Ex-gang member Dwaine George cleared of 2002 murder on appeal

Image caption,
Dwaine George has always denied being involved with the murder

A former gang member who was sentenced to life for the shooting of a teenager has been cleared of his murder at the Court of Appeal.

Dwaine George, 30, was jailed in 2002 after teenager Daniel Dale was shot dead in Miles Platting, Manchester.

He denied involvement and analysis of his case by Cardiff University law students led to his successful appeal.

Presiding judge Sir Brian Leveson said the conviction was "no longer safe" and praised the students' "diligent" work.

Mr George was a member of the Cheetham Hill gang and was convicted on the basis of particles of gunshot residue.

He appealed against the conviction in 2004, but failed on that occasion, and was released on licence from prison after 12 years.

The students were working for the Innocence Project, which was set up to represent people it believes were wrongly convicted.

Sir Brian, president of the Queen's Bench Division, expressed "gratitude" to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which referred Mr George's case to the court.

He also thanked the Cardiff Law School students, who "took up the appellant's case and pursued it so diligently".

Gunshot evidence

Mr Dale, who had never been in trouble with the police, was shot as he chatted with friends in the street in 2001.

He was found collapsed in an alleyway off Farnborough Road at Miles Platting.

He had been due to be called as a crown court witness over the killing of his 16-year-old friend Paul Ward, who was stabbed to death in Cheetham Hill earlier in the year.

Mr George, formerly of New Moston, was found guilty in April 2002 of murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life after a trial at Preston Crown Court.

Innocence projects

  • The first Innocence Project was founded at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, New York, in 1992 to help prisoners claiming wrongful conviction to challenge DNA evidence
  • A project typically sees students from a law department investigate an alleged miscarriage of justice and can see them working with other specialist departments at a university
  • The first UK project was set up at the University of Bristol in 2005, with the second one founded in Cardiff. There are currently 30 UK projects

At the Court of Appeal, Sir Brian said the CCRC had obtained its own scientific evidence.

It referred the case on the grounds there was "a real possibility" the evidence of gunshot residue "does not now attract the value attributed to it at trial, and therefore does not support the identification evidence".

The CCRC also questioned the admissibility of voice identification evidence.

Mr George's case was prepared by the Innocence Project at Cardiff University.

Innocence Projects began in the USA, where university law departments and other disciplines have helped clear people following miscarriages of justice.

Mr George contacted the Innocence Network UK in 2005, which examined his case and referred it to Cardiff.

The CCRC said the Cardiff project had "made a very significant contribution to the case and to the referral of Mr George's convictions".

Students at the university began working on Mr George's case in 2006. About 30 were involved in their four-year investigation and some have since gone on to become qualified solicitors.

A spokeswoman for the law school said that "after almost ten years of investigative work by students and academics on dozens of cases in innocence projects in more than twenty universities across England and Wales, this judgment was the first appeal success".

Professor Julie Price said it was "a significant day".

"It demonstrates that universities are about more than research, and can show public impact from innovative teaching and learning," she said.

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