Gareth Jones was a care worker who was convicted of sexual assault in 2008. Gareth who has learning difficulties was working in a care home and called for help because a woman with dementia was bleeding heavily. He was arrested the following day.
He had only been alone with the woman for four minutes while his co-worker was making a telephone call, witnesses denied that he had any blood on him, and there was no DNA evidence linking him to the alleged assault even though he hadn’t washed his uniform after the incident.
Although he had learning difficulties he was given no special help during the trial and in a BBC interview said “I couldn’t understand most of what they were going on about”.
He served three and a half years in prison and was then on the sex offenders’ register. However he lived with his carer Paula Morgan who had known him since childhood and believed in his innocence. She contacted the Cardiff University Innocence Project who spent six years working on his case.
Eventually, on his second appeal, his conviction was quashed in December 2018. In an article in the Justice Gap, Denis Eady, case consultant in the project is clearly outraged by the uphill battle faced in getting justice for Gareth and would like to see his trial barrister, the first appeal judge and the Crown Prosecution Service issue an apology.
The fact that this case is only the second success in the 12 year history of the innocence project demonstrates the enormous difficulties faced in winning a successful appeal. Students were supported by two Cardiff University alumni who are practising barristers (Philip Evans QC and Tim Naylor), a criminal appeals solicitor in Cardiff (Andrew Shanahan) and five medical/psychology experts.
Professor Julie Price, Head of Pro Bono (free legal help) at the School said in what is presumably a rather diplomatically worded statement “the appeals system is problematic and needs to change”. Indeed.