Wendy Sewell murder: Pathology report 'contradicts conviction'

Don Hale and Stephen Downing Don Hale successfully campaigned to free Stephen Downing after he was convicted of the murder of Wendy Sewell

Related Stories

A retired police officer has reported Derbyshire police to the Home Office over claims they withheld evidence in a 1973 murder case.

Bakewell man Stephen Downing was convicted in 1974 for killing Wendy Sewell but that was overturned in 2002.

Chris Clark said he has uncovered a crucial pathology report showing she was strangled, which was never told to the jury.

The Home Office said it would send any new criminal evidence to the police.

Evidence of police misconduct would be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Home Office added.

Derbyshire police said the case was closed after a reinvestigation in 2002.

Mr Clark, a retired Norfolk police officer, said he has sent his findings to the Home Office after obtaining the original pathology report last month.

He said he believed the report showed Mrs Sewell had clear signs of being strangled.

She was found battered in a Bakewell cemetery in 1973 and died in hospital two days later.

Mr Downing admitted beating her with a pickaxe handle but later retracted that statement, only to be found guilty by a jury.

Peter Sutcliffe Retired policeman Chris Clark said Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, could be connected with Wendy Sewell's murder

"I'm reporting the facts as I see them. The pathologist had evidence in his report that could have exonerated Stephen Downing," Mr Clark said.

He said the pathologist's report showed bruising on her neck consistent with a "knotted ligature" used to garrotte her and a rash in her lungs and airways, possibly caused by strangulation.

Mr Clark said none of this was used in Mr Downing's trial. He added the evidence may mean her death was linked to the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

Mr Downing was 17 at the time of Mrs Sewell's murder but was assessed as having a mental age of 11.

His father Ray Downing and Matlock Mercury editor Don Hale campaigned for his release and in 2002 the Court of Appeal found his conviction unsafe because of "procedural reasons".

Mr Hale said the pathology report directly conflicted with the evidence the police presented at the time and called for an independent investigation into the murder.

"This information was available within two or three days of Mr Downing being arrested and it completely contradicts this so-called confession," he said.

But Derbyshire police said the murder was reinvestigated following the quashing of the conviction and it considered the matter closed.

"All possible lines of inquiry were exhausted during the re-investigation. Twenty two people were ruled out of the enquiry but officers were unable to eliminate Stephen Downing as a suspect," a spokeswoman said.

She added there was no evidence to suggest Peter Sutcliffe - the Yorkshire Ripper - was involved.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Derby

Weather

Derby

18 °C 15 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    East Midlands Today 13:25: Angelina Socci Presenter

    On BBC One at 13:30, volunteers from Derby who were told to stop picking up litter until they'd been given training have handed back their equipment to the local council.

     
  2.  
    Knife robbery on city street 13:20:

    A woman had her phone stolen after being threatened with a knife as she walked through Derby yesterday.

    Police said the 19-year-old was targeted at the junction of Mercian Way and Forester Street shortly after midnight.

     
  3.  
    Horsley horse rescue 13:08:

    Fire crews rescued a horse that had become stuck in a ditch in Horsley this morning.

    Horse rescue

    The team worked alongside a vet to rescue the animal, named Cilla, and reunite her with her owner.

     
  4.  
    Latest headlines 12:55: Alex Howick Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    Work to widen the M1 in Derbyshire is likely to last until next autumn. I'll bring you the full story in my 13:00 bulletin.

     
  5.  
    Roadworks annoy traders 12:38:

    BBC News Online says some traders in Bakewell believe work to replace gas mains should have been scheduled for a different time of year.

    Steven Craig, from the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, said: "A much better alternative for us would be February or January when there's so little trade it's untrue."

     
  6.  
    Striker's loan extended 12:28:

    Alfreton Town have extended the loan of Sheffield United striker Joe Ironside for a further two months.

    The Blades have also given the club permission to play Ironside in this season's FA Cup.

     
  7.  
    Cover image 12:10:

    Our latest Facebook cover photo was taken by Bob Riach at Ladybower Reservoir.

    Facebook cover photo

    If you've taken any great pics of Derbyshire, we'd love you to email or tweet them to us.

     
  8.  
    News on the hour 11:55: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 12:00 bulletin I'll have the latest on drivers on the M1 in Derbyshire facing months of delays while improvements are made.

     
  9.  
    Waiting for rain 11:43: Sara Blizzard BBC Weather

    There are quite a few showers sitting to the south of us so there's a chance we could see some heavy thundery downpours later.

    There aren't too many close by at the moment though, and I think the majority are going to head off towards the West Midlands.

     
  10.  
    Tributes to former mayor 11:36:

    The former mayor of Chesterfield, Trudi Mulcaster, has died after a long illness.

    Trudi Mulcaster

    Mrs Mulcaster, who worked as a teacher and Liberal Democrat councillor, served as mayor in 2006/7.

     
  11.  
    Scotland says 'no' 11:12:

    Andrew Griffiths, Conservative MP for Burton, tweets: "Very pleased we are are all still one country. Now let's have fairness for England- English votes for English MPs please Prime Minister!"

     
  12.  
    News on the hour 10:59: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    The National Grid says work being done in the centre of Bakewell is "essential", following criticism from traders.

    I'll have more on this in my 11:00 bulletin.

     
  13.  
    Paper relaunches 10:49: BBC Radio Derby

    The Derby Telegraph is relaunching tomorrow with a stronger focus on content for women.

    Editor Neil White said: "It's going to be a bit more female-facing, with more of a magazine feel."

     
  14.  
    Shirebrook crash 10:40:

    An accident has closed the B6407 Common Lane in Shirebrook, warns BBC Travel News.

     
  15.  
    Flying the flag 10:25: Rob Watts Reporter, BBC Radio Derby

    Here's the Derbyshire flag being hoisted outside Ripley Town Hall ahead of our Derbyshire Day celebrations on Sunday.

    Derbyshire flag

    And that wasn't the only place we've managed to get the flag up this morning....

     
  16.  
    M1 project 10:14: BBC Radio Derby

    Motorists have been warned planned improvements to the M1 in Derbyshire will cause delays until autumn 2015.

    The £225m project, between junctions 28 and 31, will see the road widened and new communication technology installed.

     
  17.  
    Latest headlines 09:59: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 10:00 bulletin I'll have more on roadworks annoying traders in Bakewell.

     
  18.  
    Hundreds of Tesco jobs 09:45: Burton Mail

    Tesco is adding to Burton's jobs boom with the creation of more than 260 positions as part of its multi-million pound new-look superstore.

     
  19.  
    Scotland stays in the UK 09:35:

    Pauline Latham, Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, tweets: Delighted with the results of #indyref, and hope this marks a bright new era for the union. We are #bettertogether

     
  20.  
    Blood bikes 09:23:

    A charity which uses volunteers on motorbikes to transport blood between hospitals has extended its service to Burton.

    Blood bike

    Shropshire and Staffordshire Blood Bikes say they can save the NHS thousands of pounds a year by providing the courier service free of charge.

     
  21.  
    Roadworks anger traders 09:12: BBC Radio Derby

    Some traders in Bakewell have complained business is down by 50% since major roadworks began in the centre of town last month.

    The National Grid said the gas mains replacement work was essential and would not need to happen again for another 80 years.

     
  22.  
    Top headlines
     
  23.  
    News on the hour 08:58: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    Traders in Bakewell say business is down by 50% since major roadworks started there last month.

    I'll bring you the full story in my 09:00 bulletin.

     
  24.  
    Heavy rain warning 08:49:

    The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for rain in Derbyshire from now until 23:45.

    It says many places will miss the heavy showers but others could see flooding, lightning and hail.

     
  25.  
    Imam backed over IS letter 08:33:

    Muslims in Derby have been telling the BBC they support the actions of a local imam signed an open letter to Islamic State militants calling on them to release the kidnapped British aid worker, Alan Henning.

    Alan Henning

    Mufti Fazal Ahmad, who preaches at Derby's Jamia mosque in Normanton, put his name to the letter which describes the actions of the kidnappers as "senseless" and "despicable".

     
  26.  
    Bakewell roadworks 08:22: BBC Radio Derby

    Traders in Bakewell have described roadworks there as 'atrocious'.

    Gas mains are being replaced in the town centre leading to queues on all major routes.

     
  27.  
    Foggy start, brighter later 08:10: Sara Blizzard BBC Weather

    Fog and drizzle will slowly lift to give us some brighter intervals and sun.

    It will stay dry for most but there is a chance of heavy showers throughout the day with highs of 21C (70F).

     
  28.  
    Good morning 08:00: Gavin Bevis BBC Local Live

    I'll be bringing you all of today's news, sport, travel and weather updates.

    Email or tweet us if you'd like to contribute a photo or comment on any subject.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.