A man convicted of a murder in Motueka more than two decades ago has managed to have the verdict overturned.
Kevin Williams was found guilty of the murdering of 26-year-old Clinton Strong on New Year’s Day in 1995 during a street fight.
Today, his conviction and life sentence were overturned in favour of a verdict of manslaughter and eight years’ jail.
Williams’ appeal at the time of his conviction was dismissed by a truncated process that has since been ruled “a fundamentally flawed and unlawful system” by the Privy Council.
In 2015, he went back the Court of Appeal and was granted another shot.
Now the court has ruled the trial against Williams was prejudiced because his criminal conviction had been revealed in a video interview played to the jury, calling it a “a miscarriage of justice”.
“At the time of his interview he was only 23 years old. While we accept the submission that Mr Williams’ credibility was not in issue in the trial, this evidence was prejudicial … because it could cause the jury to think that Mr Williams was a hardened criminal,” the court said its decision.
“We are satisfied that the admission of the evidence of Mr Williams’ previous prison sentences carried with it the implication of previous serious offending.”
Williams had previously been in prison four times and served at least four years in jail.
Williams’ lawyers said he had always been prepared to plead guilty to manslaughter.
Comment was not available from his appeal lawyer. NZN