early 1980s, after a series of corrupt deals, high-profile case failures, and miscarriages of justice.
But the authorities claim that supergrasses are now needed to defeat organised crime and that sentence reductions encourage offenders to break the criminal code of silence and give evidence.
Andy Cooke, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), says deals should be offered to people on the periphery of crimes – unlike what happened with Stewart in the Simpson case.
Mr Simpson had been beaten and tortured to death and dumped in Wyke, after a gang of raiders struck at his home in Sticker Lane, Laisterdyke, looking for cash. His body was found dumped at a disused nursing home on August 2, 2007.