Video report by ITV Granada Reporter Andrew Misra
The Appeal Court has quashed the rape conviction of a man who spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Andrew Malkinson, from Grimsby, was previously found guilty of attacking a woman in Salford in 2003, even though - three appeal judges were told - there was "no forensic matter" linking him to the crime.
Judges ruled that verdict was "unsafe" after hearing new DNA evidence, taken from the victim's fingernails, skin and clothing, did not match Mr Malkinson.
"Today we told this court I was innocent and finally they listened," he said.
"But I have been innocent all along for each of those twenty years that came before today. Nothing any police officer, court or commission said about me since 2003 changed that reality."
Mr Malkinson spoke outside court saying the authorities had not believed him until now.
Overturning Mr Malkinson’s convictions, for two counts of rape and one of choking or strangling with intent to commit rape, Lord Justice Holroyde said Mr Malkinson had waited "many years" to leave the court a free man.
Delivering the ruling he said: "We must keep Mr Malkinson waiting no longer.
"We have no doubt that the new evidence shows these convictions to be unsafe.
"We allow the appeals against conviction. We quash the convictions.
"Mr Malkinson, having waited so many years, you leave the court a free man."
Lord Justice Holroyde tells Andrew Malkinson he is now a "free man."
Mr Malkinson's lawyer, Edward Henry KC, had told the hearing: "This is an historic case but also an historic injustice.
"DNA testing, which Mr Malkinson had called for since his arrest, now supports his long standing protestations of innocence.
"It was not, and could not have been, [him.]"
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) apologised to Mr Malkinson after the ruling saying they were "sorry" he was the "victim of such a grave miscarriage of justice."
Addressing the victim of the crime he did not commit, he said: “I am so sorry that you were attacked and brutalised that night by that man. I am not the person who attacked you but what happened to me is not your fault.”
Mr Malkinson’s mother Tricia Hose, in her mid-70s, said: “Now Andy’s name has been cleared, suddenly in the public eye, I am no longer a deluded mother.
“My son is no longer a monster.
“But what has been done to him cannot be undone. The damage will be with him for the rest of his life and the woman who got attacked has been denied justice, just as my son was.”
The court reserved a ruling on further grounds for appeal raised by Mr Malkinson's legal team.
The prosecution at the time was based on identification evidence which Mr Henry described as having "deplorable disclosure failures which mostly lay at the door of Greater Manchester Police."
The lawyer raised the issue of a photo showing the victim with a broken fingernail, after she scratched her attacker deeply on the cheek. He told the court it was not disclosed during the trial.
Mr Malkinson had no cheek injury, he added, when arrested on the day after the woman had been assaulted.
Judges also heard that a key witness was "actively abusing drugs" and picked out Mr Malkinson from an electronic ID parade while the witness was being investigated for unrelated offences.
The defence in the trial, Mr Henry said, were unaware of that. He added that the previous convictions of two witnesses were also not disclosed, meaning the jury could not question whether they were "honest."
"There was," he told judges, "ample material the defence could have used to undermine [their] credibility and reliability."
The now 57-year-old served 10 extra years, beyond his original minimum term of seven years, because he would not admit to the crime while in prison.
"I am left outside this court without an apology," Mr Malkinson said.
"Without an explanation, jobless, homeless and expected to simply slip back into the world with no acknowledgement of the gaping black hole they opened up in my life.
"A black hole that looms so large behind me, even here today, that I fear it will swallow me up.
"All this time, the person who really did this horrific crime has been at large. This means it is not just me who has been denied justice - it is the victim."
Both GMP and the Crown Prosecution Service previously announced they would not contest the appeal.
Mr Malkinson's case was referred to the Court of Appeal in January by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates potential miscarriages of justice.
He previously applied twice for his case to be reviewed by the CCRC, but was turned down, eventually being released from prison in December 2020.
Following his release, scientific advancements allowed his legal team to provide new DNA analysis that cast doubt on his conviction to the CCRC.
The organisation then commissioned its own testing which found DNA from the victim's clothing matched someone else.
Last January, GMP confirmed a man had been arrested and released under investigation, in light of the new information.
In a statement today, Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Jackson said: "We are truly sorry to Mr Malkinson that he is the victim of such a grave miscarriage of justice.
"Whilst we hope this outcome gives him a long overdue sense of justice, we acknowledge that it does not return the years he has lost.
"We are also profoundly sorry to the victim of this crime. We are absolutely committed to following all new lines of enquiry to ensure the right person is held accountable for harming her.
"Whilst this case tragically led to the wrong person being convicted, these instances are thankfully very rare."
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