Killer fails to clear name as appeal bid turned down

John Robertson
John Robertson
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A MAN convicted of raping and murdering his wife 24 years ago has lost his bid for a fresh appeal despite a new suspect being identified by campaigners backing his case.

John Robertson was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Selina Parkinson at her flat in Wester Hailes in 1988.

Selina Robertson

Selina Robertson

Lawyers for the 66-year-old submitted an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to review Robertson’s conviction and pass his case to the Appeal Court. The SCCRC has now ruled against passing on the case, but did not disclose the reasons behind the decision.

Mr Robertson’s supporters had given the authorities the name of an Edinburgh woman who is said to have a violent criminal history, knew the victim and allegedly confessed to friends that she carried out the murder.

John McManus, co-ordinator of Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo), which has championed Robertson’s case, criticised the ruling, adding that evidence which could have prompted an appeal was “glaring”.

Three years ago, experts found that DNA from the crime scene actually belonged to a woman, and admitted that the rape may not have occurred.

The DNA sample was put through the national criminal database and a woman, who was around 24 at the time of the killing, is thought to have come up as a possible match.

Robertson’s supporters wanted the SCCRC to confirm whether the match belongs to the woman they have named as a suspect to determine whether it would be enough evidence to mount an appeal.

Following the SCCRC’s ruling, Mr McManus said: “It’s a strange situation. If you were to investigate this same exact case today, and a woman’s DNA was found at the scene when a man had been arrested, then I think you would have a hard job in court explaining why you didn’t investigate that further.”

During Robertson’s previous appeal to the SCCRC in 2009, the agency said that it “believes there may have been a miscarriage of justice” over his rape conviction, but concluded that the case should not be referred.

Mojo said Robertson’s supporters had carried out in-depth inquiries to identify the woman, who is understood to live in the city, as a suspect.

Mr McManus added: “I’m not sure what the SCCRC has actually done. I don’t know whether they’ve investigated this woman and eliminated her. John’s health is not good but I’m sure he’ll be very disappointed with this decision. He held out a lot of hope for a positive result.”

The SCCRC was asked to reopen the case in 2004, but was told by lab experts from Lothian and Borders Police that DNA samples from the victim had been destroyed. The samples were later recovered and proved to be from a woman.

Mojo has previously attacked the conviction as no forensic evidence linked Robertson to the crime.

Robertson was sent to Carstairs State Hospital after suffering a mental breakdown and is now housed at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

An SCCRC spokesman confirmed that the case would not be referred to the Appeal Court. The spokesman said its policy was to never disclose the reasons why an application was unsuccessful.