William 'Wullie' Beck to Scottish CCRC After Thirty-Year Fight
William Beck was 20 when he was arrested for an armed robbery of a post van in Livingston, Scotland on 16 December 1981. He served six years of imprisonment for his conviction, which was based exclusively on eyewitness identification.
Although Mr Beck claims that he was in Glasgow the entire day at the time of the robbery, some 40 miles away from where the crime occurred, he was convicted on the positive identification of two eyewitnesses despite other witnesses not identifying Mr Beck in an identity parade.
For more than three decades, Mr Beck has steadfastly protested his innocence, claiming that he is a victim of eyewitness misidentification. By the time he sought the assistance of the UoBIP, Mr Beck has made two previous unsuccessful applications to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and numerous complaints about how the police conducted the identification parade and the conduct of his legal representatives at trial.
The UoBIP took on Mr Beck's case in 2011 following the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's provisional Statement of Reasons stating that it was not minded to refer his conviction to the High Court of Justiciary.
Under the guidance of Dr Michael Naughton, postgraduate law students Mark Allum and Ryan Jendoubi at the University of Bristol Law School undertook detailed research into Mr Beck's case and made two submissions to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. They contended that a combination of factors rendered a real likelihood of a miscarriage of justice in Mr Beck's case. In addition to the 'flimsy nature' of the eyewitness identification evidence that underpinned his conviction, they argued that the judge had made several serious errors in the way in which he had directed the jury.
In an interview with Good Morning Scotland, Dr Naughton said: "This is a significant moment for Mr Beck. There has been 1,500 cases applied to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and only about 100 cases have ever been referred. They have agreed with us that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in Mr Beck's case and we are delighted that they have referred his case."
In a public statement posted on a justice forum website, Mr Beck expressed his gratitude to both the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and the UoBIP, stating that "he had 'no doubt whatsoever' that it was the UoBIP that convinced the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer his case".