Damages bid by man jailed wrongly for seven years

Craig McCreight. Picture: Leon McGowran
Craig McCreight. Picture: Leon McGowran
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A MAN who spent almost seven years in jail before he was acquitted of murdering his partner following a “bad science” appeal has launched a legal action to try to secure compensation.

Craig McCreight was jailed for life in 2002 after he was found guilty after a trial of killing Yvonne Davidson in an attack with chloroform at their home in Fairnsfell, Broxburn, three years earlier. But judges ruled in 2009 that he had been a victim of a miscarriage of justice after hearing from experts in a fresh evidence appeal. They quashed his conviction.

The appeal judges rejected a move by the Crown to bring a fresh prosecution in the case, saying it was not in the interests of justice.

Following his release from jail, lawyers acting for Mr McCreight, of Broxburn, applied for compensation from the Scottish Government, but his application was refused.

He has now gone to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to challenge that decision in a judicial review.

His counsel, Mungo Bovey QC, told Lord McEwan that in addressing the issue of whether there was “serious default”, the Scottish ministers erred in law and took an irrational approach.

Mr Bovey said: “They erred in holding that because the court did not address the same test, that is the serious default test, they could disregard the basis on which the court had set aside the conviction.”

Mr McCreight had denied murdering Miss Davidson, 34, at his original trial at the High Court in Edinburgh but following his conviction was ordered to serve at least 18 years in jail before the successful appeal.

He had been in a relationship with the pub landlady, a mother-of-three, but another woman had declared he fathered a child by her.

Following the discovery of her body in a neighbour’s garden, Miss Davidson’s death was attributed to hypothermia and amphetamine.

But during the later trial, the Crown contended that Mr McCreight had used a rag soaked in chloroform and placed to her mouth and nose, which resulted in inhalation of the vapour. The colourless compound was formerly used as an anaesthetic.

Appeal judges heard forensic scientists had produced a report for the trial that showed a massive concentration of chloroform in Miss Davidson’s liver, but it was later discovered that the calculation was botched, which had resulted in it being magnified 1000-fold.

The Scottish Government is contesting the compensation action. The hearing continues.