South East Wales

Cardiff Newsagent Three: High Court dismisses perjury challenge

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

A man wrongly convicted of killing a newsagent has lost his bid to see a retired police officer prosecuted for perjury.

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

Mr O'Brien claimed retired officer Stuart Lewis fabricated evidence.

On Thursday, the High Court ruled the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was right not to prosecute Mr Lewis.

Mr O'Brien told BBC Radio Wales: "I think this is the end of the road for me now. I've looked at everything with my lawyers and we have to be realistic. Are we going to get justice? I don't think so.

"Unfortunately, it's just the way the system works. I could take it to the European Court and I probably would get justice but it could take another five years. Do I really want to go down that road? The answer is no.

"This is absolutely the final frontier for me. I've done everything I could. Everybody knows my story. The evidence is out there.

"I've got nothing to prove to anybody. I'm an innocent man. I'm not going to get justice... but I'm going to have to leave it at that. I just need to move on."

After being convicted and jailed over the killing, Mr O'Brien, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood - known as the Cardiff Newsagent Three - were cleared in 1999.

In October Mr O'Brien launched a High Court challenge over a decision not to charge the former detective inspector with perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He had applied for judicial review of a CPS decision that there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr Lewis.

The application was heard at the High Court in London by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Irwin.

'Reasonable and correct'

At the earlier hearing, 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."

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

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMichael O'Brien tells Peter Johnson he is giving up his legal challenges

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

On Thursday, Lord Thomas decided the CPS was right not to prosecute Mr Lewis and that its decision was both "reasonable and correct".

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.

South Wales Police has always insisted that officers on the case acted in good faith.

Following the High Court ruling, Deputy Chief Constable Matt Jukes said: "Throughout this case, our thoughts have been with the family and friends of Phillip Saunders, as well as those whose convictions were quashed following the investigation of his death.

"Following a thorough and robust investigation, the police file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service and it was found that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone in relation to the allegations.

"We note and respect the decision of the High Court today and await the full written verdict from the court in due course".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites