Sion Jenkins denied compensation

10 August 2010, 05:56 | Updated: 10 August 2010, 11:56

Former teacher Sion Jenkins was refused compensation for the six years he spent in prison before being acquitted of his foster daughter's murder, it was reported today.

Mr Jenkins launched a claim for up to £500,000 damages but his case was rejected by the Ministry of Justice, the Daily Mail reported.

Billie-Jo, 13, was found in a pool of blood with head injuries inflicted by a metal tent peg on the patio of the family's large Victorian home in Lower Park Road, Hastings, East Sussex, on February 15, 1997.

Jenkins, at the time headteacher-designate at all-boys William Parker School in Hastings, maintained his innocence and insisted Billie-Jo must have been killed by an intruder while he visited a DIY store.

In 1998 he was convicted at Lewes Crown Court of murdering her and jailed for life but he had a retrial in 2005 after successfully appealing.

However, the jury failed to agree a verdict and a second retrial ended the same way in 2006, allowing him to walk free.

In a newspaper interview in 2008 after the publication of his book The Murder of Billie-Jo, Mr Jenkins said he fitted ``all the criteria'' for a payout.

He said: ``I believe the Government should compensate me for taking away my liberty for six years, which also meant I lost the childhood of my daughters.''

Following the killing, his ex-wife, Lois, emigrated to Tasmania with their four daughters, who chose to have no contact with their father.

The Ministry of Justice said it was unable to comment on the compensation claim.

In his book, Mr Jenkins claimed he identified a possible new suspect for the murder of his teenage foster daughter.

He said he spoke to who he thought was a dark-haired, plain-clothed police officer in his hallway in the confused hour after Billie-Jo was found bludgeoned to death

A Sussex Police spokesman said: ``The murder of Billie-Jo Jenkins in 1997 remains an unresolved case and is therefore subject to review in the event of any new and compelling evidence coming to light.

``We will continue actively to pursue any viable lines of inquiry put to us, but none have emerged.''

Jenkins, who now lives in Hampshire after remarrying, insisted he would help police find Billie-Jo's killer.

On his website, Justice for Sion Jenkins, he wrote: ``Since I've been free I have been asked if I've now found peace and some kind of resolution. ``I will never feel resolution is possible while Billie's killer walks free.

``People encourage me to think of 'moving on' and putting everything behind me, but my priorities centre on getting justice for Billie. ``Since my acquittal I have been reading through every available piece of evidence.

``I have divided this into relevant sections and, with help from other people, I am in the process of trying to re-create the jigsaw of events.  ``I will not rest until Billie's killer is brought to justice.

``I need to know who ended her life. So I work, read and investigate to this end.

``Billie will never be forgotten. I will never give up. That is my message to the person who took her life.''

The widow of Billie-Jo's late father, Bill Jenkins, who by coincidence shared the same surname, criticised the decision by Jenkins to submit a compensation claim.

Elizabeth Jenkins, 62, from Canning Town, east London, said: ``Myself and the family think he had a cheek to put in for that money.

``I was pleased that he didn't get it because I don't think he should be a free man.

``As far as I'm concerned he should still be inside but he has just denied it all the time.''

Ms Jenkins, who wed her late husband months before he died from cancer, said he would be pleased at the refusal of compensation by the Ministry of Justice.

She added: ``He would be delighted that he was turned down because he felt in his heart that he didn't have any doubt about who did it.''

The Ministry of Justice said the Appeal Court has made clear that compensation should be paid out when someone has been shown to be ``clearly innocent''.

A spokesman said: ``We do not comment on individual cases. Awards are based on the individual circumstances of each case.

``The Court of Appeal has made clear that, in the court's view, the right test to adopt in deciding whether someone is entitled to compensation is whether they have been shown to be clearly innocent.''

The statement led Jenkins' campaigners to condemn what they called an ``insidious'' remark by the MoJ and added: ``In which universe does 'not guilty' mean 'not innocent'?''