Stephen Downing

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

Stephen Downing was convicted of the murder of Wendy Sewell, who was attacked and sexually assaulted in 1973 and died two days later from her injuries. Stephen had found Wendy badly injured but still allive. At that time he was 17 but had the reading age of an 11 year old. He was convicted on the basis of forensic evidence suggesting the blood stains on his clothes were likely caused by the attack, and on the basis of a confession that he made after more than seven hours of police interrogation and without a lawyer. On appeal, the forensic evidence was called into question by two scientists who suggested that the blood staining was equally consistent with the appellant’s account. The court also analysed the confession evidence and found that there had been breaches of relevant rules and that the confession was not reliable. For these reasons, the appeal was allowed.

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