'Innocent and free' Sam Hallam welcomed home

Sam Hallma walks free from the Court of Appeal
Sam Hallma walks free from the Court of Appeal Photo: ITV News

Sam Hallam walked free from the Court of Appeal today having served more than six years for a murder he maintains he never committed.

The 24-year-old man from Hoxton, East London was released from court after a dramatic twist in his case today.

In court prosecutors said they would not challenge his appeal, and his lawyers described him a victim of a "serious miscarriage of justice". Geraint Vincent reports.

Sam Hallam was 18-years-old when he was found guilty and sentenced to life at the Old Bailey for the murder of trainee chef Essayas Kassahun.

His mother Wendy Cohen among the well-wishers who accompanied him from court. She said:

My family has been through hell. It has been torture for Sam and the whole family."

His brothers and sisters joined in the celebrations outside the Court of Appeal today. His father was found hanged in October 2010.

Since his conviction, his family and friends have mounted a high-profile campaign insisting he is innocent.

His case came before the appeal judges after it was referred to the court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Spencer, will give their ruling in the case at noon tomorrow, when they are expected to quash his conviction.

During today's hearing, Mr Hallam's QC Henry Blaxland told the judges that a miscarriage of justice was brought about by a combination of factors - including failure by the police to properly investigate Hallam's alibi and by non-disclosure of material by the prosecution that "could have supported his case". He said:

It is our case that this appellant Sam Hallam - and I put it boldly - has been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice brought about by a combination of manifestly unreliable identification evidence, the apparent failure of his own alibi, failure by police properly to investigate his alibi and non-disclosure by the prosecution of material that could have supported his case.

The prosecution case against Mr Hallam was based principally on the evidence of two witnesses who said they were present at the murder scene. They said they saw the then 17-year-old Hallam there and saw him take part in the fatal attack.

Mr Hallam, who was ordered to serve a minimum term of 12 years at the end of his trial, says he was elsewhere on the night of the killing.