Judith Ward

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Judith Theresa Ward (née Judith Minna Ward, 10 January 1949)[citation needed] is a British woman known for being a victim of unsafe convictions in 1974 for the bombing of Euston Station in 1973, and of the National Defence College and M62 coach bombings in 1974. Her conviction was quashed and she was released from prison on 11 May 1992. She had confessed due to a mental illness that led her to attention seeking behaviour and the making of false confessions.[1] She spent 18 years in prison and eventually wrote a book about her conviction.

Background[edit]

Ward was born in Stockport. After leaving school she worked as a horse-riding instructor, including working in Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland. She briefly enlisted in the Women's Royal Army Corps in 1971 but went absent without leave and returned to Dundalk. After a few months she returned to Aldershot and gave herself up, claiming to have been the subject of an Irish Republican Army recruitment attempt; she was discharged from the WRAC. After this, she moved again to the riding school in Dundalk where she worked for another year.

During this time she managed to get into the Thiepval Barracks, headquarters of the British Army in Northern Ireland. She was detained by the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary and told them she was looking over the details of security measures, but she was not prosecuted.[why?] In August 1973, Ward left Dundalk and moved to London where she worked as a chambermaid in a hotel. By the end of the year she was living again in Stockport, and early in 1974 she worked for Chipperfield's Circus.[citation needed]

Events[edit]

On 10 September 1973, the Provisional IRA bombed Euston Station, causing "[e]xtensive but superficial damage" and some injuries. On 3 February 1974, a bomb destroyed a bus on the M62 motorway, killing nine soldiers and three civilians. The National Defence College in Latimer, Buckinghamshire was bombed on 12 February 1974, but caused no serious damage. Detective Chief Superintendent George Oldfield led the investigation into the M62 bomb. Ward was arrested on 14 February 1974 by police investigating the M62 coach bomb and made a statement admitting responsibility. Although she retracted her confession, on 4 November she was convicted of all three bombings.[1]

Appeal[edit]

Several missing facts from the original trial made the Appeal court rule the conviction as unsafe.

  • The original trial had not been informed of Ward's history of mental illness before her arrest and her possible unfitness to plead. Neither the court nor her family were told of a suicide attempt while Ward was in custody.
  • It was also found that Ward had changed her “confession” several times, and police and the prosecution had to select parts of her statements to construct a plausible version. The prosecution concealed other important facts from the defence.
  • RARDE scientists Elliott and Higgs had failed to disclose evidence that weighed against the prosecution case.
  • Evidence from forensic scientist Dr Frank Skuse had been important to her conviction. Skuse's flawed methods had been crucial in the conviction of the Birmingham Six who had previously been found to have been wrongly convicted.

Accordingly, her conviction was quashed in 1993 and Ward was released.

Nitroglycerine evidence[edit]

One of the main pieces of forensic evidence against Ward was the alleged presence of traces of nitroglycerine on her hands, in her caravan, and in her bag.

Thin layer chromatography and the Griess test were used to establish the presence of nitroglycerine. However, later evidence showed that positive results using these methods could be obtained with materials innocently picked up from shoe polish, and that several of the forensic scientists involved had either withheld evidence or exaggerated its importance.[2][3]

This was one of a series of miscarriages of justice during the latter half of the 20th century.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Beverley Schurr. "Expert Witnesses And The Duties Of Disclosure & Impartiality: The Lessons Of The IRA Cases In England.". Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  2. ^ Colvin, Madeleine; Hopkins, Andrea; Cooper, Jonathan (12 November 2009). Human Rights in the Investigation and Prosecution of Crime. Oxford University Press. pp. 234—235. ISBN 978-0-19-921441-9. 
  3. ^ Kennedy, Helena (31 March 2011). Eve Was Framed: Women and British Justice. Random House. p. 245. ISBN 978-1-4464-6834-0. 

Revealing UK miscarriage of justice: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4943675105275097719[dead link]