A MAN wrongly jailed for sex crimes 13 years ago has finally triumphed in an Appeal Court bid to clear his name – after one of his accusers admitted lying to a judge and jury.
Tracey Anthony Simpson, 49, was locked up for five and a half years at Leeds Crown Court in December 1999 after he was convicted of four counts of indecent assault and two of gross indecency with a child.
Mr Simpson, of Thornhill, was convicted of the sex offences against two schoolgirls but was cleared by top judges – after it emerged that one of his alleged victims told blatant lies.
Mr Simpson, of Parker Road, steadfastly protested his innocence in the years since his convictions and twice unsuccessfully challenged the jury’s verdicts in the Appeal Court.
In his last appeal, back in April 2001, his lawyers claimed his trial was unfair because evidence suggested that two female jurors had said they would go along with the verdicts – so they could finish their Christmas shopping.
On that occasion, Lord Justice Dyson ruled Mr Simpson’s convictions safe after observing that some jurors were always keener than others.
Mr Simpson continued to live with the stigma of his convictions until one of his alleged victims went to the police in 2008 and told them he had “never committed any offences against her.”
The woman, now in her 20s, had originally complained she was abused by Mr Simpson in the late 1990s, Lady Justice Rafferty told London’s Appeal Court, but her 2008 confession fatally undermined her earlier accusations.
She told police another adult had sewn the idea in her mind, prompting her to make the damning allegations against Mr Simpson.
“Once she started, she found it impossible to back out of the allegations which she repeated on video tape and when she gave evidence to the jury,” said the judge.
“At the time she was fully aware that what she was saying was a lie,” added the judge.
Mr Simpson’s case was taken up by the Criminal Cases Review Commission – the watchdog body which looks into suspected miscarriages of justice – and referred back to the Appeal Court.
His case reached court as his lawyers urged Lady Justice Rafferty to quash his convictions on the strength of the dramatic ‘retraction’.
The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Globe and Mr Justice Leggat, said Mr Simpson’s convictions in relation to the girl who lied must ‘inevitably’ by quashed.
And she went on to overturn the guilty verdicts in relation to the other alleged victim as well because the jury had been told they could treat both girls’ evidence as “mutually supportive”.
“We will quash the convictions,” she concluded.
Mr Simpson left court without commenting.