Timothy Evans – a pardoned murderer

A great many comments have been made on Twitter and elsewhere following yesterday’s third and final episode of the BBC’s 2016 drama, ‘Rillington Place’. The closing credits contained a caption indicating that Timothy John Evans, although pardoned, remains a convicted murderer.

A royal pardon was granted in October 1966, largely based upon the outcome of the public Inquiry held under Mr Justice Brabin which reported that year, but his conviction for murder was never quashed and so still stands. The end of the legal road in that regard came in 2004 when the Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed its earlier decision not to refer the case to the Court of Appeal as there would, in their view, be no practical benefit to be gained from the time and expense of such proceedings as the pardon had already served effectively to exonerate the convicted person and restore his reputation in the public perception despite not expunging the conviction itself. This stems from the principle that respects the constitutional distinction between the roles of the monarch and the court.

Timothy Evans thus retains the dubious privilege of being one of only two executed criminals ever to be pardoned in England and Wales – and the only one to have had his conviction remain unquashed.

2 thoughts on “Timothy Evans – a pardoned murderer

  1. I purchased your very informative book this morning and have been reading it with great interest. It is a dispassionate analysis of the case with regard to detail of the sort for which I have been waiting for a long time.

    There are a couple of brief references to Evans having acquired a criminal record in 1946 for theft among other matters. Can you explain why Mr Morris in his summing-up at Evans’ trial was nevertheless able to describe his client (in contrast to Christie with his various convictions) as a man of good character? Surely this was a misleading claim which the barrister would have been prohibited from making.

    • Hello John,

      Thank you for your kind comments and I am glad that the book has proved of some interest and value.

      The point you raise is an interesting one – as you will have gathered, Morris was rather wrong-footed by the unexpected brevity of the closing speech by Mr Humphreys and so had to proceed without having had the time to prepare more fully. This being the case, Morris’s speech for the Defence reads, with the greatest of respect, as something of a ramble in which, on this specific point, he first says that the Prosecution may not have known about Christie’s past convictions but then shortly afterwards says he has no doubt that they could not have known about it. He then uses the tactic of suggesting that the witness is therefore not of good character whereas, in contrast, the man in the dock is – perhaps as a form of role-reversal device to try and capture the attention of the jury and just give them pause for thought in what was otherwise a pretty one-sided fight. It may be that, with the limited resources available to him, Morris had researched Christie’s history but not Evans’s and so was not aware of the latter’s convictions and neither was anyone else present, aside from Evans himself, to raise an objection – and thus the comment was made in ignorance and went unremarked.

      I also have the idea that, in those days at least, there were different rules about what could be said in court, prior to the verdict being reached, about the antecedents of the defendant vis-à-vis a witness but would need to do further homework to be more certain on the point.

      I hope this is of some small assistance.

      John

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