Man convicted of murder in retrial

A man's been convicted of murdering a woman in the Thames Valley after being cleared of it 14 years ago.

35-year-old Mark Weston was originally cleared of battering Vikki Thompson near her home in Ascott-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire 15 years ago.

Mark WestonHe became the first person to be convicted as a result of a second trial after double-jeopardy laws were changed to allow a retrial if there is fresh forensic evidence.

Denis Burke, senior lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service Thames and Chiltern.

"Having waited 15 long years, Jonathan Thompson and his children have today seen justice for the murder of his wife and their mother."

Vikki Thompson was attacked on 12 August 1995 while walking her dog near her home in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire. She was struck repeatedly about the head with heavy objects, which caused skull fractures and a severe brain injury; she died six days later from her injuries.

Her husband Jonathan Thompson released this statement:

“Today justice has been done. It has taken over 15 years to arrive at this point but finally we have justice for Vikki and we are grateful for that. It has taken a change in the double jeopardy law and an advancement in DNA technology and a lot of hard work from the Police Cold Case Review team to get us to this point today. So, justice has been done in the court but, ultimately, there is no justice in death.

Mark Weston will be looked after in prison, Vikki is never coming back.

The death of a loved one, be it a wife, mother, daughter or sister – and Vikki was all of those – torments those who are left and it is worse when it is in such horrendous circumstances as this.

When Mark Weston killed my wife and the mother of our two children he took a part of me and them that will never come back.

We have to live with that. We have had to since Vikki died and we will have to for the rest of our lives.

So, there is no such thing as closure for us. Today marks the end of a chapter and we are pleased with the result but, while Mark Weston will one day be a free man again, we will never be free of the unbearable anguish that he brought to us on that day in 1995 when he killed our darling Vikki.

Finally, I want to thank Pete Beirne in particular and the Thames Valley Police for all the diligent work that they have put in over many years, in order to bring Mark Weston back to court.

They never gave up and they are the unsung heroes today.

Thank you."

Giving details on the case, Mr Burke said:

"Vikki Thompson was savagely attacked on a warm August afternoon in a peaceful Cotswolds village while she was walking her dog, Daisy. When Daisy returned alone to their house, Vikki Thompson’s husband, Jonathan, knew straight away that something was wrong. No one can imagine his state of mind as he took his children on a desperate search for her in their car."

Thames Valley Major Crime Review Team presented the CPS with new evidence in March 2009. As a result of a change in the law in 2005, which allows someone to be retried for a serious offence despite a previous acquittal, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, gave his consent for an application to be made to the Court of Appeal for the acquittal to be quashed and a retrial to be held.

The new and compelling evidence was small bloodstains found on the defendant’s boots, which matched Vikki Thompson’s DNA. Weston had always denied knowing her or being at the scene on that day. He could not explain to the jury in this trial how the blood had got on to his boots.

Forensic scientists told the court that the blood was wet when it came into contact with Weston’s boots; this was the prosecution’s case that accidental contamination could be excluded.

Mr Burke said:

"The court was told that during the course of the afternoon, while she was walking her dog down a country lane, Vikki Thompson saw Weston watching her as he performed a sex act. It was our case that he was concerned that she might tell someone about what she just had seen and so he chased her and violently attacked her. He struck her, causing her to bleed heavily, then dragged her to the nearby rail track to make it look as if she had been hit by a train. Evidence and statements from the neighbours supported the prosecution’s version of events. The attack was so violent that Vikki Thompson was never able to say who carried it out, and she died six days later in hospital. This is a tragic case that has shaken this normally peaceful, pretty village."

He added:

"We hope that this conviction will bring some comfort after all these years to Mr Thompson and his children, Vikki’s family, and all their friends."

Detective Superintendent Barry Halliday, head of Thames Valley Police's Major Crime Review Team, said:

"Mark Weston was originally tried in 1996 and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Thanks to an intensive investigation by my team, working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), LGC Forensics, and the Forensic Science Service (FSS), new forensic evidence was uncovered which proved Weston’s guilt and he has now been convicted of Vikki’s murder."

Weston pleaded not guilty and has still shown no remorse for his crime. Although the Thompson family now have the knowledge that the person who killed Vikki is behind bars and being punished for his crime, they have still lost a much loved wife, daughter and mother, and Weston has not given any reason or explanation of why he killed Vikki.

Here is the timeline on how the case unfolded:

August 12 1995:  Mrs Thompson is savagely beaten with a rock or similar object while walking her dog Daisy down a secluded lane in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire.

August 18: She dies in hospital from brain injuries.

September 13: Weston is arrested on suspicion of murder and interviewed. He denies responsibility and claims he was at home gardening.

February 1 1996: Weston is charged with murder.

November: Weston goes on trial at Oxford Crown Court.

December 3: The suspect is found not guilty. It later emerges the jury foreman wrote to Weston after the trial wishing him luck and urging him to sue police.

December 7: Mrs Thompson's widower Jonathan Thompson announces he will sue Weston for damages.

March 3 1997: Weston announces he will sue police for wrongful arrest and prosecution and he has been granted legal aid.

December 18: Weston admits harassing village beat bobby Pc Bob Salmon who was involved in the murder inquiry. He is given a two-year conditional discharge.

January 29 1999: Weston admits harassing neighbour Lucy Bull by putting notes through her door, shining a light into her house and making silent telephone calls.

He also put posters up around the village saying ``Lucy is a grass'' and ``Lucy is a police informer - don't trust her''.

August 12 2005: On the 10th anniversary of the murder Thames Valley Police reopen their investigation and Weston's clothes, including his boots, are resubmitted for forensic tests. Traces of Mrs Thompson's blood are found.

October 21 2009: Weston is rearrested on suspicion of murder and charged the next day.

July 30 2010: Weston appears in court to deny murder.

November 29: Weston goes on trial at Reading Crown Court.

December 13: He is found guilty of murder.