Donald Pendleton

Years in prison:
15
Year of crime:
1971
Year conviction was overturned:
2001

Donald Pendleton was convicted of the murder of newspaper seller Bernard Clark, who was attacked, robbed, and found in a ditch. The original case hinged on evidence from police interviews. He was arrested after the police received fresh information 15 years after the crime. Donald was held for 3 days without a lawyer and whilst he originally told officers that he was not at the scene of the murder, he later changed his account, saying he was with John Thorpe when he killed Mr Clark but had not been involved. Throughout his trial Donald’s lawyers stuck to this story believing it was his best chance of being cleared. On appeal, new evidence from a forensic psychologist described Donald as a psychologically vulnerable individual who was highly susceptible to giving in to leading questions and interrogative pressure. The conviction was quashed by the House of Lords, because of psychological vulnerability and the fact the jury had not heard the defendant’s true version of events it was impossible to be sure that the conviction was safe.

View Press (www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk)

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  • Offence: Murder
  • Jurisdiction: England & Wales
  • County: Yorkshire 
  • Ethnicity: Unknown
  • Gender: M
  • Years in prison: 15
  • Offence convicted of: Murder
  • Year of crime: 1971
  • Year of initial conviction: 1986
  • Year conviction was overturned: 2001
  • Age when imprisoned: 40
  • CCRC Referral: N
  • Tried with others: Y
  • Link to full case: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200102/ldjudgmt/jd011213/pendle-2.htm
  • Type of fresh evidence at appeal: Evidence undermining the reliability of a confession
  • Compensation: Unknown
  • Crown argued case at CofA: Yes
  • Retrial: No
  • Previous appeals: Two unsuccessful appeals