On this day, 17 March 2004, Thomas “TC” Campbell’s and Joe Steele’s convictions were quashed by the Appeal court, their ordeal by this point having lasted 20 years.
TC and Joe were wrongfully convicted of the murder of several members of the same family, attributed to Glasgow’s notorious “Ice Cream Wars”
All at MOJO were saddened by the passing of Thomas “TC” Campbell on 24 June 2019.
1984: Campbell and Steele are convicted at the High Court.
1989: Their first appeal is refused.
1992: A Crown Witness states that he lied under oath.
1993: Steele escapes from prison and stages a protest by supergluing himself to the railings outside Buckingham Palace.
1993: Steele stages a rooftop protest at his mother’s house whilst on leave from prison.
1997: Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Forsyth grants interim freedom to Campbell and Steele, pending a second appeal.
February 1998: Campbell and Steele return to prison when three Appeal Court judges reach a split decision.
December 1998: Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar rejects a petition to refer the case to the Appeal Court again.
November 2001: The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission refers the case to the Appeal Court for the third time.
December 2001: Campbell and Steele are again freed by Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, pending the outcome of the appeal.
March 2004: Campbell’s and Steele’s convictions are quashed by the Appeal Court
Today we post the following article, from The Guardian, 18 March 2004:
Falsely held for 20 years, ice cream war pair free at last
Men convicted of starting fire which killed six members of one family win release in Scottish appeal court after police credibility is attacked.
Two men who spent almost 20 years in prison for Glasgow’s notorious ice cream war murders had their convictions quashed yesterday, after Scotland’s worst miscarriage of justice.
Thomas Campbell and Joe Steele fought for 20 years to prove their innocence after being convicted of starting a fire that killed six members of one family, including an 18-month-old baby, in 1984. The murders were blamed on a turf war for control of the lucrative ice cream van business and drug trade in Glasgow’s east end.
At the court of appeal in Edinburgh, Scotland’s most senior judge, the lord justice clerk, Lord Gill, said the men had suffered a miscarriage of justice at their original trial in 1984 and new evidence attacking the credibility of crucial police testimony could not allow the convictions to stand.
It was the men’s third attempt to clear their names.
As the public gallery erupted in cheers, both men stood impassively in the dock. “It’s over, it’s over,” shouted one man as friends and supporters spilled into the corridors, many in tears.
It was a subdued Mr Campbell, however, who emerged from court to face a battery of cameras. “There’s no jubilation, there’s no happiness here because there’s only losers in this case,” the 51-year-old man said. “The Doyle family have lost a family. We have lost our lives in prison and for 20 years justice has been lost.”
Mr Steele, 42, said: “I am just glad to get it over with. I am just happy I am going home. It has been a hard fight, but that is it now.”
Lawyers for the men will now seek compensation for their ordeal and are considering legal action against Strathclyde police for their handling of the case. There have also been calls for public inquiry.
“The term used to describe this case will be ‘a miscarriage of justice’, but it was more than that,” said Aamer Anwar, Mr Campbell’s solicitor. “It was a malicious prosecution by Strathclyde police.
“At the heart of the case was allegations of police corruption – officers of the law who conspired for nearly 20 years to keep these men behind bars.”
The killings shocked Scotland. Much of the ice cream van trade in Glasgow in the 1980s was considered a front for the sale of drugs and stolen goods. Routes were jealously guarded.
When 18-year-old Andrew Doyle, who acted as a minder for one ice cream operation, refused to bow to intimidation to give up his route, he and his family were targeted.
In February 1984, shots were fired through the windscreen of his vehicle. Then, six weeks later, someone entered the stairwell near his family’s top floor flat in Ruchazie, soaked some bed linen in petrol and set it alight. Of the nine people sleeping inside, only three escaped.
Mr Campbell and Mr Steele were arrested and charged with murder. After a 27-day trial they were convicted and jailed for life.
The case against them centred on statements they were alleged to have given to the police. Mr Steele was alleged to have told four detectives in a police car, “I’m not the one that lit the match.” Mr Campbell was said to have told police, “I only wanted the van windows shot up. The fire was only meant to be a frightener which went too far.”
But evidence from a leading psychologist in the latest appeal cast doubt on the police testimony. Professor Brian Clifford, 58, of the University of East London, told the court there was serious doubt surrounding the possibility that the four police officers who detained Mr Campbell would have identical recall of his statement. His findings were similar in Mr Steele’s case.
Mr Campbell and Mr Steele always protested their innocence, using hunger strikes and prison escapes to draw attention to their case. During one breakout, Mr Steele reached London and glued himself to the gates of Buckingham Palace.
The pair lost their first appeal in 1985. In August 1996, they were granted the right to appeal again by the then Scottish secretary, Michael Forsyth, and were given bail. But appeal judges ruled in February 1998 that their case did not meet the guidelines for hearing new evidence, and they were reimprisoned.
In 1999 the Scottish criminal cases review commission was set up to look at potential miscarriages of justice, and in 2001 it referred the case back to the court of appeal.
Yesterday spokesmen for Strathclyde police and the Scottish executive said they would consider the judgment before making any further comment.
Mr Campbell said he just wanted an end to a “living nightmare”.
“There is no compensation for a tragedy of this magnitude,” he said. “There is no compensation for society robbed of justice for over 20 years.
“Nothing can redress the wrong that has been done in my eyes … All I want is peace. I want to move away, settle down with my family and get on with my life.”
The original article can be found HERE.