List of miscarriage of justice cases

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This is a list of miscarriage of justice cases. This list includes cases where a convicted individual was later cleared of the crime and has received either an official exoneration, or a consensus exists that the individual was unjustly punished or where a conviction has been quashed and no retrial has taken place, so that the accused is assumed innocent. This list is not exhaustive. Crime descriptions with an asterisk indicate that the events were later determined not to be criminal acts.

List of cases[edit]


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
December 30, 1921 Colin Campbell Ross Rape and murder by strangulation of Alma Tirtschke Swanston Street, Melbourne, Australia Execution Executed Yes, posthumously exonerated Twelve-year-old Nell Alma Tirtschke left home on an errand for her grandmother. Early the next morning, her body was found in Gun Alley. She had been raped and strangled. Ross was convicted on the basis of several witnesses who testified that Ross confessed to them as well several strands of blonde hair on a blanket at Ross's house. In 1993, a former school teacher named Kevin Morgan began researching Ross's case. Morgan found a file in the Office of Public Prosecutions containing the original hair samples, which had been thought lost. In 1998, two independent scientific authorities - the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and the forensics division of the Australian Federal Police - found that the two lots of hair did not come from the same person, thereby disproving with certainty the most damning piece of evidence presented at Colin Ross's trial. Colin Ross was pardoned on May 27, 2008, 86 years after his execution.[1][2]
December 20, 1959 Darryl Beamish Murder of 22-year-old socialite Jillian MacPherson Brewer Perth, Australia Death 15 years Yes Brewer was the great-granddaughter of industrialist and philanthropist Sir Macpherson Robertson and was heir to MacRobertson's chocolates. Brewer was killed by an intruder with a tomahawk and scissors in her beachside apartment. Beamish, who is deaf and mute, lived near Brewer. He signed a confession, which he claimed he signed under duress. It was later determined that Brewer's murder was likely committed by Perth serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke, who confessed to the murder prior to his execution. Another man, John Button, was also convicted of murders assumed to be committed by Eric Edgar Cooke.[3]
February 9, 1963 John Button Murder of his 17-year-old girlfriend Rosemary Anderson Fremantle, Western Australia 10 years 5 years Nineteen-year-old Button and his girlfriend Rosemary Anderson were celebrating his birthday at his parents' house. After an argument, Anderson decided to walk home. Button followed her in his car but she refused to get in and continued walking. Button stopped to smoke a cigarette before driving on. He found her lying injured and unconscious on the side of the road. She died later at the hospital.[4] Button had a bad stutter and police interpreted this as being nervous due to the questions he was being asked. Button was refused access to his parents or a lawyer and was hit once by an interviewing police officer[5] before finally confessing to killing Anderson after 22 hours of interrogation. Damage to Button's car was also introduced at trial. He was charged with wilful murder and served 5 years in prison.

In 1963, Perth serial killer, Eric Edgar Cooke, confessed to the murder of Anderson when arrested in 1963 and again before he was executed. At his appeal, Trevor Condron, the police officer who had examined John Button's car in 1963 told the appeals court that while the car was damaged, the damage was not consistent with hitting a person and that three weeks before Anderson's death, Button had reported to police another accident. This accident report had been known to police at the original trial but been discounted as irrelevant. The court also heard from Dr Neil Turner who had treated Anderson. He claimed that her injuries were not consistent with Button's vehicle. The world's leading pedestrian accident expert, American William "Rusty" Haight, was flown to Australia and testified that experiments with a biomedical human-form dummy, a similar Simca to Button's and an EJ Holden similar to the one Cooke claimed he was driving when he hit Anderson, matched exactly Cooke's account and excluded the Simca.[6][7] On 25 February 2002, the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed Button's conviction.[8][9]

Button now spearheads the Western Australian Innocence Project which aims to free the wrongfully convicted.[10]

September 14, 1964 Alexander McLeod-Lindsay Attempted murder of his wife, Pamela Parsons Sylvania, New South Wales. 18 years 9 years McLeod-Lindsay returned from work to find his wife Pamela and son Bruce severely beaten. Police developed the theory that he had slipped away from the hotel, attacked his family and returned to work, unnoticed. Blood on McLeod-Lindsay’s jacket was said to have been “impact splatter”, and deposited during the attack.[11]

Both victims survived the attack. Pamela McLeod-Lindsay was adamant that her husband had not attacked her. She said that the attacker had had an Australian accent. McLeod-Lindsay’s accent was Scottish. McLeod-Lindsay was charged anyway with the attempted murder of his wife and son. The prosecution contended that Pamela McLeod-Lindsay was lying to protect the family’s income. He was convicted McLeod-Lindsay was found guilty.

McLeod-Lindsay was exonerated after a further review by another blood spatter pattern expert determined that the pattern was likely caused by transfer when he cradled his wife rather than by blows.[12]

August 17, 1980 Lindy Chamberlain Murder of her daughter, Azaria* Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia Life imprisonment 3 years Yes Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton was convicted in 1982 for the murder of her 9-week-old daughter, Azaria, after claiming that the baby had been taken by a dingo. In 1986, a British tourist fell to his death in Uluru while hiking. During the search for his remains, Azaria's missing matinee jacket was discovered in an area full of dingo lairs.[13] The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory ordered Lindy Chamberlain's immediate release and the case was reopened. On 15 September 1988, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously overturned all convictions against Lindy and her husband, Michael Chamberlain, who had been convicted of Accessory after the fact.[14][15][16][17]
June 22, 1982 Ray, Peter and Brian Mickelberg Perth Mint Swindle Perth, Western Australia 20,16, and 12 years in prison, respectively. Varied Yes Ray, Peter, and Brian Mickelberg were convicted in 1983 of the Perth Mint Swindle. In 2002, Tony Lewandowski came forward and admitted the police had framed the brothers. In July 2004 their convictions were quashed and as part of a libel settlement, the West Australian police issued a public apology in December 2007.[18]
September 23, 1991 Graham Stafford murder of 12-year-old Leanne Sarah Holland Redbank Plains, Queensland 14 years Graham Stafford was convicted in 1992 of the murder of twelve-year-old Leanne Sarah Holland, the younger sister of Stafford's then partner. Stafford unsuccessfully appealed in 1992 and 1997. Stafford served over 14 years in prison before being paroled in 2006. One of the conditions of his appeal was that he not speak to the media. In a rare third appeal in 2009 Stafford was successful with two judges ordering a retrial and the third recommending an acquittal. One aspect of the decision of the High Court in determining the Andrew Mallard case was quoted by the majority as an important factor in their decision to uphold the appeal.[19] The Queensland Director of Prosecutions decided that a retrial was not in the public interest. Stafford and his supporters are seeking an investigation into the original prosecution.
May 23, 1994 Andrew Mallard Murder of Pamela Lawrence Perth, Western Australia 11 years Andrew Mallard was convicted for the murder of jeweler Pamela Lawrence in 1994 after eight unrecorded hours of police interrogation and a brief recorded "confession" that followed. In 2005, the High Court of Australia was advised that the prosecution and/or police had withheld evidence which showed his innocence, and overturned his conviction. As such, Mallard was released from prison. A "cold case" review of the murder conducted after Mallard's release implicated one Simon Rochford as the actual offender and Mallard was exonerated.
June 7, 1995 Gordon Eric Wood Murder of his girlfriend, Caroline Bryne The Gap, New South Wales 3 years Yes


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
September 1990 James Driskell Murder of Perry Harder Winnipeg, Manitoba Life in prison 12 years No Harder was murdered by being shot several times in the chest and buried in a shallow grave near some railroad tracks. Police suspected Driskell of the murders because Harder implicated Driskell in a series of break-ins. The prosecution presented three hairs from Driskell's van that they argued belonged to Harder. A later review by the Forensic Science Services in England determined that none of the hairs belonged to Harder. It was later discovered that a key police witness, Ray Zanidean, tried to recant his testimony. In exchange for his testimony, police made a deal with Zanidead that he would not be charged in an arson case. He also received payment for his legal fees and received money for mortgage payments that were in arrears. He also received $20,000 payment. This information was not disclosed to the jury. Although he has not been formally exonerated, he was released on Nov. 24, 2003.[20]
June 19, 1990 Robert Baltovich Murder of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. 11 years Robert Baltovich was convicted in 1992 of the murder of Elizabeth Bain; released in 2000 to prepare an appeal based on new evidence. The Court of Appeal for Ontario ordered a new trial, which began in March 2008. At the outset of the trial, the Crown declined to call any evidence, and the judge ordered the jury to bring a verdict of not guilty. New evidence points to Paul Bernardo, an acquaintance of Ms Bain's, as her killer.
May 28, 1971 Donald Marshall, Jr. Murder of Sandy Seale Sydney, Nova Scotia Life imprisonment 11 years Yes Donald Marshall and Sandy Seale, then both 17 years old, had been walking around Wentworth Park in Sydney, Nova Scotia during the late evening with the intent to "roll a drunk" as stated at Marshall's trial. They confronted an older man they encountered in the park named Roy Ebsary. Seale was stabbed to death. Police speculated that Marshall had murdered Seale and he was convicted on the basis of witness statements.[21][22] Several years later, a witness came forward to say he had seen another man stab Seale, and several prior witness statements pinpointing Marshall were recanted. A year after the appeal, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal declared him not guilty of the murder. In its ruling, however, the court opined that Marshall was “the author of his own misfortune”, essentially blaming him for the conviction.[23][24][25][26]

A 1990 royal commission of inquiry criticized that finding as “a serious and fundamental error", blaming police incompetence and “systemic racism” for the conviction (Marshall is Mi’kmaq). His case led to widespread changes in Canada's evidence disclosure rules. Prosecutors had withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense in the Marshall case; the prosecution must now fully disclose to the defense any evidence it has in its possession. Ebsary was subsequently tried and convicted of manslaughter.[21]

January 31, 1969 David Milgaard Murder of 20-year-old nursing student, Gail Miller Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Life in Prison 23 years Yes In 1969, 16-year-old David Milgaard was convicted and given a life sentence for the murder of 20-year-old nursing aide Gail Miller. After 23 years of imprisonment, the Supreme Court of Canada allowed for the release of Milgaard. In 1997 Milgaard, received an apology from the Saskatchewan government after DNA tests in the U.K. excluded him.[27]
October 3, 1984 Guy Paul Morin Rape and murder of his 9 year old neighbor, Christine Jessop Queensville, Ontario Life in prison 3 years Yes On 3 October 1984, Jessop disappeared after being dropped off by the school bus at her home.[28] Her body was discovered on December 31, nearly three months later. She had been sexually assaulted and murdered.[29] Morin was arrested for Jessop's murder in April 1985 and was acquitted.[29][30] The Crown exercised its right to appeal the verdict on the grounds that the trial judge made a fundamental error prejudicing the Crown's right to a fair trial.[31] In 1987 the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial.[32] In 1992, Morin was convicted at his second trial and was sentenced to life imprisonment.[33] Improvements in DNA testing led to a test in 1995 which excluded Morin as the murderer.[34] Morin's appeal of his conviction was allowed (i.e., the conviction was reversed), and a directed verdict of acquittal entered in the appeal.[32]

An inquiry culminating in the Kaufman Report into Morin's case also uncovered evidence of police and prosecutorial misconduct, and of misrepresentation of forensic evidence by the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences.[32][35] Christine Jessop’s murderer is still unknown.

August 9, 1967 Romeo Phillion Murder of Leopold Roy Ottawa, Ontario Life in prison Murder of veteran of fire department Leopold Roy[36]
December 23, 1981 Thomas Sophonow Murder of 16-year-old Barbara Stoppel Stoppel was working at the Ideal Donut Shop in Winnipeg when she was found strangled in the restroom with a nylon cord. She died 5 days later. Witnesses gave police a description of a man wearing a cowboy hat enter the establishment, lock the door, and walk towards the back. Sophonow, who had a police record, bore a resemblance to the sketch. He was convicted on the basis of the eyewitness identification and a jailhouse informant who testified that Sophonow confessed to him. Sophonow was tried three times. The first ended in a mistrial, the second two in convictions. Both convictions were overturned and the court of appeal ordered an acquittal. The Winnipeg police service began a reinvestigation and in June 2000, they publicly announced that Sophonow was innocent and another suspect had been identified. In 2001, Justice Peter Cory concluded that police misconduct contributed to the wrongful conviction. The use of jailhouse informants and misuse and manipulation of eye witness accounts was criticized.[37]
June 9, 1959 Steven Truscott Death, then Life in Prison Steven Truscott's wrongful conviction of murder in the death of Lynne Harper stood for 48 years before finally being overturned August 28, 2007.
October 9, 1993 Tammy Marquardt Murder of her son, Kenneth* Toronto, Ontario Life in prison. 14 Tammy was home with her 2 ½ years old son Kenneth who was napping in their spare bedroom. When she checked on him, she found him tangled in the sheets and gasping for breath. Kenneth suffered irreparable brain damage and was taken off life support three days later. Dr. Charles Smith, who was considered to be the leading expert in Canada on criminally suspicious pediatric deaths, was consulted on the case. Smith concluded that Kenneth’s death was not accidental. Tammy's defense insisted her son died from complications of an epileptic seizure. She was convicted.

Smith's work subsequently came into question on a number of cases. On June 7, 2005, Chief Coroner for Ontario, Dr. Barry McLellan, announced that a formal review would be conducted of criminal cases for which Smith had performed the autopsy.

In October 2007, another forensic pathologist assigned to the case concluded that Smith’s finding of asphyxia was “illogical and completely against scientific evidence-based reasoning.” In 2011, the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed her conviction and the Crown withdrew the charges against Tammy. Experts hired by the prosecution agreed that Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) could not be ruled out as the cause of death in Kenneth’s case as well as other natural cases of death.[38]

December 14, 1961 Réjean Hinse Armed robbery of a general store Mont-Laurier, Quebec 15 years


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
1431 Joan of Arc Heresy and cross dressing Rouen, France Death sentence, burning at stake Executed Yes, posthumously Joan of Arc was executed in 1431 on charges of heresy. She was posthumously cleared in 1456.
October 14, 1761 Jean Calas Murder of his son, Marc-Antoine Toulouse, France Death sentence, breaking wheel Executed Yes, posthumously Jean Calas from Toulouse was executed on March 10, 1762, for murder of his son Marc Antoine. The philosopher Voltaire, convinced of his innocence, succeeded in reopening of the case and rehabilitation of Jean in 1765.
1894 Alfred Dreyfus Treason Life imprisonment on Devil's Island in French Guiana Yes Alfred Dreyfus was wrongly convicted for treason in 1894. After being imprisoned on Devil's Island, he was proven innocent with the assistance of Émile Zola and definitively rehabilitated only in 1906. See the Dreyfus affair.
Yes In 2005, thirteen people were finally proven innocent of child molestation after having served four years in prison. A fourteenth died in prison. Only four people were proven guilty. This infamous case, which deeply shook public opinion, is known as the Affaire d'Outreau, the Outreau case, from the name of the city where the victims lived.
April 30, 1987 Patrick Dils Montigny-lès-Metz, France Murder of two children, Cyril Beining and Alexandre Beckrich Life imprisonment 15 years Yes Dils conviction was overturned and he was acquitted on retrial in 2002.


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
October 13, 2001 Hermine Rupp, her two daughters, and her daughter's fiance Murder of her husband Rudolf Rupp Neuburg an der Donau (Bavaria, Germany) 8.5 years 5 years Rudolf disappeared on his way back from the local pub one night in October 2001. Local rumors spread that the Rupp family killed the unlikeable Rudy, who had a history of drinking excessively and fighting. Police had no evidence in the case, but eventually coerced confessions from the family that they had bludgeoned him, dismembered him, and fed him to the pigs. No physical evidence was found, but they were convicted. In 2009, Rupp's body was found intact behind the wheel of his Mercedes in the Danube river in an apparent car accident.[39]


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
399 BC Socrates Corrupting the youth of Athens and impiety Athens, Greece Death sentence, drinking poison hemlock No Modern interpretations state this his conviction and sentence were instead revenge for his affiliation with the dictatorial Thirty Tyrants.


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
2004 Atefah Sahaaleh Adultery and "crimes against chastity" Neka, Iran Death by hanging Executed Yes, posthumously[citation needed] Sahaaleh was convicted for "crimes against chastity" for being involved in a sexual relationship with a 51-year-old married man named Ali Darabi. Sahaaleh claimed she was raped by Darabi multiple times over the course of 3 years and then tortured into confessing. During her trial, she removed her hijab, an act seen as severe contempt of court, and argued that Darabi should be punished, not her. The judge sentenced her to death. Darabi was sentenced to 95 lashes.[40]

Unbeknownst to her parents, documents presented to the Supreme Court of Appeal described her as 22 years old. Her birth certificate indicated her age was 16. Amnesty International and other organizations declared her execution to be a crime against humanity and against children of the world.[41]


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
Meir Tobianski Treason Death Executed Yes In June 1948, during the Israeli War of Independence, Meir Tobianski, a major in the Israeli army, was arrested on charges of spying for the Jordanians. The Chief Military Prosecutor's order to detain and interrogate Tobianski for 10 days was ignored; instead, he was subjected to a drumhead court-martial. He was found guilty on circumstantial evidence, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad on June 30, 1948. Later, an investigation resulted in Tobianski's posthumous acquittal. Intelligence chief Isser Be'eri, who was largely responsible for Tobianski's execution, was later put on trial and found guilty of manslaughter.
Amos Baranes Murder Life imprisonment 8.5 years Yes In January 1976, Amos Baranes was convicted for the 1974 murder of soldier Rachel Heller and was sentenced to life imprisonment. His conviction was based solely on a confession and reenaction which he later retracted, claiming he had been coerced by police, who had deprived him of sleep for four days and subjected him to physical abuse. An appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court was rejected. In 1980, Ezra Goldberg, a retired policeman concluded that Baranes was innocent. He gave the information to Judge Haim Cohn, one of the Supreme Court judges who had rejected his appeal. Cohn concluded that his judgement was wrong, and suggested Baranes to ask for a pardon. Baranes refused, claiming that such a request would be an admission of a crime he didn't commit. Cohn then asked President Chaim Herzog to grant Baranes a pardon. Baranes was finally released in June 1983 after receiving a presidential pardon. He had served 8.5 years of his sentence. Following his release, Baranes continued his struggle to clear his name. Three times his requests for a new trial were denied. In March 2002, Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner finally ruled that Baranes should get a new trial. Four weeks later, Judge Cohn died. His last phone conversation was with Justice Dorner; he called her from his sickbed and thanked her for fixing the injustice "that I did". Baranes was one of the people who carried Cohn's coffin at his funeral. In December 2002, the court acquitted Baranes - without hearing evidence and without deciding whether Baranes committed the crime - after the prosecution decided not to have a trial. In 2003, Baranes was awarded NIS 1.4 million in compensation. On August 5, 2010, he was awarded a further NIS 5,029,000 in compensation. Amos Baranes died in September 2011. Rachel Heller's real killer was never caught.
Azat Naffso Treason and espionage 18 years imprisonment 7 years In 1980, Azat Naffso, a former IDF intelligence officer of Circassian origin, was arrested for espionage, after it was discovered that one of his contacts in Lebanon had been a double agent for Fatah. Naffso was interrogated and subjected to various forms of torture to extract a confession. After 14 days, Naffso confessed, and was tried before a military court in 1981, convicted, and sentenced to 18 years in prison. In 1987, he appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that his confession had been extracted illegally and that the prosecution had presented fabricated evidence. The Supreme Court judges cleared Naffso of most of the charges and sharply criticized Naffso's interrogators, accused them of perjury, and of not taking reasonable measures during his interrogation. A plea bargain was reached, under which Naffso agreed to plead guilty to exceeding authority creating a national security risk. Naffso's sentence was reduced to 2 years and a demotion to the rank of Sergeant, and as a result, he was released immediately. The Naffso affair was one of the reasons the Landau Commission, set up to investigate methods used by Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, was set up. Naffso subsequently filed a compensation claim against the state, and reached a compromise under which he would be given $1 million in compensation and pledge not to publicly reveal details of the case.
Arnoldo Lazorovsky Sodomy against a minor and committing an indecent act 6 years 6 years Yes In 2000, Arnoldo Lazorovsky was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor while working as a janitor at the Kfar Saba Country Club between 1991 and 1994, and was sentenced to six years in prison, after being accused by a young man several years after the alleged crimes occurred. Soon afterward, Gregory Schneider, who had worked at the same country club, was convicted of similar crimes after being accused by the same person, but the conviction was overturned upon appeal. As a result, Lazorovsky requested and was granted a retrial, but was convicted again, after which he appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which overturned the conviction.[42]
Hamed Zinati Murder Life imprisonment 4 years Yes In 2007, Hamed Zinati, a Druze man from Abu Sinan, was arrested for the murder of Youssef Ali, who had been married to a woman who had had an affair with one of his business partners. He was convicted on the basis of a confession that the police had extracted from a third suspect. The Israeli Supreme Court acquitted him on appeal after he spent four years in prison. He was awarded $100,000 in compensation.[43]


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
November 1, 2007 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito Murder of Meredith Kercher Perugia, Italy 26 years imprisonment (Knox), 25 years imprisonment (Sollecito) 3 years Yes London-born Kercher was studying in Italy when she was found murdered in the home she shared with Knox. Knox, who was from Seattle, her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivorian-born Rudy Guede were charged with the murder. Forensic evidence, including DNA from feces at the scene and fingerprints linked Guede to the scene, but the cases against Knox and Sollecito were controversial. Knox and Kercher were acquainted with Guede, but Knox and Sollecito claim they were at Sollecito's house at the time of the murder. Prosecutors argued Kercher was killed as part of a sex game gone wrong.[44]

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Cassation overturned the previous guilty verdicts, definitively ending the case.[45][46][47][48] Rather than merely declaring that there were errors in the earlier court cases or that there was not enough evidence to convict, the court ruled that Knox and Sollecito had not committed the murder and were innocent of those charges.[47][49] According to Vedova, the decision by the five judges was almost unprecedented. Guede's conviction still stands.[48]

Giuseppe Gulotta
1969 Pietro Valpreda Piazza Fontana bombing Pietro Valpreda, an anarchist condemned for the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, was finally found innocent sixteen years later. He was framed since it was planned to blame the crime on the radical Left, while it was committed by Neo-Fascist groups as the first step of the strategy of tension.
Enzo Tortora Enzo Tortora, a popular anchorman on national RAI television, was arrested in 1983 and held in jail for months on trumped up charges by several pentiti of the Camorra and other people already known for perjury. It was soon noted that this was most likely an mis-identification due to confusion with a man bearing the same surname (meaning "turtledove"), but the pentiti kept on accusing Tortora of the gravest offenses related to drug dealing. He was sentenced to ten years in jail in his first trial held in 1985, being spared further incarceration only thanks to the providential intervention of the Radical Party who offered him a candidacy to the European Parliament, a place Tortora won in a landslide as the country became divided between those who held him guilty and those who held him innocent. He was completely acquitted and rehabilitated in 1986; he returned the next year to his work in TV, to a moving comeback in his "Portobello" show, to die in 1988 from cancer and become an icon of injustice and a perpetual reminder of the gravest public blunder of the Italian judiciary system.
Daniele Barillà Daniele Barillà, an entrepreneur mistakenly identified as a major drug cartel boss in Milan, spent more than 7 years in jail in 1992–1999, despite growing evidence of his complete innocence and non-involvement in any criminal activity. To this day, the Italian state hasn't awarded him any compensation.
Fabio Carlino Fabio Carlino was convicted of selling the dose of ultra-pure cocaine that killed cyclist Marco Pantani, and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of £19,000, and another £300,000 in damages to Pantani's family. His conviction was overturned by the Italian Court of Cassation in 2011.[50]


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
Sakae Menda Sakae Menda was convicted for a double murder in 1948, after police extracted a confession by denying him food, water, and sleep, and subjecting him to physical abuse. He was sentenced to death, and spent 35 years on death row before being cleared in 1983, after further evidence backing up his alibi came to light.


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
March 2006 Jacinta Francisco Marcial Kidnapping and ransom of Federal Investigations Agents Santiago Mexquititlán, Querétaro 21 years in prison 3 years In March 2006, six plainclothes agents of Mexico's Federal Investigations Agency (AFI) raided a market in Santiago Mexquititlán, Querétaro, in search of unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. During the raid, the six AFI agents were cornered by a number of unarmed vendors in protest. The agents later claimed that the vendors demanded a ransom to let them go. Local witnesses to the incident denied any ransom demand was made. Jacinta Francisco Marcial, an indigenous Otomí woman, sold ice cream in Santiago Mexquititlán's predominantly indigenous tianguis. The six AFI agents who conducted the raid implicated Francisco Marcial after they were shown a newspaper photograph depicting her walking near a group of protesting vendors. In August 2006, four months after the raid, she was arrested for the alleged kidnapping. She was later convicted and sentenced to twenty-one years imprisonment. Two other women were convicted as well.

Amnesty International denounced Francisco Marcial's imprisonment as resulting from a wrongful prosecution. The group declared her a prisoner of conscience, claiming there was no credible evidence against her, and that she had been prosecuted because of her gender, poverty, race, and inability to speak or understand the Spanish language.

In 2009, prosecutors dropped the case against Francisco Marcial. In September 2009, she was released. As of September 2009, the two other women convicted of the same charges, Alberta Alcántara and Teresa González, remain in prison.

New Zealand[edit]

Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
June 17, 1970 (circa) Arthur Allan Thomas Murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe Pukekawa, Waikato 9 years Arthur Allan Thomas, a New Zealand farmer, was twice convicted of the murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe on June 17, 1970. He spent 9 years in prison but was given a Royal Pardon, and was released and awarded $1 million compensation for wrongful convictions. A Royal Commission in 1980 showed the prosecution cases were flawed, there was a high possibility police had deliberately planted a cartridge case in the Crewes' garden to use as evidence, and ignored evidence that pointed to another suspect. The prosecution had also denied alibi and witness information to the defense team.
March 23, 1992 Teina Pora Rape and murder of Susan Burdett Papatoetoe, Auckland Life imprisonment with 10 years non-parole 21 years
October 1992 David Dougherty Abduction and rape of an 11-year-old girl Auckland 7 years 9 months imprisonment David Dougherty was convicted in 1993 on charges of abduction and the rape of an 11-year-old girl. After serving over 3 years in prison, he was acquitted in 1997 after new DNA evidence ruled him out. Compensation of over $800,000 was paid by the New Zealand Government and an apology given for the wrongful conviction. The real culprit, Nicholas Reekie, was later convicted of the crime.[51]
June 20, 1994 David Bain Murder of his parents and three siblings Dunedin, Otago Life imprisonment with 16 years non-parole 13.5 years David Bain was convicted in 1995 of the murder of all five members of his family the previous year. The defence put forward the argument that David's father, Robin Bain, killed the other members of his family and then himself while David was out on his morning paper run. David spent 13 years in prison proclaiming his innocence and was supported in his pursuit of justice by former All Black Joe Karam - who wrote four books about the case. After numerous appeals, Bain's convictions were finally overturned in 2007 by the Privy Council, who found that a substantial miscarriage of justice had occurred. He was awarded a retrial in 2009 and acquitted on all charges.


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
November 21, 2006 Eric Volz Murder of Doris Ivania Jimenez San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua 30 years in prison 1 year, 1 month Yes In 2004, Eric Volz moved to Nicaragua and launched El Puente (EP) Magazine, a bilingual publication focusing on conscious living and smart tourism. In November of 2006, while living in Nicaragua, Volz was falsely accused and wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his former girlfriend, Doris Jimenez, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. After a tireless campaign on behalf of his family and friends, and intervention from the highest levels of the U.S. government and other international figures, an appeals court overturned his conviction and Volz was released in December of 2007.

After returning to the U.S., St. Martin’s Press published Volz’s memoir, Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua.[52][53]


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
Fritz Moen Fritz Moen, wrongfully convicted for separate murders of two 20-year-old women in 1976 and 1977. He was cleared of one murder in 2004. After his death in March 2005, he was cleared of the second murder, based on a reinvestigation of the case by Norway's Criminal Case Review Commission.[54] The case against Fritz Moen then stood as Europe's only known case of dual miscarriage, in which a country's judicial authorities have convicted the wrong person in two separately related murders.
Liland Affair
Per Kristian Liland Per Kristian Liland, wrongfully convicted of murdering two of his friends in 1969. He was cleared in 1994. His case is known as The Liland Affair.


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
The Putten murder case (1994): in this case, the 23-year-old stewardess Christel Ambrosius was found murdered in her grandmother's house, which was remotely located in the Veluwe. The police arrested four men who had been in those woods that weekend. Even though sperm found did not match the DNA of any of the four men, Wilco Viets and Herman Dubois were convicted to 10 years imprisonment anyway, of which they only served two thirds for good behavior. In April 2002, the Dutch high council (Supreme court) declared both men innocent, shortly after they had completed their sentences. Another suspect was apprehended in May 2008, based on a DNA match.
Lucia de Berk yes Lucia de Berk: was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003 for four murders and three attempted murders of patients in her care. After an appeal, she was convicted in 2004 of seven murders and three attempts. In October 2008, the case was reopened by the Dutch supreme court, as new facts had been uncovered that undermined the previous verdicts. De Berk was freed, and her case was re-tried; she was exonerated in April 2010.


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
The so-called "Wanninkhof case" where Dolores Vazquez was convicted of the murder of Rocío Wanninkhof in 1999. Later DNA evidence exonerated her.


Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
Sture Bergwall The case of Thomas Quick, in which Sture Bergwall was convicted, and later cleared, of eight separate murders in Sweden and Norway, that he had confessed while being under psychiatric evaluation, stands as one of the most infamous cases in recorded history.

United Kingdom[edit]

Date of crime Defendant(s) Crime Location Sentence Time served Legally exonerated Notes
2010 Stacey Hyde Murder Wells Minimum of 9 years Five years 2015 Stacey Hyde, from Wells, Somerset, was convicted in 2010 of the murder of Vincent Francis, 34, in September 2009. In 2015, she was exonerated by a jury which found that Hyde, aged 17, acted in self-defence and was in fear for her life.[55]
Timothy Evans Timothy Evans's wife and young daughter were killed in 1949. Evans was convicted of the murder of his daughter and was hanged in 1950. An official inquiry conducted 15 years later determined that the real killer of Evans's daughter had been Evans's co-tenant, serial killer John Reginald Halliday Christie. Christie was also responsible for the death of Evans's wife, his own wife, and six other women. He was the chief witness against Evans at his trial because the police accepted all of his statements as fact. The police were incompetent in their several searches of the house at Rillington Place, missing bones of earlier victims exposed in the tiny garden of the property. They also concocted false confessions from Evans to justify their accusations against him. The case was important in leading directly to the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 in the UK.
Robert Green, Henry Berry and Lawrence Hill Robert Green, Henry Berry and Lawrence Hill were hanged in 1679 at Greenberry Hill on false evidence for the unsolved murder of Edmund Berry Godfrey.
Donna Anthony Anthony was wrongly jailed in 1998 for the death of her 11-month-old son, also because of the opinion of Sir Roy Meadow, and finally released in 2005.
Sally Clark Murder of her two sons Clark was convicted in 1996 of the murder of her two small sons Christopher and Harry, and spent three years in jail, finally being released in 2003 on appeal. The convictions were based solely on the analysis of the deaths by the Home Office Pathologist Alan Williams, who failed to disclose relevant information about the deaths, that was backed up by the paediatric professor Sir Roy Meadow, whose opinion was pivotal in several other child death convictions, many of which have been overturned or are in the process of being disputed. In 2005 Williams was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and barred from practising pathology for 3 years. In July 2005 Meadow was also removed from the Medical Register for serious professional misconduct and prohibited from practising medicine. Sally Clark became an alcoholic as a result of her ordeal and died of alcohol poisoning in 2006.
M25 Three
Boys Err Burrill
Mahmood Hussein Mattan Mahmood Mattan, little known case of a Somali fisherman, hanged in Cardiff in 1952. Conviction overturned in 1998. £1.4 million compensation was shared out between Mattan's widow Laura, and her three children.
Angela Cannings Angela Cannings was jailed wrongly for four years on the now discredited evidence of Sir Roy Meadow.
1986 Michael Shirley Rape and murder of Linda Cook Portsmouth Life imprisonment 16 years 2003 Michael Shirley, a Royal Navy seaman, was convicted of the rape and murder of a 24-year-old barmaid in Portsmouth, Hampshire, in 1986. After completing the recommended minimum 15 years of his life sentence he maintained his innocence even though this meant he would not be released on parole. In 2002 the case was referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the Court of Appeal, where the conviction was quashed on the basis of fresh DNA evidence.[56]
Danny McNamee
Sallins Train Robbery Sallins Train Robbery
Stefan Kiszko Stefan Kiszko was convicted in 1976 for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old Lesley Molseed in 1975. He spent 16 years in prison before he was released in 1992, after a long campaign by his mother. He died of a heart attack the following year at the age of 41. His mother died a few months later. In 2007, Ronald Castree, of Shaw, near Oldham, was found to have the same DNA as Lesley's attacker and was convicted at Bradford Crown Court.
Thomas Whitbread
Adolf Beck
Christy Walsh
George Davis
Victor Nealon
Nora Wall
Birmingham Six The Birmingham Six were fraudulently convicted in 1975 of planting two bombs in pubs in Birmingham in 1974 which killed 21 people and injured 182. They were finally released in 1991.
Bridgewater Four The Bridgewater Four were convicted in 1979 of murdering Carl Bridgewater, a 13-year-old paper boy who was shot on his round when he disturbed robbers at a farm in Staffordshire. Patrick Molloy died in jail in 1981. The remaining three were released in 1997 after their convictions were overturned.
Andrew Evans Andrew Evans served more than 25 years for the murder of 14-year-old Judith Roberts. He confessed to the 1972 murder after seeing the girl's face in a dream. His conviction was overturned in 1997.
Guildford Four and Maguire Seven The Guildford Four and Maguire Seven were wrongly convicted in 1974 and 1976 respectively of planting bombs in various pubs in Guildford and Woolwich. Their convictions were quashed in 1989 and 1991. On February 9, 2005, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a public apology to the Maguire Seven and the Guildford Four for the "miscarriages of justice they had suffered."
Siôn Jenkins Sion Jenkins, acquitted after a second retrial of the murder of Billie-Jo Jenkins in February 2006. Jenkins was convicted in 1998 but the conviction was quashed in 2004 following a CCRC referral. The basis of the quashed conviction at the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) were the concessions by the Crown's pathologist that evidence given at the first tribunal were inaccurate.
Winston Silcott Winston Silcott was convicted (he was already serving 18 years for the murder of Tony Smith) for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the 1985 Broadwater Farm Riot in Tottenham. He was cleared in 1991, when new evidence came to light.
William Herbert Wallace William Herbert Wallace who was convicted of murdering his wife, but the conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1931, the first such instance of a capital conviction being quashed.
Derek Bentley Derek Bentley, executed for murdering a police officer. The charge was based on the allegation that during a standoff with police, he shouted to an armed friend 'Let him have it, Chris'. The case is often said to be a miscarriage of justice, and the verdict was overturned half a century later. It should be noted, however, that the grounds for overturning the verdict was that the trial had not been fair, due to various procedural defects. Had Bentley still been alive, there would certainly have been a retrial; he was not pronounced innocent by the Court of Appeal.
George Thatcher served 20 years following the murder of Dennis Hurden during the botched Mitcham Co-op burglary of 17 November 1962. Thatcher was initially sentenced to death, despite one of his co-accused admitting to the murder, but this was later reduced to a life sentence following an appeal.
1973 Stephen Downing Murder of Wendy Sewell 27 years Stephen Downing was convicted of the murder of Wendy Sewell in a Bakewell churchyard in 1973. The 17-year-old had a reading age of 11 and worked at the cemetery as a gardener. The police made him sign a confession that he was unable to read. The case gained international notoriety as the "Bakewell Tart" murder. After spending 27 years in prison, Stephen Downing was released on bail in February 2001, pending the result of an appeal. His conviction was finally overturned in January 2002.
Judith Ward In 1974 Judith Ward was convicted of murder of several people caused by a number of IRA bombings in 1973. She was finally released in 1992 having served 18 years in prison.
Sean Hodgson Sean Hodgson, also known as Robert Graham Hodgson, was convicted in 1982 of murder following various confessions to police, although he pleaded not guilty at his trial. His defence said he was a pathological liar and the confessions were untrue. He was freed on March 18, 2009 by the Court of Appeal as a result of advances in DNA analysis which established his innocence.[57]
Paul Blackburn Paul Blackburn was convicted in 1978 when aged 15 of the attempted murder of a 9-year-old boy, and spent more than 25 years in 18 different prisons, during which time he maintained his innocence. He said he had never considered saying he was guilty to secure an earlier release because it was a matter of "integrity". He was finally released in May 2005 having served 25 years when the Court of Appeal ruled his trial was unfair and his conviction 'unsafe'.
1988 Cardiff Three Murder Cardiff Life imprisonment 2 years 1992 The Cardiff Three, Steven Miller, Yusef Abdullahi, and Tony Paris were falsely jailed for the murder of prostitute Lynette White, stabbed more than 50 times in a frenzied attack in a flat above a betting shop in Cardiff's Butetown area on Valentine's Day 1988, in 1990 and later cleared on appeal. In 2003, Jeffrey Gafoor was jailed for life for the murder. The breakthrough was due to modern DNA techniques used on evidence taken from the crime scene. Subsequently, in 2005, nine retired Police Officers and three serving Officers were arrested and questioned for false imprisonment, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office. On 6 July 2011, eight of the officers stood trial at Swansea Crown Court for perverting the course of justice together with three witnesses accused of perjury. However, on 1 December 2011 the entire case collapsed, as the judge ruled the police officers could not be given a fair trial due to the previous publicity.[58]
1987 Cardiff Newsagent Three Murder Cardiff 11 years 1999 The Cardiff Newsagent Three, Michael O'Brien, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood, were wrongly convicted for the murder of a newsagent, Phillip Saunders. On October 12, 1987 Mr Saunders, 52, was battered with a spade outside his Cardiff home. The day's takings from his kiosk had been stolen, and five days later he died of his injuries. The three men spent 11 years in jail before the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction in 1999. The three have since been paid six figure compensation, but South Wales Police had still not apologised or admitted liability for malicious prosecution or misfeasance.
Barry George Barry George was cleared on August 1, 2008 of murdering Jill Dando after a retrial in which police were unable to rely on discredited forensic evidence.
Suzanne Holdsworth Suzanne Holdsworth served three years of a life sentence after she was convicted in 2005 of murdering Kyle Fisher, a neighbour's two-year-old son, by repeatedly banging his head against a wooden bannister at her home in Hartlepool. She was found not guilty in 2008 by the Court of Appeal after new medical evidence suggested Kyle may have died from an epileptic seizure.[59]
Barri White Barri White and Keith Hyatt. On 12 December 2000, Rachel Manning, aged 19, was found strangled to death and her face battered with a car crook lock, in the grounds of Woburn Golf Club, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Her boyfriend, Barri White, 20 at the time, was jailed for life in 2002 for her murder, only to be freed after being acquitted of killing her at a retrial. Mr White's co-accused, Keith Hyatt, 47 at the time, served two-and-a-half years for perverting the course of justice, relating to the post-death battering of the victim’s face, before also having his conviction quashed. Dr Peter Bull, an expert in geo-science forensics, labelled the evidence 'totally implausible'. Subsequently, in 2011, Shahidul Ahmed, 40, from Bletchley, appeared at Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court and was remanded in custody for Manning's murder after the case was reinvestigated by a new team, and convicted in September 2013.[60]
Eddie Gilfoyle Eddie Gilfoyle protested his innocence for nearly two decades after being convicted in 1993 of murdering his pregnant wife, Paula, and making it look like suicide. It subsequently emerged that two CID officers of Merseyside Police force had mens rea wilfully withheld evidence (most notably a diary) which would have proven Eddie Gilfoyle's innocence at the outset. Eddie Gilfoyle was released in 2012 after serving 19 years in prison.
Two Essex businessmen and former prisoners, Terry Pinfold and Harry MacKenney, were convicted of murder at the Old Bailey in 1980 after John Childs confessed in 1979 to six contract killings from 1974-8 and implicated the pair, his former employers, in the crimes. The bodies were never found, but MacKenney received a whole life tariff. Pinfold and MacKenney unsuccessfully appealed against their convictions in 1981 and were denied leave to appeal in 1987.[61] Pinfold was released on bail in September 2001. After a referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, both Pinfold and MacKenney had their convictions overturned at the Court of Appeal in December 2003. A forensic psychiatrist, David Somekh, concluded that Childs had a personality disorder that led him to compulsively lie, and the original trial jury were blocked from being told this.[61] Pinfold's lawyer said that former Detective Chief Inspector James Harrison-Griffiths was told in 1976 by Commander Bert Wickstead of the Metropolitan Police that the apparent first victim, Terry Eve - by then a missing person - was alive and living in west London.[61][62] Lord Woolf, with Mr Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Davis, ruled that Childs' evidence against the pair was unreliable because he was a "pathological liar".[63]
Sam Hallam Sam Hallam was wrongly jailed for life in 2005 for the murder of Essayas Kassahun. He was released in May 2012 after prosecutors told three senior judges that they would not oppose his appeal.[64]
Oscar Slater Oscar Slater was wrongfully convicted in 1909 of the murder of Marion Gilchrist on the flimsiest evidence, and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he served at hard labor until his conviction was quashed in 1928.[65]

United States[edit]

Due to the high number of notable wrongful conviction entries for the United States, the list can be viewed via the main article.

See also[edit]


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