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Pair to appeal against convictions

PUBLISHED: 10:31 12 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:17 03 July 2010

A man and woman jailed for the killing of an elderly man, who had his walking stick rammed down his throat, have won the right to challenge their convictions.

A man and woman jailed for the killing of an elderly man, who had his walking stick rammed down his throat, have won the right to challenge their convictions.

Paul Slack and Kathleen Ann Johnson were respectively convicted of murder and manslaughter at Norwich Crown Court in August last year over the death of Alan Bowles, 64, at his home in Yarmouth Way, Great Yarmouth, in May 2007.

Slack received a life-term and Johnson was jailed for three years.

The prosecution claimed Mr Bowles, part of a hard-drinking group in Yarmouth, including Johnson and Slack, was killed when Slack rammed his walking stick down his throat following an explosive row.

Johnson denied involvement in the attack, but was convicted on the basis of “joint enterprise”.

Lord Justice Rix, who gave both Slack and Johnson permission to appeal their convictions, said it was “common ground” that Slack had “wielded” the walking stick at one point.

But he added that Slack claimed he had only picked up the stick to intimidate Mr Bowles, and never attacked him with it.

The judge, sitting at London's Appeal Court with Mr Justice McCombe and Mr Justice Burnett, ruled that both Johnson and Slack have arguable grounds of appeal which deserve a full hearing.

Johnson's legal team argue the prosecution case against her was “weak” and that the jury should never have been allowed to hear evidence of her previous convictions.

Slack's lawyers say he had “no case to answer” and that the trial judge should have discharged the jurors before they returned their verdicts.

No date was fixed for the full hearing of the appeals.


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