Bid To Retry Man Over 1992 Murder Refused

19 February 2016, 14:24 | Updated: 19 February 2016, 14:25

Prosecutors have failed in a bid to retry a man cleared of murdering a teenage drama student more than 20 years ago.

Francis Auld stood trial at the High Court in Glasgow in 1992 for the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Duffy and was acquitted by a jury on a not proven verdict.

Ms Duffy's body was found on waste ground in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, in May that year.

The Crown Office applied to the High Court under double jeopardy legislation to set aside the acquittal and prosecute Mr Auld again over the death.

A hearing on the application took place before senior judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh last month.

Giving their ruling at a brief hearing at the court on Friday, judge Lady Dorrian said: "The application is refused.''

der the 2011 Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act, a suspect can face retrial for a very serious crime if "compelling new evidence'' emerged, if the original trial was tainted or where a suspect admitted the offence.

But the Crown cannot proceed with a retrial unless it gets permission from High Court judges to proceed.

Submissions in the current case were heard by the Lord Justice General, Lady Dorrian and Lord Bracadale.

Ms Duffy was last seen alive in Regent Way, Hamilton, in the early hours of May 30 1992.

At about 8pm that evening, her semi-naked body was found by passers-by in an area of wasteground adjacent to Miller Street in the town. Her face and head were covered in blood.

The Crown brought the retrial application claiming that alleged admissions made, or which became known of, after the acquittal substantially strengthened their case against Mr Auld when taken together with the evidence led at trial. Mr Auld denied that any of the alleged statements had been made.

Prosecutors relied on a conversation said to have happened between Mr Auld and a now-retired prison officer who in 1992 was working at HM Remand Institution at Longriggend.

But Mr Auld's legal team argued that the alleged statement to the officer was "inadmissible''.

The judges agreed and ruled the alleged statement was inadmissible as evidence and was not capable of being placed before a jury. Other alleged comments also failed to meet the necessary tests.

In their written decision, the judges concluded: "In reaching its decision the court is acutely conscious that this is a very delicate matter. The case is one which caused great distress to the family of the deceased, and shock within the community.

"The court must look at the evidence upon which the application is based, and the evidence led at the trial.

"It cannot be swayed by considerations of other, possibly strengthening, evidence, which may be in the hands of the Crown but which has not formed the basis of an application.''

The court also noted that the "vast majority of productions of any importance'' had been destroyed and could not be subjected to enhanced DNA analysis by either side.

The judges concluded that all of the conditions imposed by Parliament for a retrial under double jeopardy proceedings had not been met.

This is the first Crown application under the legislation to be refused.

The change to the centuries-old ''double jeopardy'' principle, which prevented a person being tried twice for the same crime, has already led to the conviction of serial killer Angus Sinclair for the World's End murders in the 1970s.

A Crown Office spokesman: "We note the court's decision. Given the application was based on alleged admissions, this does not prevent future applications being made and the case will remain under regular review by the cold case unit.''