Campaigners battling for the release of Hoxton man Sam Hallam are said to be delighted that the Criminal Cases Review Commission has decided to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.
The decision comes after a three and a half year investigation by the Commission and a major inquiry by Thames Valley Police into Hallam’s conviction for the 2004 murder of Essayas Kassahun.
Sam Hallam’s mother Wendy Cohen said:”After seven years of injustice, there’s at last some hope for my innocent son. We’ve still got some way to go before the nightmare ends but I’m certain when the Court of Appeal looks at the new evidence that Sam will be released. Although we’re unhappy about how long the inquiry took, I’d like to thank the Commission and Thames Valley Police for the painstaking and thorough manner in which they investigated Sam’s case.
Campaigner Paul May, who represented Sam Hallam in his application to the CCRC, said: “The Commission’s decision is a major milestone in the campaign to win justice for this innocent young man. Sam was just 17 when he was arrested for a murder he knew nothing about. On 9 July, he was 24 years old. This must be the last birthday he spends in prison as an innocent man.”
On October 24, 2005, Sam Hallam was found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey and sentenced to life imprisonment, serving a minimum of 12 years, for the murder of Ethiopian chef Essayas Kassahun, who was killed in a brawl involving a gang of numerous teenagers and young men outside the Somerfield supermarket in Old Street.
However, the only evidence suggesting Hallam committed the murder were a series of inconsistent and contradictory statements placing him at the crime scene. Hallam was nevertheless sentenced on these testimonies.
In the years following Hallam’s incarceration, a new evidence has come to light, including statements from a number of witnesses who were present when Kassahun was killed, confirming Hallam’s original statement that he was not in the area that evening.
Sam Hallam’s family, friends and supporters continue to protest his innocence.