Murderer of St Albans man loses court appeal

Murray Thompson

Murray Thompson - Credit: Archant

The murderer of St Albans man Murray Thompson, whose body has never been found, failed in a Court of Appeal bid to clear his name last week.

James Evans, 25, was charged after 34-year-old Murray Thompson’s blood was found all over a Watford flat used as a cannabis factory.

Evans, of Bushey Mill Lane, denied murder but was convicted and jailed for life at St Albans Crown Court in September last year.

On Friday three senior judges rejected his appeal against the conviction, condemning him to at least 21 years behind bars.

The court heard that Murray’s body has never been found but traces of his blood were found at the flat.

It had pooled at the bottom of stairs in a way experts said suggested a seriously injured body had lain there for some time. But most of the blood was gone before investigators moved in, leaving only traces.

Appeal judge, Lord Justice Pitchford, said: “It was plain that a concerted effort had been made to wash away blood staining in the flat. In the bathroom, the effect had been to wash blood into the grouting between the bathroom tiles.”

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Lawyers for Evans argued that, without a body, all of the evidence against him was circumstantial.

But the trial judge had summed up that evidence in a way which might have led the jury to think he was listing the facts, they claimed.

Lord Justice Pitchford, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies and Judge Peter Collier rejected the argument and dismissed the appeal.

Lord Justice Pitchford said: “We reject the assertion that the jury could have been under the apprehension at the commencement of the judge’s summing up that they were somehow dealing with facts, rather than evidence.

“The judge could hardly have made it clearer that he was going to remind them of some 80 pieces of evidence, which they had to assess both individually and, if they thought right, in combination with other pieces of evidence.

“We don’t think it is reasonably arguable that the verdicts of the jury were unsafe.”

Evans was also convicted of conspiring to supply cannabis and two counts of perverting the course of justice.