Susan May: Murder case woman dies before appeal ruling

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Media captionSusan May had said a new fingerprint report into her case was "the best thing that had happened in 21 years"

A woman who hoped new evidence could overturn her murder conviction has died, weeks before a decision on whether to grant her an appeal.

Susan May, 68, spent 12 years in prison after being convicted of murdering her aunt Hilda Marchbank at her home in Royton, Greater Manchester in 1993.

A new report stated "bloody handprints" said to link her to the crime were not made in blood.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) was considering a third appeal.

The report by fingerprint expert Arie Zeelenberg, described by Ms May last month as "all-important", was passed to the body in April.

Ms May had been suffering a recurrence of cancer and her supporters had urged the CCRC to prioritise her case, but she died on Wednesday night.

Campaigner Geoff Goodwin said: "Susan fought every day for 20 years to see justice for her aunt and herself.

'Fight continues'

"The wheels of justice move very slowly when you're fighting the system, and she will now not hear a court declare her conviction quashed.

"But we will keep going and we're determined to make sure everyone knows she's innocent."

He paid tribute to her "grace", adding: "For all that she should rile and complain about, she remained quiet, calm, peaceful and generous.

"In fighting her own case she understood that there were other people in the same position and she drew alongside them, writing, phoning and going to their meetings."

Ms May, who was the first person in the UK to be released at her earliest parole date without admitting guilt, has had two failed appeals. The campaign to clear her name is backed by 100 MPs and peers.

Fingerprint analyst Mr Zeelenberg, former head of the Dutch national police fingerprint service, examined previously unseen high resolution photographs of the marks on the wall said by the prosecution to be "bloodstained handprints".

His report concludes: "There is no evidence that the finger marks... attributed to Susan May were placed in blood.

"In fact there is overwhelming evidence that they were not comprised of blood but instead of sweat and a minor residue of another unknown substance."

The Friends of Susan May will hold a memorial service on 16 November.

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