Corrupt cop gets five years
Gary Fitzpatrick • Published 27 Jul 2012 12:00
FORMER Dunfermline detective chief Richard Munro has been jailed for five years for a "shocking affront" to justice by withholding key evidence in a murder case.
The disgraced cop was in charge of the investigation into the death of Andrew Forsyth in his Milton Green home in 1995.
Two men, Steven Johnston and Billy Allison, served 10 years in prison for the murder before their conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal after hidden witness statements came to light.
The Crown Office has now ordered the Forsyth case to be looked at again. A spokesman for the Crown Office said, "Now that the Munro trial has concluded the Crown has instructed a review of the evidence relating to the death in the light of the appeal, the Carnegie Inquiry and the trial of Richard Munro."
Last month Munro (53) was found guilty of intent to defeat the ends of justice after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh. He was jailed for five years at the High Court in Aberdeen yesterday (Wednesday).
Passing sentence, judge Lord Doherty told Munro, "The course of conduct you engaged in was a shocking affront to the principles which underlie the criminal justice process.
"Your offence was committed in a variety of ways over a considerable period. It was calculated and deceitful.
"You contributed substantially to the convictions of Johnston and Allison being miscarriages of justice."
He added, "You were in a position of trust. The criminal justice system depends upon police officers acting with honesty and integrity.
"In acting as you did you let yourself down, your police colleagues, the procurator fiscal, other representatives of the Crown, Mr Johnston and Mr Allison and their legal representatives and the court."
A key issue was the time of death, with Munro suppressing statements which conflicted with his version of events that Mr Forsyth died on 3rd November.
The body was not found until 9th November and witnesses had seen the victim after 3rd November.
After the two men were convicted, defence solicitors asked Fife Constabulary about the missing evidence but Munro continued to deny that the statements existed.
Senior police questioned Munro and he claimed that not all of the information from door-to-door enquiries had been retained. He also discredited information given by the witnesses in question as unreliable.
As a detective inspector, Munro led the investigation into the death of Mr Forsyth after his body was discovered in the living room of his home.
The officer had just been promoted and had been put in charge of his first murder hunt. Having made up his own mind about the case, he rejected information from witnesses that went against his own belief.
Officers were instructed not to make further enquiries of witnesses who claimed to have seen the murder victim alive in the days after 3rd November.
One GP even provided a statement to a detective that told of how he had spoken to Mr Forsyth on the day he was claimed to have died.
Munro deleted or ordered someone to delete the doctor's claim that Mr Forsyth had spoken of his concerns about two people from Glasgow shooting him.
The Miscarriage of Justice Organisation (MOJO) has called for a public inquiry into the whole case.
MOJO spokesman Paul McLaughlin said after the sentencing, "The core of this is that Richard Munro's gone to prison but that hasn't brought justice to Drew Forsyth's mother, it didn't bring justice to Drew and it doesn't bring justice to Billy Allison or Stevie Johnston.
"The fact that they've spent that time in prison can't be wiped away whatever happens now but serious questions have to be asked because Richard Munro in our opinion wasn't the only one responsible here.
"We feel that this is a historic outcome but it's just one step. How widespread are these practices?
"We know there are miscarriages of justice because we deal with people every day who contact this office in desperation with similar circumstances in their cases. How is that going to be looked at and redressed?
"Within five years the Crown and the police were made aware Stevie Johnston and Billy Allison were innocent because the statements were there but there was no attempt to quash their conviction at that point.
We feel there should have been a re-trial much earlier and they wouldn't have to have served another five years in prison.
"It was more important to uphold the police position, the Crown position than to get at the root of a miscarriage and that seems to be the problem in all these cases even when there's clear evidence.
Nobody wants to get their hands dirty within the establishment. People are held up as a sacrifice to the justice system."
At the start of trial, Steven Johnston (48), of Oakley, spoke to the Press about the problems he has faced coping with life since his release.
He said, "I thought by now I would have moved on with my life but I've not been able to.
"Everywhere I go people want to talk about the same thing. They're not being nasty or anything like that but it's always the same thing they ask about.
"I'd like to move somewhere else and make a new start."