South East Wales

Cardiff Newsagent Three: Challenge over no perjury charge

Michael O'Brien
Image caption Michael O'Brien and two others had their murder convictions quashed

A man wrongly convicted of murder has launched a High Court challenge over a decision not to charge a former police officer with perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Michael O'Brien and two other men spent 11 years in jail after they were found guilty of killing Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders, 52, in 1987.

Known as the Cardiff Newsagent Three, Mr O'Brien, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood, were cleared in 1999.

A judgement will come at a later date.

Mr O'Brien applied for judicial review of a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision that there was insufficient evidence to charge retired Det Insp Stuart Lewis.

The application is being heard at London's High Court by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, who is sitting with Mr Justice Irwin.

Lord Thomas told Heather Williams QC, appearing for Mr O'Brien: "The key issue we have to consider is whether the decision that has been made by the CPS was one no reasonable prosecutor would have reached."

Image caption Philip Saunders died in hospital five days after he was attacked and robbed in 1987

Ms Williams is arguing the CPS decision was "perverse" because of a failure to take into account relevant matters and a flawed information-gathering process.

Lord Thomas ruled that the press and media can report the fact that Mr O'Brien's application is being made to the court, but not the details of the case.

Mr Saunders died five days after being attacked and robbed close to his home in Canton, Cardiff, in October 1987.

He had returned home in his van after working at his newsagent kiosk at Cardiff bus station and suffered a fractured skull.

The jailing of the Cardiff Newsagent Three is regarded as one of the UK's most notorious miscarriages of justice.

The judges said they would take time to consider their decision and hand down a full written judgment at a later date.

Lord Thomas said people were entitled to a full account "bearing in mind this matter has been going on since 1987 and obviously caused a great deal of controversy in south Wales".

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