Annette Hewins

Years in prison:
1.5
Year of crime:
1995
Year conviction was overturned:
1999

Annette Hewins was convicted of arson with intent to endanger life, for allegedly causing a house fire (along with her niece Donna Clarke) which killed 21 year old Diane Jones, and her two daughters. Clarke had had a sexual affair with Shaun Hibberd (Diane Jones’s cohabitee and the father of her Jones’s children). This affair had led to tension between Clarke and Jones. The prosecution alleged that Clarke hated Jones and had made threats to petrol bomb her home. Clarke and Hewins were alleged to have purchased petrol for the attack, and Clarke then started the fire. A witness who was with Clarke on the day of the fire gave key evidence against Clarke and Hewins but her account changed during a series of long examinations. For example, she initially said Clarke had a lucozade bottle that was rusty coloured with no fizz, but later accepted that there was nothing unusual about the bottle and that she told the police something different as she had decided to tell lies about Clarke to avoid being charged with murder herself. The only evidence against Hewins related to her going to a petrol station with Clarke. The court found that it was not unrealistic to think that Clarke had not known of the fire even if she did buy the petrol. On this basis there was, in reality, no sufficient evidence to prove the case against her, and that the conviction was regarded as unsafe on that basis. Donna Clarke’s appeal was also allowed and a re-trial ordered. The retrial was blocked on the grounds of double jeopardy, and Clarke was released with a “clear case to answer.”

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  • Offence: Other
  • Jurisdiction: England & Wales
  • County: Merthyr Tydfil 
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Gender: F
  • Years in prison: 1.5
  • Offence convicted of: Arson with intent to endanger life
  • Year of crime: 1995
  • Year of initial conviction: 1997
  • Year conviction was overturned: 1999
  • Age when imprisoned: 29
  • CCRC Referral: N
  • Tried with others: Y
  • Link to full case: https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/1999/386.html
  • Compensation: Unknown
  • Crown argued case at CofA: Yes
  • Retrial: No
  • Previous appeals: None