Sion Jenkins - a miscarriage of justice?

Any one looking for an example of a miscarriage of justice might be forgiven for wondering about the rejection of Sion Jenkins claim for £500,000 damages for the prison term he served prior to his release following his appeal.

Sion Jenkins had been convicted in 1998 of the murder of his foster daughter Billie-Jo.  Billie-Jo was 13 years old at the time and had been beaten to death in 1997 with a large metal tent peg at her foster parent's home.  Jenkins was charged with her murder within days but always maintained his innocence.

Sion Jenkins, a former deputy headmaster, spent 6 years in prison for the murder but the Court of Appeal considered the conviction to be unsafe and unsatisfactory and allowed Jenkins appeal. Jenkins was released on bail pending a new trial. 

Some might argue that justice was not only denied Billie-Jo, because Jenkins was acquitted of the murder in February 2006 following two retrials when neither jury could reach a verdict, but also that Sion Jenkins was denied justice because a direction by a trial judge to the jury to acquit or return a verdict of 'not guilty' is now seen by some to be different to a 'not guilty' decision by the jury, if they had been able to reach a conclusion.  Can this be right?  Many of you who are law students may quickly ask whatever happened to the principle 'innocent until proven guilty?'

In the meantime, according to the Ministry of Justice, the rules require that applicants for compensation, under Section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, for miscarriages of justice must show that they are 'clearly innocent'. It remains to be seen whether Mr Jenkins will appeal the Ministry decision. 

Barry George, who spent eight years in prison before being acquitted of the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando has faired a little better in his pursuit of a similar compensation claim having recently won  his case for judicial review of the former Justice Secretary's decision to refuse compensation. 

This is area of the law made need clarification and maybe the Supreme Court which is due to hear three appeals next year will shed some light on the meaning of the phrase 'miscarriage of justice'. 

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