Clerkwenwell miscarriage of justice’ appeal delayed again
A PENSIONER who campaigners say is the victim of “Britain’s longest-running miscarriage of justice” will have to wait until next year for his appeal to finally be heard.
Errol Clive Heibner, 65, known as John Heibner, was jailed in 1976 for the murder of Jewish shopkeeper Beatrice “Biddy” Gold in the office of her family’s clothing business in Clerkenwell.
South African-born Heibner, who now lives in east London, served 25 years behind bars for the “contract killing”, but continues to protest his innocence.
His case has now been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice.
This week, three senior judges heard argument from Heibner’s lawyers, and those for the Crown, about who should carry out the painstaking investigation into the 35-year-old cold case.
Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting with Mr Justice Bean and Mr Justice Spencer, described how Mrs Gold was shot three times and was found dead by her family in September 1975.
Heibner, an armed robber who was well known to police at the time, was convicted after the jury heard about a disputed admission he was alleged to have made.
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The Home Office ordered the Metropolitan Police to investigate the matter in 1979, and again in 1992, but neither investigation led to Heibner’s case coming back before the Appeal Court.
But it was referred to the Court of Appeal last year after the CCRC found there was “a real possibility” his conviction might now be overturned.
This time around Henry Blaxland QC, for Heibner, said the appeal centred around the “overall integrity of the investigation” into the murder.
He called for the records of six investigating police officers, both from before and since Heibner’s conviction, to be disclosed to his legal team.
But Sarah Whitehouse, for the Crown, said that, after two Home Office-led inquiries, and one investigation by the CCRC, there is already a vast amount of information for the two police officers now investigating the case to trawl through.
She added that interview tapes from the time were so old they “might not survive being played”.
Lord Justice Pitchford ordered the disclosure of interview transcripts from the time, adding that the tapes should only be listened to if that is deemed necessary by Mr Heibner’s legal team.
He also ordered disclosure of a number of documents demanded by defence counsel, including police notebooks from the time.
Speaking outside court, lawyers said the large amount of information linked to the case meant it was very unlikely Heibner’s appeal would be heard this year.