John Halewood-Dodd column

John Halewood Dodd.
John Halewood Dodd.

I haven’t written anything with a legal theme of late so thought I should as it is what I’m supposedly knowledgeable on.

Dealing with a high number of cases things often become somewhat run of the mill, but every now and again we get a case that is out of the ordinary and can even be career defining.

This week I was extremely proud when one of my trainee solicitors, Sarah Magill, was extremely influential in achieving success at the Court of Appeal in a case that is being hailed as a “landmark in legal history.”

Whilst working with the Cardiff Innocence Project she headed a team investigating the case of Dwaine George, convicted at Preston Crown Court in 2001 of murder. Mr George had always denied the offence and having been convicted he approached the Innocence Project for help.

Sarah, and her team, accepted the case with relish and submitted the case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The case was funded ‘pro bono’, with all caseworkers, and lawyers expending their time without payment.

The appeal hinged on the admissibility of gun shot residue evidence, and Sarah’s team attacked the strength of this, and other evidence, as they felt it was extremely weak. The case made headlines on Tuesday of this week when three eminent judges quashed the conviction at the Court of Appeal. Greater Manchester Police have now re-opened the murder investigation.

On speaking to Sarah following the decision it was abundantly clear that she, and her colleagues, had worked tirelessly on Mr George’s behalf. Working in criminal law can be exhausting, with long nights spent reflecting on evidence. We endure disappointing defeats and jubilant victories on behalf of our clients but the vast majority who practice criminal law are committed to the cause.

We face a constant struggle to fund our work in the face of government cuts, but cases like that of Dwaine George remind us why we joined our profession; to never give up the fight for justice. For Sarah to be so prominently involved so early in her career makes me believe that she’s a star for the future.