Devon murder case to go to appeal court

The case of the murder of a gay pensioner in Devon more than 16 years ago has been referred to the Court of Appeal as a possible miscarriage of justice.

Robert Kennedy was sentenced to life imprisonment at Plymouth Crown Court in 1991 for the murder of Arthur Eathorne.

Mr Eathorne, 74, was found battered to death in his flat in Plymouth in September 1990. He suffered fatal head injuries after being hit with a blunt instrument.

According to reports, the pensioner was well known in the gay community and allegedly had a number of young men who visited his flat for sex.

Advances in DNA technology have since revealed that DNA evidence found at Mr Eathorne's flat do not match Kennedy's profile.

Kennedy, now 42, has always denied committing the murder. He had an appeal against his conviction dismissed in March 1995 and he applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in December 2000.

The Commission's review included a two-year section 19 inquiry by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, directed by the Commission. The force's final report was submitted to the Commission in January 2006.

A statement released by the Commission on Thursday said: "Having considered a range of issues, including new DNA profiles on two cigarette butts at the scene which were found not to match Mr Kennedy's profile, new information about the probable time of Mr Eathorne's death and issues of disclosure, the Commission has decided to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal."


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