15 May 2012

Murder conviction to go before court of appeal

Sam Hallam’s conviction for the murder of a trainee chef Essayas Kassahun in London in 2004 goes before judges at the court of appeal for the second time tomorrow.

The case has been referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission – which has a 60 per cent success rate.

It got another police force to review every aspect of the original Metropolitan Police investigation back in 2004, which was led by Detective Chief Inspector Mike Broster.

He’s the same officer who eight years and a promotion later was castigated by the coroner at the “spy in the bag” Gareth Williams inquest for not following every possible lead in his role as vetted liaison between the police investigation and MI6.

In the words of the coroner, he had allowed MI6 to dictate what evidence was handed over.

Lines of enquiry

In a report seen by Channel 4 News, the CCRC came to similar conclusions about the officer’s conduct in the Sam Hallam investigation.

The commssion said that among its various concerns were –

1) the failure to pursue reasonable lines of enquiry
2) the failure of the investigating officer to record his investigative decision making and rationale.

Paul May, who for the last five years had led the campaign to free Sam Hallam, told Channel 4 News: “It’s remarkable the criticisms of the then DCI Broster are very similar to the criticisms made by the coroner of him. Generally there was a lack of investigative zeal in the original murder inquiry – leads that should have been followed up weren’t followed up.

“Evidence wasn’t properly examined and there was quite abysmal recording of the progress of the investigation. There was also a casual attitude to the disclosure of important information.”


These criticisms will be in the margins of tomorrow’s appeal.

The main focus will be on the simple argument that Sam Hallam was not there when trainee chef Essayas Kassahun was stabbed in the head during an attack near London’s Old Street tube station back in October 2004.

A group armed with baseball bats and knives had gone looking for a boy in a dispute over “respect”.

Eassayas Kassahun went to the aid of his friend who was the group’s target and was attacked in the process. He died two days later.

Eight went on trial. Only Sam Hallam and one other were convicted of murder.

In 2007 his appeal on the grounds the trial judge had erred in law was rejected by the court of appeal.

But his mother Wendy Cohen is much more hopeful second time round, armed with a critical examination of the Metropolitan police’s original investigation.
She told Channel 4 News –

“I’m not educated but even my friend was reading it. You just think how did this happen? Nothing was done for Sam. When I look at my other children as well and what they’ve gone through. It rips the whole family apart.”

The Metropolitan police wouldn’t comment ahead of the appeal hearing