Sam Hallam freed on bail in murder conviction appeal

Sam Hallam was convicted in 2005

A man convicted of a chef's murder has been freed on bail after the prosecution said it would not oppose his appeal against the conviction.

Sam Hallam was 18 when he was jailed for life in 2005 for killing Essayas Kassahun, 21, in Clerkenwell, London, in a gang attack in October 2004.

Earlier, Court of Appeal judges heard Hallam, 24, was the victim of a "serious miscarriage of justice".

The court will give its ruling in the appeal case on Thursday.

Mr Kassahun died after being stabbed in the head in an attack by a group of youths on the St Luke's Estate in central London.

Cheers in court

Hallam, who has been serving a minimum term of 12 years, has always maintained he was elsewhere on the night of the killing.

His friends and family, who have been campaigning to prove his innocence, cheered from the public gallery as Lady Justice Hallett said he would be released on bail.

Start Quote

It's not just the person who goes to prison, it's their entire family who suffer”

End Quote Paul May Justice for Sam campaigner

Lady Justice Hallett turned to the dock and asked Hallam: "Do you understand what is going on? Are you sure you are all right?"

The judge explained to him that "we have to go on with the hearing", adding: "That is what we have to do."

At the end of the hearing the judge added: "There is obviously a fair bit to think about. We will give our judgement at noon tomorrow.

"May we express our appreciation to everybody who has been involved in investigating this matter, particularly the CCRC [Criminal Cases Review Commission] and Thames Valley Police, who have done an incredibly thorough job."

Supporters were waiting with the family for Hallam's release from the cells at the Royal Courts of Justice.

'Torture for Sam'

Following the hearing, Hallam's mother Wendy Cohen, from Hoxton, east London, said: "It should not have happened in the beginning, should it?

"My family has been through hell. It has been torture for Sam and the whole family."

Paul May, who led the campaign to free Hallam, said he was very pleased with the result - but sad that it could not been shared by all of Hallam's family, including his father Terry.

"Regrettably, Terry, who was a stalwart supporter of the campaign, committed suicide in 2010.

"It's a great pity he's not here to see Sam coming out today, and indeed Sam's grandmother Dolly who again was a stalwart supporter of the campaign died a little under three years ago.

"But, yes, what happens in these cases is it's not just the person who goes to prison, it's their entire family who suffer, all of their friends and indeed his supporters."

Earlier in the day Hallam's QC Henry Blaxland told the court that his client had been convicted following "a combination of manifestly unreliable identification evidence, the apparent failure of his own alibi, failure by police properly to investigate his alibi and non-disclosure by the prosecution of material that could have supported his case".

Hallam's previous attempt at appealing against his conviction was dismissed in March 2007, following which he applied to the CCRC to review his case in February 2008.

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