Somerset

DPP must rethink position, says woman cleared of murder

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Media captionStacey Hyde says her acquittal means she has a second chance at life

A woman cleared of murdering her friend's boyfriend has said the director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders must rethink her position for having insisted upon her retrial.

Stacey Hyde had spent five years in prison for stabbing Vincent Francis in 2009 when her murder conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2014.

Ms Saunders then approved a retrial for murder, in which Ms Hyde was acquitted.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it "respected the jury's decision".

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

Ms Hyde was first convicted of murder in 2010 at Bristol Crown Court, and given a life sentence with a minimum term of nine years.

'Lost faith'

Ms Hyde, 23, from Wells in Somerset, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme that Ms Saunders' decision to approve the prosecutor's request for a murder retrial in November 2014 had made her "lose faith" in the justice system.

Ms Saunders had rejected the offer from Ms Hyde's lawyers of a guilty plea for manslaughter.

Ms Hyde said she would have "given up" had it not been for the support of her family, and friends in prison.

She said her original trial was "brutal and humiliating" and she had not wanted to go through a similar experience again.

"I thought, 'I can't do another trial for someone to turn round and give me murder again because I didn't have faith in the justice system'," she said.

The retrial took place at Winchester Crown Court in May 2015, during which her defence argued she had suffered from emerging borderline personality disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which can lead to a failure of impulse control.

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

She was acquitted unanimously by the jury who heard she had acted in self-defence.

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) defended its decision to order a retrial: "The evidence was reconsidered by the CPS and a decision was made that under the code for Crown Prosecutors a prosecution for murder was still appropriate.

"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," it added.

'Crying for help'

Ms Hyde said the acquittal had given her a "second chance at life", and defended the jury's judgement that the killing of Mr Francis was made out of self-defence, given that she had stabbed him 17 times.

"It is self-defence because he strangled me, beat me, came at me with a knife. He threw me against walls, pulled out my hair. I imagine that's all I could have done," she said.

"It was from a struggle, which people don't realise. I [was] crying for help."

But, she added, she has found it difficult to come to terms with the killing of Mr Francis.

"It's the worst feeling in the world, it stays with you every single day... There was a very long time when I wished I'd just let him kill me.

"I pray for [the family] and I pray for Vince [Mr Francis]. I pray that he forgives me and I tell him that I forgive him," she said.

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