THE release of Sean Hodgson has reopened investigations into 240 historical murder and rape convictions, the Daily Echo can reveal.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the independent public body that reviews possible miscarriages of justice, said it had trawled through its case history for any rape or murder before 1990.
DNA found at the crime scene was used to free Hodgson after 27 years behind bars and to eventually trace Lace.
Since being formed 12 years ago, the CCRC has received more than 11,000 review applications from criminals pleading their innocence.
As the only body with the power to compel the Court of Appeal to hear a second appeal, the CCRC is the last route for those hoping to clear their name.
CCRC spokesman Justin Hawkins said that after Mr Hodgson’s conviction was quashed it began taking a second look at cases where there might be testable forensic material that could now be tested for DNA.
“The scope of our trawl through our case history was any rape or murder before 1990 about which an application has been made, beyond that we would not be able to look,” he said.
“That involves somebody who has been convicted of either rape or murder, they will have already sort to appeal that case and either had the appeal heard and dismissed or not been granted leave to appeal.
“We have identified 240 that we are now in the process of looking at. We will be working our way through each of those and look back to see if the circumstances around Mr Hodgson’s referral means that we need to revise our conclusion about those cases.”
However, Mr Hawkins said they would only test for new DNA samples if they believed it would cast doubt on the conviction.
“It’s not just about whether there is testable material that might throw some light, but also what light it might throw and whether it will cast doubt on the conviction,” he explained.
“For instance, if there was some crime scene DNA samples that could be tested, that is interesting, but it may not be telling in terms of the safety of the conviction if you have got, for example, CCTV or a statement from a witness.”
Following Mr Hodgson’s release in March, the CCRC also wrote to the director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, to request that the Crown Prosecution Service identify (CPS) and review similar murder cases from the time before DNA evidence was available.
A CPS spokesman last night said it was still in talks with the CCRC, but did not confirm if a review had begun.