Keith Birchall

Years in prison:
Year of crime:
Year conviction was overturned:

Keith Birchall was convicted of the murder of Billy West. West was murdered in his own home. Birchall was a friend of West’s next door neighbor (Mrs C) and had been in a relationship with her. However after their relationship cooled she became attached to West. On the evening of the murder, he had just returned from a holiday with Mrs C and her family. He was at Mrs C’s house that afternoon and left at about 6.40pm. This meant there was a period of about 30 minutes during which he could have killed West. During that time he changed his clothes and the clothes he had been wearing were not seen again. At trial evidence was given of footprints, fingerprints, fibres, bloodstains, hair, and the murder weapon (a kitchen knife). None of this evidence suggested a link with Birchall. The prosecution case rested on the motive of Birchall (there was evidence he was obsessive in his devotion to Mrs C), opportunity, the evidence of a jailhouse informant who said that Birchall admitted committing the murder, and the disappearance of the clothes. On appeal, it was shown that the timings left to the jury were inaccurate and could have been misleading. Fresh evidence was introduced from a new witness, a fellow prisoner, who said that the jailhouse informant had told him he had read the appellants case and he appeared to be guilty. If this had been known the judge would have warned the jury in even stronger terms than he did about the reliability of the jailhouse informant. As a result, the Court of Appeal stated that “we are left in doubt of the appellant’s guilt and accordingly consider this conviction unsafe.”

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  • Offence: Murder
  • Jurisdiction: England & Wales
  • County: Nottinghamshire 
  • Ethnicity: Unknown
  • Gender: M
  • Years in prison: 2
  • Offence convicted of: Murder
  • Year of crime: 1995
  • Year of initial conviction: 1996
  • Year conviction was overturned: 1998
  • Age when imprisoned: Unknown
  • CCRC Referral: N
  • Tried with others: N
  • Link to full case:
  • Type of fresh evidence at appeal: Evidence relating to the reliability of witness testimony
  • Compensation: Unknown
  • Crown argued case at CofA: Yes
  • Retrial: No
  • Previous appeals: None