Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/236/25107
Rough Justice Backs Oliver Campbell
THE SOCIALIST Party has actively supported the campaign against the wrongful murder conviction of Socialist Party member Oliver Campbell. Fellow party member Tim Harris has played a key role in the campaign.
So it was good to see Oliver's injustice highlighted on the Rough Justice TV programme recently.
Rough Justice outlined the lack of evidence to support Oliver's conviction, how the police abused Oliver's mental disability and how key evidence and information was either not presented to the jury or was manipulated. The programme calls it a mistake, but all indications point to a deliberate frame-up.
In July 1990 during a robbery in Hackney, London, a shopkeeper Mr Hoondle was shot and killed. Two men described by witnesses as around five foot ten inches tall, one wearing a baseball cap, committed this crime.
Five months later Oliver, a gentle giant at 6 foot 3 inches, whose only previous crime had been to vandalise a telephone box, was arrested because he'd owned a similar cap. For eight hours after his arrest, despite having learning disabilities, he had no legal representation. This included four hours of police questioning, with on five occasions no police records.
A psychologist concluded Oliver was susceptible to police pressure. The police insisted they'd find incriminating forensic evidence, including his fingerprints on a drink can found at the crime and his hair in the baseball cap. Neither was found.
Oliver eventually got a solicitor. But at the crucial time of his 'confession', his solicitor was not present, despite specific instructions to be called.
Oliver's 'confession' said he'd dropped the hat in the shop, this did not happen. He talked of a string holster for the gun, later dismissed as impractical by experts. He can't even describe the gun or what happened to it later. In fact Oliver has never fired a gun in his life.
This confession came 25 minutes after Oliver and a police officer had chatted on the way to the cells. His foster mum who was at the interview said it sounded like a 'news story'. Oliver has since retracted this confession. But the trial judge allowed it to go to the jury without a caution due to Oliver's mental disability.
Oliver's co-accused even gave a written account that Oliver was not involved and named the culprit. The jury never knew this.
A forensic expert concluded the shot was fired by a right-handed person, Oliver is left-handed. No witnesses originally identified Oliver, yet three months later one changed his mind.
The TV team was clearly shocked by this case. Kirsty Wark handed a letter to the Home Secretary stating Oliver "should not have to wait a moment longer for justice". The Socialist Party backs this and also calls for community accountability and control of the police with prosecution for corrupt officers.
Write to Oliver Campbell MV3344, HMP Hollesley Bay Colony, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP1 3JS.
In The Socialist 11 January 2002: