The Extraordinary Trial of Clive Freeman: Doubts Emerge Over Conviction in 1988 ‘Burking’ Murder of Vagrant Alexander Hardie

The Extraordinary Trial of Clive Freeman: Doubts Emerge Over Conviction in 1988 ‘Burking’ Murder of Vagrant Alexander Hardie

Clive Freeman, scion of one of Salisbury’s wealthiest families, faced one of the most remarkable trials in Old Bailey history.

Accused of the 1988 murder of vagrant Alexander ‘Sandy’ Hardie using the ‘Burking’ method, Freeman’s conviction raised questions that persist over 36 years later.

Allegations of ‘Burking’ Murder and Motive

Freeman, a former soldier connected to the Grey’s Scouts, was accused of suffocating Hardie in a London flat to fake his own death and claim a substantial insurance policy.

The Crown’s case, though circumstantial, hinged on the ‘Burking’ technique learned during Freeman’s military service.

Pathologist Dr. Richard Shepherd’s Crucial Role

Dr. Shepherd’s findings supported the prosecution, claiming Freeman’s motive was financial gain. Freeman’s attempt to destroy Hardie’s body in a fire failed, leading to identification through fingerprints.

In 1989, Freeman received a life sentence for murder and an additional term for arson.

Life Sentence and Lengthy Incarceration

Initially recommended to serve 13 years before parole consideration, Freeman could have been released in 2001.

However, he remains incarcerated, serving close to 36 years, as he steadfastly denies his guilt.

Supporters, including human rights advocates and former law enforcement, argue he is a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Concerns Raised by Daily Mail Investigation

A three-month Daily Mail investigation reveals troubling questions about Freeman’s conviction. Reviewing case papers, witness testimonies, and forensic reports, the investigation suggests the possibility of a “murder that never was.”

The findings intensify pressure on the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to reassess Freeman’s case.

Battle of Pathologists and Forensic Experts

The trial’s reliance on Dr. Shepherd’s ‘Burking’ theory faces challenges from eight forensic experts, including Professor Mant and Professor Crane.

Their reports dispute the cause of death and raise doubts about the credibility of Dr. Shepherd’s conclusions.

The controversy surrounding the pathologists adds complexity to the case.

Witness Testimony and U-turns

Crucial witness David Taylor, who initially placed Freeman at the scene, later withdrew his account, citing a “genuine mistake.” However, in a recent U-turn, he reinstated Freeman’s guilt. Freeman’s alibi, supported by a hotel receptionist and a nightclub doorman, faces scrutiny regarding his movements and intoxication.

Insurance Scam Allegations and Motive

The prosecution’s theory of an insurance scam orchestrated by Freeman is challenged.

Freeman’s supporters argue his actions were influenced by PTSD, and evidence indicates he planned to travel to Australia before Hardie’s death. Questions arise about the credibility of the insurance fraud motive.

Fire in the Flat and Allegations of Deliberate Ignition

The circumstances surrounding the fire in the Rotherhithe flat are questioned. Freeman’s lack of smoking habit and Hardie’s status as a smoker raise doubts about the fire’s origin.

Inconclusive evidence and conflicting reports contribute to uncertainties regarding the fire’s cause.

Non-disclosure of Crucial Documents and Evidential Material

Allegations of non-disclosure by the Crown regarding key documents, including Dr. Shepherd’s original post-mortem notes, emerge.

Detailed analysis exposes potential lapses in evidence presentation during Freeman’s trial, contributing to concerns about the fairness and integrity of the legal proceedings.

Daily Mail’s Extensive Inquiry and the Urgency for CCRC Action

The Mail’s thorough investigation casts serious doubt on the safety of Freeman’s convictions. As the CCRC faces scrutiny after recent controversies, there is a growing call for an expedited review of Freeman’s case.

At 80 and battling prostate cancer, Freeman seeks one last effort to clear his name in what could be a landmark miscarriage of justice.

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