Jane Longhurst dies during consensual Breath Control Play (BCP).
14/03/03 – 19/04/03
Graham Coutts hides the body and covers it up for 5 weeks, before disposing of it.
Graham was arrested, interviewed and released on police bail.
Graham was re-arrested and charged with murder.
12/01/04 – 04/02/04
Graham’s first trial was held at Lewes Crown Court. Deliberations were over 3 days. As there was not a unanimous decision, the Judge directed the jury to return a majority verdict if they could not all agree. A few minutes later the jury returned a unanimous verdict. Graham was sentenced to life, with a 30 year tariff.
At the Court of Appeal the tariff was reduced to 26 years, but the appeal against conviction was rejected. However, leave was given for the appeal to be heard at the House of Lords.
At the House of Lords all 5 Law Lords unanimously agreed to allow the appeal, and to refer it back to the Court of Appeal to quash Graham’s conviction. The appeal point was that: “The Judge wrongly failed to direct the jury that it was open to them to return an alternative verdict of manslaughter.”
Lord Bingham: “ (….) failure to do so (….) a material irregularity (….) ”
Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead: “ (….) I too would allow this appeal .”
Lord Hutton: “ (….) I would allow this appeal (….) “
Lords Rodger of Earlsferry: “ (….) the verdict is unsafe (….) “
Lord Mance: “ (….) the present verdict (….) cannot be regarded as safe (….)”
The Court of Appeal squash Graham’s conviction and order a retrial.
11/06/07 – 05/07/07
Graham’s retrial was held at the Old Bailey.Jury deliberations totalled 13 hours and 1 minute over 3 days. The verdict was a majority of 11-1 in favour of guilty. Graham was sentenced to life, with a minimum term of 26 years, less the 1585 days he had by that time already spent in custody.
Graham’s legal team submits an appeal against convictions.
However, this paperwork disappears between courts.
Graham discovers that his appeal paperwork has been lost, and this has to be resubmitted.
/02/12 CCRC application submitted
23/05/12 CCRC Commissioner allocating application to Case Review Manager
8th February 2013: ‘The Commission (CCRC) has considered your application for a review of your conviction and has reached a provisional view that it should not be referred for a fresh appeal.’
Graham’s solicitor,Mark Newby of Jordans, sought confirmation as to whether the Commission would be prepared to allow a further substantial period to review but they were not minded to do so.
At this stage we cannot disclose what the grounds of appeal were, as there are still areas yet to be investigated. The CCRC only did a paperwork review and chose not to use their powers of investigation. Whilst this is a disappointing setback for Graham, a second application will be made to the CCRC in the (hopefully) not too distant future.