1:32pm Thursday 17th May 2012
© Press Association 2014
A man's 2005 murder conviction has been quashed after the discovery of photographic evidence on his mobile phone which could have helped his defence case.
Sam Hallam was at the Court of Appeal - after being dramatically freed on bail - to hear three judges announce that his conviction was "unsafe".
Mr Hallam, 24, spent more than seven years behind bars insisting he did not murder 21-year-old trainee chef Essayas Kassahun, who died after being attacked by a group of youths on the St Luke's estate in Clerkenwell, London, on October 11 2004.
He lost an appeal in 2007 but he and his mother Wendy and dozens of supporters packed a London courtroom to hear Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Spencer, give the court's reasons for overturning the conviction, which was referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Mr Hallam, of Hoxton, east London, who was found guilty at the Old Bailey in October 2005 and was serving life with a minimum term of 12 years before he was freed by the appeal judges, won his challenge in the light of new evidence relating to his own 3G telephone.
The judges said that for "reasons that escape us", two telephones in Mr Hallam's possession at the time of his arrest were not investigated by the police or his then defence team. Photographs found on his new 3G phone may have helped him establish his whereabouts on the day of the murder, they said.
In a statement read outside court by Paul May, who led the high-profile campaign to free him, Mr Hallam said: "I don't want anyone else ever to suffer what I've been through since October 2004." He said: "Justice has long been denied to me but it has now finally prevailed."
Mr Hallam said in an interview with the BBC that the "whole system" had been unfair. He added: "The original police investigation was not done properly. They could have done things then to eliminate me, but they never."
Mr Hallam said he "always knew" he was innocent but could do nothing in prison. "It was horrible. I had to get used to it," he said. "I couldn't do anything. It was only my supporters and family who could help." Asked if he was angry, he said: "Not yet. I probably will be. I'm still in shock."
Scotland Yard later said it regretted the jailing of Mr Hallam. Commander Simon Foy, head of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: "It is a matter of deep regret that Sam Hallam lost his liberty due to what has subsequently been found to be an unsafe conviction."
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