Released after 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit

Tuesday 21 December 2021

David Emanuel QC and Tom Wainwright, of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team, instructed by Steven Bird of Birds Solicitors have secured the acquittal of a man wrongly convicted of murder in 2004 after an unprecedented three appeals.

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On Friday 17th December 2021 - the Court of Appeal ordered the acquittal of Gary Walker, who was beginning his 19th year in prison for a 2003 murder after a trial at Stafford Crown Court in 2004. 

The case has had an extraordinary and lengthy history. David Emanuel QC has represented Mr Walker for the last 8 years and Friday marked the culmination of the long battle to clear his name.

Mr Walker unsuccessfully appealed against his conviction in 2007 before instructing Steven Bird of Birds Solicitors in London. David was instructed to advise on the merits of an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2013. 

Armed with fresh expert evidence from pathologists and neuropathologists, David, working closely with Steven Bird, applied to the CCRC in 2014 for the case to be sent back to the Court of Appeal. After a 3 year review, the CCRC refused the application. David drafted an application for judicial review of the CCRC's decision which was refused on the papers. Undaunted, David and Steven decided to renew the application. Permission was granted after an oral hearing in 2018.

The CCRC then dropped their opposition to the judicial review proceedings and agreed to reconsider the application. After a further 2 year review, the CCRC finally agreed to refer the case to the Court of Appeal in April 2020.

After a strongly contested appeal hearing, the conviction for murder was quashed in January 2021, the Court deciding that the fresh expert evidence placed the medical evidence in a whole new light. It was also held that the directions on supervening acts and causation were deficient. The Court ordered a retrial which took place at Warwick Crown Court in November and December 2021. Steven Bird instructed Tom Wainwright to act as junior counsel with David. The case turned on complex medical and scientific evidence on the cause of death, complicated by the negligent actions of the attending paramedics. At the end of the prosecution’s case, a submission of no case to answer was made on the basis the prosecution could not prove causation. The trial judge, Holgate J, describing the case as highly unusual, agreed and allowed the submission. 

That was not an end to it though, the prosecution appealed the decision as a terminating ruling and on the 17th December 2021, the case returned to the Court of Appeal for the third time. The prosecution’s appeal was dismissed (Macur LJ presiding) and after 18 years, in which he had been in custody the whole time, the Court ordered his acquittal and Gary Walker was finally released, his name cleared. 

David Emanuel QC and Tom Wainwright of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team were instructed by Steven Bird of Birds Solicitors, London

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