SHORTLY before midnight on 27 October 2010 Nasim Ahmed returned by car to his home in Newton Abbot. He’d been at a restaurant he part-owned with his brother-in-law, Faruk Ali. As he headed down the steps to his house, two men came and attacked Nasim. They beat him badly, using metal bars – and seemingly also a knife – as weapons.
Following the attack Nasim was still able to talk to his wife, daughter and the police. But once at the hospital the extent of his injuries became clear. He had a bone deep cut to the face. His skull had been shattered. Part of his brain was exposed to the air.
Nasim’s wife told police she saw the assault after hearing screams and looking out from an upstairs window. She described seeing two men wearing hooded tops, both taller than her husband, beating her husband on the ground. She immediately told the police that her husband had not seen either of the attackers’ faces and “he had no idea who had done this to him”.
Police then canvassed the area to see if anyone had seen the assailants’ faces. Neighbours described seeing two young white men running from the scene at speed.
Police searched the crime scene for evidence. They found a white handled knife, which Nasim’s wife and daughter said had been brought out from the kitchen for protection. In addition, they recovered a metal bar. Sometime later a blue baseball cap was also found.
A police tracker dog was used and appeared to indicate that the assailants had run to a vehicle parked just around the corner from Nasim’s house.
Nasim’s family members and restaurants staff, including Faruk, then arrived at his house after hearing the news of the attack. At some point in the conversation with police, the subject of a silver BMW with a certain number plate came up.
THE next morning on 28 October, a police officer spotted a silver BMW with a matching number plate and began following it. The vehicle came to a stop without prompting and the officer arrested the man inside, whose clothing was wet and muddy, on suspicion of attempted murder. The man’s name was Abul Ali and his wife was the sister of Nasim’s wife.
Abul declined to speak beyond saying that he “was going to drive himself to a police station anyway”, according to police. In the BMW, police lifted fingerprints and took items for DNA testing.
The police asked Nasim’s wife if Abul was one of the attackers. She did not identify him as such, but indicated he was the same size as one of them.
Police put the fingerprints lifted from the BMW through the national database. They matched Abul’s uncle, Roger Khan. Although Roger did not fit the descriptions given by the witnesses at the scene, by virtue of simply being in that same car Roger now became the police’s second prime suspect.
EARLIER in the day on 27 October, Abul Ali had called his uncle Roger Khan to ask him if he would help him with a long drive from London to Devon in return for some cash and a train ticket back to London. Roger agreed, seeing it as a chance to get out the house, where he was spending a lot of time due to illness.
When they arrived in Newton Abbot in Abul’s silver BMW, Roger was dropped off by the Penn Inn Roundabout. He was unfamiliar with the town and he stopped in a pub for a drink. He was told that he had missed the last train back to London, and so he went for another drink, picked up some tins and then slept in a park under a shelter.
He returned back to London the next day, having never been to Nasim’s house and taken no part in his attack. The police then tracked him down at his partner’s home and arrested him.
THIS was not the first time Roger found himself arrested for a crime he maintains that he did not commit.
In 1987, he was convicted of one armed robbery charge but cleared of four others. He has always insisted that the charges were pinned on him by a police officer after he refused to become an informant. The officer was subsequently disgraced for selling information from the Police National Computer. He was also a member of the Catford police, who as BBC Panorama exposed recently, were notoriously corrupt in this era. Roger’s case was investigated by the late Private Eye journalist Paul Foot as a miscarriage of justice.
“I did ten and half years for a crime I did not commit,” Roger explains. He went on hunger strike in protest against his conviction and on one occasion had to be resuscitated. “They offered me parole and to go home from the hospital but I said no as that would be admitting I did it.”
Still weak from the hunger strike, Roger was then moved to HMP Highpoint, where he describes being surrounded and threatened by three unfamiliar prisoners, resulting in a later brawl in which Roger stabbed two of them. “I regret it to this day,” Roger says. He pled guilty.
After his eventual release in 1997, Roger led a quiet life. He did his best to deal with the anxiety and panic attacks he suffered from. He would work odd jobs, mostly helping out with plumbing and electrics. By 2010, he was spending the majority of his time with his partner Marie (not her real name), who he loved dearly. Roger would often take her dog, a Jack Russell called Angel who was “good as gold”, for walks. He would also pick Marie up when she finished work and the pair would go to the park or the woods together.
This quiet life ended abruptly when Roger found himself arrested once again for a crime he did not commit.
"I did ten and a half years for a crime I did not commit. They offered me parole and to go home from the hospital but I said no as that would be admitting I did it."
The puppet master
FARUK ALI, co-owner of the restaurant with the victim Nasim Ali, has a history of violence. He was convicted in 2007 for attacking a customer in his restaurant with a metal bar. In 2014, he was even branded “Britain’s cruelest husband” in the Mail on Sunday because of his manipulative treatment and domestic abuse of his ex-wife Laura Lyons.
Faruk is also the brother-in-law of Nasim Ahmed, the victim. Before the attack, both Abul Ali and Faruk had apparently been engaged in some sort of campaign of extortion against Nasim.
Faruk also co-owned restaurants with Nasim, and stood the most to gain financially if Nasim passed over his business interests. Indeed, the local press’ write up of the story at the time stated: “Mr Ali said Mr Ahmed's future within the business is in doubt and he may retire when he is back to full health, leaving his brother-in-law in control of the business.”
In addition to evidence that Faruk might have a motive for the attack, there are certain facts which should have seen him become a prime suspect in the case. The silver BMW which Abul was arrested in, for instance, was registered to Faruk’s address. It was found to contain passport related documents that may have related to illegal workers in Faruk’s restaurant.
Yet in what would be one of many missteps in the police’s investigation, Faruk did not become the prime suspect alongside Abul Ali. Instead, the focus was diverted to Roger Khan, even though he knew nothing of the family vendetta against Nasim and had never even met him before.
WHY did the police’s investigation pay little serious attention to Faruk Ali?
One clue has since emerged: Faruk appears to have been a close personal friend of one of the officers on the case. It turns out that officer’s daughter worked in one of Faruk’s restaurants while the officer’s partner did work on the windows of Faruk’s house. There was even talk, in fact, of the officer purchasing Faruk’s home.
Most remarkably, the officer was scheduled to go out for dinner with Faruk the night after the attempted murder on Nasim.
Troublingly, this connection with a key player in the case did not stop this officer having primary responsibility for the phone evidence in the investigation. Such enquiries might have confirmed what the victim Nasim Ahmed had told police: that Faruk had called to find out about his whereabouts the night of the attack.
Even more worrying, even though they eventually had one of Faruk’s phones in their possession, the police decided not to examine it further.
Years later, the Criminal Cases Review Commission – the miscarriage of justice review body – said it was satisfied that the connection between the officer and Faruk did not mean that the police had any conflict of interest. They said that the officer declared the links to her superior and “appropriate safeguards” were put in place – although it did not identify what exactly those safeguards were. This simply cannot be good enough.
The police investigation into the attack on Nasim was also handicapped by a series of blunders. For instance, they did not secure the crime scene, meaning anyone could have tampered with it, including Faruk, and they failed to make reasonable efforts to track down the victim’s phone which had gone missing from the scene.
Roger’s previous experience of being mistreated and in his terms “fitted up” by the police influenced the way he acted in the interview. He was cagey and reluctant to give police definite answers, not wanting to do something that would amount to informing on his sister’s son, Abul, who he knew was in custody. “I’m really apprehensive,” he told them. “I’ve already been through all this once you know, I’ve answered when I’m innocent.”
Roger ended up shutting down – something that would later be used to portray him as a liar – not realising how crucial it was to give a full account of his movements, as he knew he was innocent and assumed this would soon be established.
While Roger was being grilled, the duty solicitor sat there apparently distracted, drawing doodles on his notes.
"I'm really apprehensive. I've already been through all this once you know, I've answered when I'm innocent."
Criminal legal aid spending declined from £2.4bn to £1.6bn in the last Parliament.
"Anyone would, when they wasn't doing the things that needed to done."
IN theory, legal aid guarantees that whether a person accused of a crime is rich or poor they will be provided with a legal team work on their behalf to test or even challenge the case put against them. It is an essential part of making sure people get a fair trial in an adversarial system, especially when they are accused of the most serious crimes.
In practice, however, the situation is very different. Criminal legal aid spending declined from £2.4bn to £1.6bn in the last Parliament as the hourly rates paid to lawyers defending the poor tumbled. On top of this, dis-incentives to providing the highest quality legal representation to clients are built into the fee structures. Page count parameters and fixed fees mean that it pays more to do less work for the accused, even if it might prove their innocence.
Roger Khan told the first solicitors assigned to his defence that he was innocent and that he wanted them to obtain CCTV footage from pubs and betting shops from around Newton Abbot which would support his alibi. However, the firm never did the work. It seems they did not believe in their client - in their letter to counsel, the solicitors did not even mention the fact that Roger was maintaining his innocence.
After losing faith in these representatives, Roger asked for new ones. A new firm was assigned to his defence, though not the London firm he had wanted. Once again, these new solicitors did not make any efforts to secure CCTV evidence of his innocence or do further investigation. Extremely dissatisfied, Roger asked the judge for new representatives to replace them. “I don’t trust them,” Roger told the judge.
The lawyers portrayed Roger’s complaint about their lack of investigation as a grievance to do with bail. The judge accepted this account. He told Roger he would not be providing him with any other representation: it was the lawyers he didn’t trust or nobody.
Roger decided to sack the lawyers. “Anyone would, when they wasn’t doing the things that needed to be done,” he explains.
The Judge decided not to have Roger assessed for competency to conduct his own defence. Had he done, he might learned that Roger had been diagnosed with dyslexia and taught himself to read aged 17 using Commando comic books. “It would be lucky if I got more than three years in school. I got a street education,” Roger recalls.
Since the Judge did not take this step, Roger would now have to represent himself at an attempted murder trial without any kind of legal training – and without the ability to take notes. One of the world’s richest countries had failed provide him with lawyers who would investigate his defence or even give him the presumption of innocence that was supposed to protect him.
ROGER now had four and a half months to prepare his case from inside his cell at Exeter prison.
Although he was never given the pub and betting shop CCTV footage, a few weeks before the trial began the police did give Roger DVDs with 790 hours of video from various town cameras where footage could still be recovered. Although Roger was unfamiliar with Newton Abbot, he would now have to review the video to see if he could track his movements in a way that would prove his innocence.
What resources were provided to Roger to help him with this mammoth task, which those who have worked with CCTV footage will tell you requires a thorough, systematic review? He was allowed one or two hours a day in prison to review the DVDs. He was forced to try a “lucky dip” approach whereby, fingers-crossed, he might be able to find himself in 790 hours of footage, without knowing any of the street references.
To make things worse, Roger recalls: “I could not see the videos as my glasses in prison were of the wrong prescription and falling apart”.
Roger having to singlehandedly review the CCTV evidence is particularly concerning because it appears the police's review of footage was not as thorough as was suggested to the jury. Although the police presented footage of Roger outside ASDA the morning after the crime, they failed to provide any images of him on the way to the supermarket - even though he would surely have been recorded on other cameras. This lends support to the view that the police's treatment of CCTV evidence was in some way selective and missed out footage that could be helpful to Roger.
On top of having to analyse the CCTV footage, Roger, who has no background in science, had to analyse the findings of highly technical analysis of DNA evidence for himself, without the help of experts. And the police only ordered some of the evidence tested – once they had a link with Roger, the testing stopped. But Roger had an innocent reason for his DNA appearing on items from the silver BMW he had travelled in with his nephew on the long drive to Newton Abbot.
ROGER and Abul Ali’s joint trial for attempted murder began at Exeter Crown Court in July 2011.
As a litigant in person, Roger was bombarded with new disclosure from the prosecution as it came in and he had to question witnesses all by himself. This task, which would have been challenging to most lawyers, was made all the more difficult for Roger after he decided to go on hunger strike after the Judge rejected his argument that there was no case to answer.
“How can I look at three bin bags of papers and be on hunger strike and meeting with the prosecution and run my own case?” Roger asks. “I felt like saying to hell with it all. The paperwork felt like it was coming out the back of your head.”
Not eating left Roger dizzy and unable to concentrate. It got to the stage where he passed out in the cells and missed out on some of the proceedings.
The Judge was adamant about going forward regardless, saying: “I have already expressed my serious anxiety about this declining state of health, but I am not going to let this trial be held to ransom. We will get to the end of this case, one way or another.”
The judge did not inform the jury that Roger was refusing to eat, something that Roger believes was unfair. He thinks “they should have been told about it as my manner and frustrations could easily of been misconstrued as being down to something other than the fact I wasn’t eating or drinking throughout my trial.”
THE only legal advice Roger received during his trial was from a barrister unfamiliar with the case who was asked to talk to Roger about certain legal issues. This barrister could not remedy the complete failure of the solicitors to secure evidence of the alibi. Furthermore, the junior Crown barrister was made to visit Roger in the cells to discuss what would happen next, and what the questions Roger wanted to ask would lead to. Plainly, neither could protect Roger’s interests.
Roger struggled to question witnesses. He could not meet with them pre-trial and the only way he could get them to attend was by asking to have them arrested if they did not obey a court summons, which was hardly likely to ensure their co-operation on the stand.
One individual Roger had wanted to testify was Faruk Ali’s then wife, Laura Lyons. However, he was never given this opportunity.
Laura was called to testify, but was she was pregnant and afraid. In the previous month she was again attacked by Faruk and received head, chest and stomach injuries which left the hospital struggling to find a heartbeat of her unborn child. “When I was called to testify I had moved out and was trying to avoid any further involvement with Faruk or his immediate family,” she recalls.
“I was subjected to terrible abuse from him even whilst I was pregnant with our daughter and I was in total fear that any further involvement with him or this case could have been life threatening to both me and my unborn child. I could not take that risk and had to put my unborn child's safety first,” she says.
“I told the police that I was in fear for my life, which is why I never gave statements to the police previously about the attacks that took place on myself. Deep down I think the police knew I wouldn't attend court and testify. I don’t know what they told the court. My doctor provided a letter that said that calling me to court in my condition and given the history was not acceptable. To have given an account about what was going on at that time would have had serious implications on myself, my family and my unborn child. I was not prepared to sacrifice anyone’s safety.”
The lack of experts at his disposal also hindered Roger’s ability to effectively challenge the case against him. A prime example was when the prosecution presented a spreadsheet to the jury to argue that there had been a large number of calls between Roger and Abul leading up to the crime, as they were planning the attack. The sheet listed each call twice, incoming and outgoing, including attempted calls, giving the impression of a much larger number of calls.
In fact, the call data showed that Roger and Ali may have spoken to one another or left messages on 19 occasions in the month of October, with no call lasting more than two minutes and forty-eight seconds. But the impression from the spreadsheet was of an intense series of contacts, which the prosecution argued suggested planning of the crime.
TO make matters even harder for Roger, he had to deal with the presence of the victim’s family members in the courtroom, including some who would later be called as witnesses.
Among these individuals was Faruk Ali. Roger was made to defend himself while the man who masterminded the attack watched from the public gallery.
Eventually, Roger was able to question Faruk on the stand. Unsurprisingly, he could not get Faruk to admit his involvement in attack. But had the case been investigated by solicitors and Roger been represented in court, Roger’s counsel could have caught Faruk out in any number of lies and thoroughly undermined his protestations that he was not involved.
AT the start of the trial Roger’s co-defendant Abul had been denying any role at all in the attack on Nasim. However, he then amended his defence case statement to say that in fact he had met two men in the silver BMW and paid two men money to go and “persuade” Nasim to take a lie detector test. Abul said the plan had been for him to stay at Faruk’s that night, since Faruk had been doing the arranging.
Then, just a couple of days before the trial ended, Abul change his statement again, this time saying that the two thugs had been sent simply to menace Nasim. According to the summing up, Abul claimed to have met two white men after dropping Roger off at the Penn Inn roundabout. Abul said that he paid them some money, and one of the two men borrowed Abul’s Helly Hansen jacket.
After the men left, Abul claimed he took a nap and then Faruk entered the car. Faruk left after a while, saying he would return, but never did. Then, the two thugs returned one at a time, conceding that they had messed up but nevertheless demanding the rest of the money.
Abul then claimed that he had a struggle with one of the men, and the other pulled a knife, threatening him with reprisals against his family if he spoke to the police.
Abul had effectively confessed to responsibility for the crime. But Roger was in no position to be able to deal with this dramatic change in his co-defendant’s story. It was the kind of bombshell that would have tested the ability of skilled counsel. Whether it was Faruk and Abul who did the actual beating, or hired thugs, is still unclear. But what is clear is that Roger’s trial was unfair and his conviction is unsafe.
“AT trial it was frustrating. You can’t say what you need to say; it’s like your hands are tied… I am stuck inside – I can’t go and get any evidence,” Roger recalls.
“Sitting there in the dock, with the police, the jury, the judge, the witnesses, the prosecutor – they all seemed connected and they were all coming for me.”
Roger’s ordeal left him with a clear conclusion that should unsettle all those who want the British justice system to be the best in the world: “It was a kangaroo court.”
"How can I look at three bin bags of papers and be on hunger strike and meeting with the prosecution and run my own case?"
"Sitting there in the dock, with the police, the jury, the judge, the witnesses, the prosecutor – they all seemed connected and they were all coming for me."
"It was a kangaroo court."
The judge only dismissed a juror connected to several different actors in the case three weeks in to the four week trial.
TO Roger, everyone in the trial seemed to be against him: the judge, the prosecution, his co-defendant and the hostile witness allowed to roam the courtroom. Was the jury at least impartially observing the evidence before them?
It appears doubtful. Juror number 5 told the court just after opening remarks that she knew Faruk Ali’s then wife, Laura Lyons. The Judge questioned her and seemed to be satisfied that it was merely a “passing acquaintance”.
Roger, concerned that having a juror be dismissed would delay the trial and assured that it was not a close relationship, decided not pursue their dismissal. Without legal representation, no one told Roger that discharging a juror would not necessarily cause delay.
Then signs began to emerge that it was not merely a “passing acquaintance” and that juror 5 had several connections to players in the case. She worked at the GP practice where the victim went daily to have his dressing changed following being discharged from the hospital. Her son worked on IT in a civilian capacity for the police. Her brother was in relationship with Faruk’s mother in law. Certainly any juror aware of Faruk’s propensity for violence would have concerns about acquitting Roger, as if it wasn’t Roger in the dock, there was a strong argument that it should be Faruk.
Eventually, having spent three weeks associating with the rest of the jury and with only a week left of the trial to go, the juror was finally dismissed.
WHAT did the physical evidence in the case suggest about who carried out the attack on Nasim Ahmed? Can it tell us for certain who was responsible?
No, but it strongly suggests that Abul Ali was telling at least part of the truth in his account that he and Faruk Ali were in the silver BMW car plotting mayhem. Faruk could not be excluded as a minor contributor to DNA found on a cloth cap and snood found in the car.
There is nothing in the physical evidence that proves Roger was at the scene of the beating.
There is the blue baseball cap found at the crime scene, which belonged to Abul Ali, and had the DNA of at least three people on it. This included blood of the victim, Nasim Ahmed. “Wearer” samples from the band showed what Roger readily admits: that he had borrowed and worn the hat on the drive up from London before giving it back. As for the minor DNA contribution, Faruk Ali could not be excluded as the donor. Hair, fibres and debris recovered from the hat were not examined further – the police stopped testing once they had included Nasim and Roger. But clearly this was an object which several people had been in contact with, and should have been subjected to further testing to see if additional profiles could be established.
Next, there is the Helly Hansen jacket that also belonged to Abul Ali and was found in the silver BMW. Blood on the right sleeve of the jacket was tested, coming back showing Nasim as the major contributor. There is an incomplete profile within the stain identified as blood on the jacket sleeve that does not come from the victim, Mr Khan or Abul.
A neck area sample from the jacket generated a mix profile of up to three people, with Abul as the major contributor.
Again, many of Faruk’s DNA components were observed on the jacket, meaning he it could not be excluded that a trace portion of the DNA originated from him. When Faruk got word tof this, he went to Abul’s lawyer and made a false statement that purported to explain away any DNA found on the jacket that was his. He said that the jacket had been in various protagonists homes over the previous year and had been transported between them by him, Faruk. This statement was never presented.
On the metal bar presumed to have been used to beat Nasim, biological material was tested and DNA found from at least two people. The major contributor was, unsurprisingly, the victim. The minor component was considered to be too small to make meaningful comparisons with.
What the forensics offered, then, was nothing that proved Roger took part in the attack. Yes, his DNA was found on the headband of his nephew’s baseball cap, but given Roger wore it in the car, it is a moveable object and the crime scene was not secured, this is not enough evidence to find a man guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Instead, the physical evidence left wide open the possibility of someone who was not Roger being at the scene and involved in the beating, such as a hired thug or thugs, or Faruk.
The physical evidence left wide open the possibility of someone who was not Roger being at the scene and involved in the beating.
ROGER wrote his initial appeal himself, with a solicitor looking it over after a journalist tried to help him find one. A single judge reviewed his application and denied it, mistakenly believing that the evidence against Roger had been “overwhelming” and misapprehending the volume of phone contact between Roger and Abul Ali in the run up to the attack.
Roger’s next shot at an appeal, this time considered by three judges, was also rejected. Without all the information in front of them, the Court dismissed the difficulties Roger had faced in preparing his own defence, finding that: “The resources of the police were made available to him in… playing CCTV footage in the format he wanted.” But Roger never got the footage he most wanted and had just hour or two a day to analyse 790 hours of video of a town he was totally unfamiliar with from behind bars.
Moreover, the full panel's decision contained straightforward errors. It talked about how “the defendants were linked by a large number of emails” - despite the fact the emails concerned were with other parties and did not concern Roger.
A solicitor advocate was present at this full court hearing, but “I wasn’t allowed to be in court for the hearing or to be on video link,” Roger remembers. “The blood and most of my grounds were not answered and they called it a hearing. I call it yet another cover up where yet again I never got a fair hearing. Is that justice?”
THE Criminal Cases Review Commission should have been Roger’s saviour. The body was established in 1995 to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice and refer unsafe convictions to the Court of Appeal.
However, the body has seen its funding slashed over the past decade – from £8.1m to £5.1m – while its caseload has soared. “For every £10 that my predecessor had to spend on a case a decade ago, I have £4 today,” the body’s Director, Richard Foster, told MPs. As a result, the CCRC takes an average of nine months just to begin considering an application from an individual wishing to appeal their conviction. When it does start considering a case, the Commission has far fewer resources to carry out investigation than it used to.
In Roger’s case, getting his application considered by the CCRC took three years. His application was originally submitted in 2013. He was told it would take 17 months to process so he withdrew it and went straight to the Court of Appeal, not realising that this would mean that he would lose his place in the Commission queue.
It was only in March of this year that he got a provisional response: the body was not inclined to refer his conviction to the Court of Appeal as it felt that there was no real possibility that the Court would find his trial unfair or his conviction unsafe.
THE CCRC was created to correct the mistakes made by the courts at trial. However, for Roger it has so far failed in this role. “At trial I felt totally alone. In some ways I still do. Nothing has changed. I am still in prison. They [the CCRC] say wait. Then they say trust us, we checked,” he says.
“I have been here for five and a half years. How long do I have to serve for a crime I didn’t do? When am I going to get my life back with Marie? Are we going to be racing each other around the corner on our Zimmer frames?”
Roger’s experience of trying to end his wrongful imprisonment by getting his conviction quashed has left him with straightforward view: “There is no justice in this system.”
"For every £10 that my predecessor had to spend on a case a decade ago, I have £4 today."
"I have been here for five and a half years. How long do I have to serve for a crime I didn't do?"
"In light of the CCRC's provisional decision, Roger now needs the public's support more than ever to secure justice."
"I don't want sympathy, I just want a chance to present the evidence."
ROGER is currently one of 450 inmates at HMP Whitemoor, a maximum security facility in March, Cambridgeshire. It is considered one of the harshest prisons in the England and Wales.
In 2015, for instance, it was revealed that one prisoner there had been kept in isolation for two and a half years, even though a governor can usually only segregate a prisoner for 72 hours.
Last year also saw a riot squad called into Whitemoor to end a nine hour siege where a prisoner had taken another inmate hostage and started a series of fires.
It is in this environment where Roger, despite his innocence, is now six years into a thirty-year sentence. “I am banged up 21 hours a day,” he says.
He is also apart from Marie, who just wants him back. “I don’t want no one else,” she says. “I’m waiting for him to come home. I love him.”
Roger’s wrongful conviction, Marie says, has transformed her life. “I’m waiting for him. He’s a good guy. He’s in there for nothing and I’m not going to let him down.”
Marie talks to Roger everyday on the phone and sends him letters once or twice a week.
In March 2016, Marie’s dog Angel, who Roger used to take for walks, sadly passed away.
CURRENTLY Roger is represented by the Centre for Criminal Appeals, a non-profit law office which relies on grants and donations to carry out the investigation on cases that the Legal Aid Agency is unable to fund.
His solicitor, Emily Bolton, thinks Roger’s case is symptomatic of a justice system in which it is now all too easy for an innocent person to find themselves swept into a prison cell.
“Roger is ultimately a victim of politicians trying to do justice on the cheap and of the absence of a culture of defence investigation in this country. Where I used to work, in the United States, a good lawyer would have got the court to order the CCTV of the pubs Roger was in produced, and their in-house investigator would have trawled through it to find Roger,” she says.
“With legal representatives willing to investigate on his behalf and the assistance of forensic experts, Roger could have had a fair trial that ended with an accurate result. Instead, we ended up in a situation where public safety is at risk. We have locked up an innocent man, and at least one of the culprits of this terrible crime is still at large.
“As a result of underfunding, the overburdened CCRC took years to begin looking at Roger’s case and has still not carried out the in depth investigation the case needs, including an investigation of the relationship between Faruk Ali and Devon and Cornwall Police.
“If we care about public safety and want a justice system that gets accurate results and rectifies mistakes quickly, we have to signal to our politicians that this is something worth paying for.
“In light of the CCRC’s provisional decision, Roger now needs the public’s support more than ever to secure justice.”
Emily is currently working on a formal challenge to the CCRC’s provisional response.
As for Roger, he remains desperate for an opportunity to prove his innocence to the Court of Appeal so he can secure his release and be reunited with Marie.
“I don’t want sympathy, I just want a chance to present the evidence,” Roger says of his case. “Just look at the DNA. I wasn’t there, so why am I here?”
“At the end of the day we need to get everything out. Let the people decide.”
You can find out how to help the Centre for Criminal Appeals win justice for Roger and others like him here.
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Roger Khan (A5724AY)
Roger would like to thank everyone for the messages of support he's received to date:
“I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone for the messages of support. It was a close as you can get to a good day in prison to get those messages.”