BBC News

Kevin Lane in appeal 'fight' over Robert Magill murder

By Sally Chidzoy and David Keller
BBC News

Published
image captionKevin Lane was released in January after 18 years in prison
A convicted murderer recently released from prison has said he is determined to "fight" for justice, believing his case was flawed by a crooked detective.
Kevin Lane was found guilty of shooting dead Robert Magill with a shotgun in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, in 1994.
His argument of an "unsafe" conviction by Det Insp Christopher Spackman is being heard at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday and Thursday.
If his appeal is successful, he could be in line for compensation up to £1m.
Car dealer Mr Magill was walking his dog in the morning of 13 October 1994 when two contract killers ran out of the woods and shot him five times on Valley Road.
They made off in a BMW that was later found.
image captionPolice cordoned off the scene near woodland after the killing
image captionForensic teams scoured the scene of the shooting for evidence
Officers arrested two men for the killing - Roger Vincent and David Smith - but a palm print on a black plastic bag in the boot of the car also led them to Lane, who was living in Potton, Bedfordshire.
Lane, an amateur boxer in his mid-20s with a previous conviction for assault, accepted he had borrowed the vehicle from a friend in the weeks running up to the murder, but he was charged with the killing.
Smith was released and the judge directed Vincent's acquittal before the trial began, so Lane stood alone before a jury.
It failed to reach a verdict in the first trial, but Lane was convicted by a majority in the second.
There was no evidence directly placing Lane at the murder scene and the weapon used to kill Mr Magill was never found.
But the trial was told of the palm print evidence in the car and witnesses described seeing a tanned man, which matched Lane's appearance as he had spent time abroad.
image captionRobert Magill was shot five times as he walked his dog in Rickmansworth
Lane, who was released from prison in January after 18 years inside and now lives in Kent, said: "I was innocent from day one when I was in the dock and found guilty.
"I turned to the jury and said 'you've made a terrible mistake, I never did this'."
Nine years later, in 2003, Vincent and Smith were jailed for life for a hitman killing outside a Hertfordshire gym.
It had many similarities to the Magill shooting, from the time of the murder to another BMW being used as a getaway car. But they both denied any involvement in the Magill killing.
In the same year, Det Insp Spackman was jailed at the Old Bailey for four years for plotting to steal £160,000 from Hertfordshire Police.
image captionRoger Vincent (left) and David Smith, who were arrested for Robert Magill's murder, were found guilty of a contract killing in 2003
In the Magill case, Spackman was in charge of the disclosure of evidence to the prosecution and defence and of handling the exhibits.
As a result of his conviction, two other defendants in other cases overseen by Spackman have been freed on appeal.
The BBC has been told the case being put forward on Wednesday is that Lane's conviction for murder was "manifestly unsafe" due to the extent of Spackman's "reckless dishonesty".
It alleges Spackman, Vincent and Smith knew one another and had "off the record" meetings before Lane's trial.
image captionDet Insp Christopher Spackman worked for Hertfordshire Police at Watford Police Station
The case also alleges Spackman "gave evidence to assist" Vincent and "may have failed to produce evidence that might have harmed him".
If Lane's conviction is quashed, he could claim up to £1m in compensation.
"When I first went to prison I was very angry and somebody once said to me 'you mustn't allow this to make you bitter, Kevin'," said Lane, now aged 47.
"I came across a quote that says life shuffles the cards and we play. I thought this is my life, I must make it the best I can and get on with it and fight this conviction and overturn it.
image captionKevin Lane was in his mid-20s when arrested and convicted
"I believe Hertfordshire Police have tried to suppress my conviction as a result of what they have done in terms of 'fitting me up'.
"It's easy to take people off the street and the general public will not believe that until it happens to someone like myself - take you off the street and fit a number of circumstantial facts around you."
Hertfordshire Police declined to comment before the appeal hearing.
The BBC has been unable to make contact with Christopher Spackman, who is believed to be living under a new identity.

Related Topics

  • Rickmansworth
  • Hertfordshire Constabulary

More on this story

  • Kevin Lane murder conviction going to Court of Appeal