Townend MP (Con.)
Mr. John Townend MP
House of Commons
22nd February 1999
Dear Mr. Townend,
I am writing to you today, sir, in your capacity as the Member of Parliament for East Yorkshire. I write on behalf of my brother, Derek Christian, who last resided in Driffield, within your constituency. I do so because Derek, having been wrongly convicted of murder, is now unjustly serving a mandatory life sentence.
As you may already be aware, Derek Christian was convicted in December 1997 of the murder of Mrs. Margaret Wilson in Burton Fleming in February 1995. As shown by the enclosed broad outline of the case, he was found guilty on the basis of purely circumstantial evidence, and in the face of evidence clearly indicating that he was not - and could not have been - the murderer.
I, along with many other people, am firmly convinced that Derek is innocent, that the evidence produced in court did not prove the Crown’s case beyond all reasonable doubt, and that the jury may have been misled by some of the evidence with which it was presented. I sincerely believe that this is an unsafe conviction. Indeed, the case prompted the Lord Chief Justice to comment as follows on Derek’s tariff period: "This is such a strange and obscure story that it is difficult to recommend any punitive term with complete confidence." One can only echo his words.
Derek has always protested his innocence, and will always continue to do so. Despite the nature of the evidence brought against him, he has not been granted leave to appeal against his conviction. The only way forward at present is through the Criminal Cases Review Commission. In the meantime, myself and others are preparing a case to present to the CCRC.
On Derek’s behalf I would request you to consider the enclosed outline of the case against him. I feel sure that you will then share an opinion voiced by many other people.
Namely, that this conviction warrants further review.
To this end, myself and others have launched a campaign in support of Derek and his application. We wish to see that justice is done, and not merely seen to be done. We would be grateful for any possible support which you feel you could offer.
I would also request your support in another matter relating to Derek’s case.
Derek’s tariff period is due to be set by the Secretary of State in February of this year. In the "Disclosure of Tariff Information" Mr. Justice Bell, the trial judge, recommended a term of imprisonment of 20 years for this "cruel, efficient killing". The Lord Chief Justice said in his comment on this tariff that he would "incline to recommend a somewhat shorter term, of 16-17 years". I would request you - should you feel able to do so - to make representations to the Secretary of State in support of the stance taken by the Lord Chief Justice. This would offer Derek a "window of hope" in what will, for him, be a long struggle to resume his rightful place in society.
The murder of Mrs. Margaret Wilson was a heinous crime. Of that there can be no doubt. What is in doubt, however, is the safety of Derek Christian’s conviction for this crime. I would respectfully ask you to undertake everything in your power to assist in reversing this miscarriage of justice.
||The Case Against Derek Christian|
||Disclosure of tariff information|