Somerset

Stacey Hyde cleared of murdering Vincent Francis in retrial

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionStacey Hyde has been cleared of murder following a retrial

A woman who spent five years in jail for murdering her friend's boyfriend has been cleared after a retrial.

Stacey Hyde, from Wells, Somerset, was jailed for a minimum of nine years for stabbing Vincent Francis, 34, in 2010.

She had told her friend she "did it" for her because of the way Mr Francis treated her, the original trial heard.

The Court of Appeal ordered a retrial after hearing Ms Hyde had a history of abuse and was extremely vulnerable at the time of the killing.

It followed a campaign by her family and an appeal supported by the legal campaign charity Justice for Women.

A jury at Winchester Crown Court acquitted Miss Hyde, 22, reversing Bristol Crown Court's original decision.

The jury in the retrial accepted she had killed Mr Francis in September 2009 in self-defence and in fear for her life.

'Self-medicating'

Speaking outside Winchester Crown Court, Miss Hyde said: "You don't want to go on anymore and you want to give up.

"But then you have amazing people around you and they keep you strong, stop you from giving up.

"And I owe these people my life because if it wasn't for them I would have gave up."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Stacey Hyde served five years in prison

Deb Webber, Mr Francis' sister, has declined to comment on the verdict.

A spokeswoman for Justice for Women said: "We are delighted that justice has finally been done and that Stacey will now be able to receive the support she needs instead of being unjustly punished for her own vulnerability and fear."

The group also criticised the previous trial where the prosecution tried to paint Stacey as a "drunken flirt despite undisputed evidence that she was a victim of abuse and had been self-medicating with with alcohol to dull her pain".

Her mother Diane Hyde said she was "very sad that someone had died".

She added: "My daughter would knowingly never hurt anyone.

"I think the reason why Stacey did take it so hard is because she genuinely didn't believe that she went out that night to hurt someone so yes, I think she will be very, very happy."

'Need the police'

The original trial in 2010 heard that Miss Hyde, who was 17 at the time of the stabbing, had been drinking heavily and returned to the flat her friend Holly Banwell shared with her partner Mr Francis.

Ms Banwell had called 999 after an alleged attack by Mr Francis. Miss Hyde picked up a carving knife and stabbed him in the back and chest.

In a recording of the call, Ms Banwell says: "My boyfriend is smashing, beating up my friend. She's a girl and I need the police, I need the police ASAP."

She continues: "There was a huge row and he hits me, and he started on... basically he hit me and he hit me, so she hit him and now he has started on her and now they are hitting each other. I need the police."

Image copyright other
Image caption Vincent Francis was stabbed to death at his flat in Wells

The Bristol court was told that after the stabbing Miss Hyde told Ms Banwell: "I did it for you because I don't like the way he treats you."

Mental health problems

The case was taken to the High Court on the grounds there was fresh evidence to support a case of diminished responsibility and reduce the conviction to manslaughter.

The defence said Miss Hyde had a history of mental health problems and abuse, and was extremely vulnerable at the time of the offence.

During the re-trial, the jury heard about Miss Hyde's mental health.

Expert witnesses for the defence and prosecution disagreed to the extent she may have suffered from a personality disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which can lead to a failure of impulse control.

The Winchester court was also told Miss Hyde had difficulty coping with stressful situations.

In 2009 she had been sent for urgent assessment for problematic use of alcohol, depression, self-harm and suicidal tendencies, the defence told the court.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "The matter was once more tried before a jury who has acquitted Ms Hyde of the offence.

"We respect the jury's decision in this case."

Image copyright other
Image caption The stabbing happened in Mr Francis' flat in Wells
Image copyright PA
Image caption Diane Hyde said her daughter Stacey did not genuinely go out to hurt anyone that night