Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Surely Sion Jenkins is either innocent or he isn't

The BBC website reports that Sion Jenkins, who was convicted, in 1998 of the murder of his stepdaughter, but later acquitted after two successive retrial juries failed to reach a verdict, has been refused compensation.

I can't profess to any knowledge of the legalities of this, but morally it seems a highly questionable decision. Surely if his conviction has been overturned then he ought to be regarded in the eyes of the law as as innocent of the crime.

Before his arrest he enjoyed a successful professional career (he had just been appointed head teacher of a secondary school) and good standing in the local community. To be arrested, convicted, spend several years in prison for a crime of which he is now deemed not guilty is by any standards personally catastrophic. The state that inflicted such a catastrophe on him surely has some duty to compensate him. Not to do so leaves a sense that his innocence is a mere technicality and he is somehow "guilty really" .

From what I have seen of Jenkins (largely gleaned from watching a documentary about the case) he doesn't come across as a particularly warm or sympathetic character. Perhaps he doesn't really need the compenstion money. Doubtless some people still believe him to be guilty. But that shouldn't matter. Either the state regards him as guilty or it doesn't. And if it doesn't it owes him some reparation for having wrongly convicted and incarcerated him, depriving him of his good name, professional career and family life in the process.