Robber’s 31-year fight to clear name fails

Lord Carloway rejected the claims. Picture: Jane Barlow
Lord Carloway rejected the claims. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A MAN who has been claiming for more than 30 years that he was jailed for a robbery he did not commit today had his claim that he was a victim of a miscarriage of justice rejected.

Appeal judges rejected William Beck’s claim that he did not rob a supermarket post office in Livingston in 1981.

“Absolutely shocking,” muttered Beck, 52, as he left the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

His attempt to overturn his 1982 conviction had been supported by the Glasgow Caledonian University Innocence Project which campaigns on behalf of those who believe they have been wrongly treated by the courts.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice had also taken up the case - after repeated applications - and asked appeal judges to look again at Beck’s trial.

A jury’s majority verdict convicted Beck of stealing a car from the Broomielaw in Glasgow on December 12 1981 and taking part in the robbery.

Two post office workers were struck with hammers and bags containing £21,000 in cash were taken.

Beck, originally from Castlemilk, Glasgow, was jailed for six years and an appeal against conviction was thrown out in October 1982.

But with the help of his supporters his complaints about the trial were given a fresh hearing in March this year.

His grounds of appeal criticised the legal directions given to jurors by trial judge Lord Dunpark, the eye witness evidence Beck claims was mistaken, the rejection of his alibi and a claim that his legal team had let him down.

All were rejected by Lord Carloway, sitting with Lords Brodie and Marnoch.

Lord Carloway noted that because Lord Dunpark has since died and the shorthand notes taken at the trial were destroyed after ten years there were difficulties.

But what Lord Dunpark had told the jury had been transcribed for the 1982 - and appeal judges said that the judge could be criticised for some of the things he said.

“Although there were mis-directions in the charge these were not, in the event, material,” said Lord Carloway.

He added that in dealing with the identification evidence Lord Dunpark had been, if anything, favourable to Beck. He told the jury that eye witness evidence was “notoriously difficult” and that “it was easy to make a mistake if you only get a fleeting glimpse.”

The appeal judges also said that Beck’s lawyers had properly put forward his defence - an alibi claiming he was in Glasgow with his girlfriend.

Beck left court claiming that he would never give up his fight for justice and would try to take his case to the Supreme Court.