A man who served 17 years in prison for a rape he says he did not commit could be allowed to appeal against his conviction for the first time after new DNA evidence emerged.
Andrew Malkinson, now 57, was convicted of raping a 33-year-old mother who was left for dead next to the M61 in Little Hulton, near Salford, in July 2003.
Despite no DNA or other forensic evidence linking Mr Malkinson to the crime, and the prosecution case relying mainly on identification evidence, he was jailed for life.
Mr Malkinson who is from Grimsby, applied for his case to be reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) twice, but was turned down, eventually being released from prison in December 2020.
But, now experts instructed by the CCRC have obtained a DNA profile from the victim’s clothing which matched another man on the National DNA Database.
In light of this, the CCRC say it has reviewed the new evidence and allowed the case to be referred to the Court of Appeal, where judges will decide whether to allow an appeal against the conviction.
In a statement issued by legal charity Appeal, Mr Malkinson said: “I am innocent. Finally, I have the chance to prove it thanks to the perseverance of my legal team at Appeal.
“I only have one life and so far 20 years of it has been stolen from me. Yesterday I turned 57 years old. How much longer will it take?”
The CCRC passed the DNA to Greater Manchester Police for investigators to consider and, in December 2022, officers arrested a 48-year-old man from Exeter.
He was later released under investigation.
Appeal say the new analysis of the DNA was only possible because samples had been kept by the government-owned company Forensic Archive Limited, and accused Greater Manchester Police (GMP) of having destroyed or lost exhibits.
CCRC chairwoman Helen Pitcher said: “The new results raise concerns about the safety of these serious convictions.
"It is now for the Court of Appeal to decide whether they should be quashed.”
GMP said the force will continue to assist the CCRC review of the case.
A spokesperson added: “Following the discovery of new DNA evidence a full forensic review is now taking place and on 13 December 2022 a 48-year-old man from Exeter was arrested on suspicion of a rape which took place in July 2003.
“He has been released under investigation.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know