Drug driver who killed his girlfriend in crash launches forensics appeal
A man jailed for killing his girlfriend in a car crash while high on drugs is challenging the conviction over concerns about forensic evidence.
Anderson Ward, 39, from Newtown, was jailed earlier this year for causing the death of Marie Hardes, 56.
He lost control of the vehicle when travelling on the M3 in Winchester in November 2014.
He was sentenced to six years in prison in February after being found guilty of causing death by driving without due care while unfit through drugs, causing death by driving a vehicle unlicensed, and possession of class B and C drugs.
Ward is attempting to launch proceedings at the Court of Appeal after it emerged two scientists allegedly tampered with data at a forensics lab.
A hit-and-run driver, Matthew Bravender, 38, is also appealing a five-year sentence for mowing down a pedestrian in Salford, on the same basis.
The revelations about the forensic testing site operated by Randox sparked a major review of more than 10,000 criminal investigations, so far leading to around 50 prosecutions being dropped.
More appeals stemming from the unprecedented breach of forensic standards could soon follow as thousands of toxicology tests are re-analysed.
Three-quarters of the cases affected were traffic offences such as drug driving – with the rest including violent crime, sexual offences and unexplained deaths, spanning back to 2013.
Two men have been arrested and five interviewed under caution by Greater Manchester Police over the alleged manipulation by individuals working at the Randox Testing Services (RTS) site in Manchester.
Retests have so far found no impact on cases of sexual offences, violence or murder, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said.
Potential data manipulation at Trimega Laboratories is also being investigated by Greater Manchester Police - affecting child protection and family court cases, the NPCC said.
It is understood the two suspects arrested in connection with the concerns also worked for Trimega.
Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan, the NPCC forensic expert, said: “This is of grave concern to me, it is of great concern to policing and our partners in criminal justice and we are taking it extremely seriously and provided a nationally co-ordinated and very swift, robust response, to understand more detail.”
The NPCC revealed that retesting was either complete or under way for around 70 per cent of the 900 highest priority cases,with the rest expected to be completed by mid-2018.
These include live investigations approaching or in trial, those convicted but not sentenced, those bailed in advance of trial or sentence and convictions where the defendant is in prison.
Although no murder and rape cases have yet to be affected, some could be in a lower priority band for testing which have yet to be re-analysed.
Such cases would include finalised court cases which ended in acquittals or police investigations which had no further action.
A total of 275 murders and around 900 rapes are being re-appraised.
It is expected the full retesting process will take two to three years to conclude, with 1,500 samples retested by the end of the year.
The alleged misconduct emerged earlier this year when a data anomaly in a drug driving case was reported to RTS.
Toxicology tests are carried out to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in someone’s hair, blood or urine and can be relied on as evidence in court.