|Kevin was convicted of the murder of Robert Magill in 1966
Kevin Lane website
Kevin Lane believes he was set up for murder by a bent detective and a criminal
Direct application to the appeal court following revelation of new documents - CPS asked to confirm authenticity
Did police pervert the course of justice?
Click here to read more in The Observer article by Jamie Doward 8 October 2011
View new video from the Guardian website 6 May 2009
Ex-detective backs miscarriage of justice claim • File seized by police 'could cast new light on murder' • Key inspector jailed for £160,000 theft plot, by Duncan Campbell
Alleged hitman puts faith in fresh evidence and strange twist in contract killing case, by Duncan Campbell
New submissions in the case of KEVIN LANE have been presented to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC)
Kevin Lane was convicted of the murder of Robert Magill in October 1994 after a retrial. He has always protested his innocence.
The murder of Magill was said to be a contract killing, without any discernible motive.
Fresh evidence, and new arguments, concerning a number of issues at the heart of the case have been submitted to the CCRC.
The representations include material relating to a corrupt police officer.
Maslen Merchant together with Joel Bennathan QC and Peter Wilcock have been working on the case for nearly four years. Between them, they have spent hundreds of hours sifting through thousands of documents from the police investigation and Kevin’s two trials.
Kevin Lane said: -
“Because of the nature of the offence, I have been subjected to the most extreme conditions that exist within the Prison Service. It is only the support of my family and friends that has helped me to survive and to get through each day.
I feel that the time is now very near when I will prove that I am innocent and when that day comes, people will have to be held accountable for what they have done”.
Maslen Merchant said: -
“Kevin’s case is a classic miscarriage of justice. The case is riddled with instances of non-disclosure of relevant evidence by the prosecution. We now know that the man in charge of disclosure is, by his own admission, nothing more that a criminal.
We know that the material exists within police files that demonstrates that Kevin is innocent of this murder and that he was wrongly convicted as a result of police corruption."
On 21 st March 1996 at the Central Criminal Court Kevin was convicted of the murder of Robert Magill, following a retrial. The offence took place on the morning of 13 th October 1994 at Chorley Wood in Hertfordshire.
Mr. Magill was said to have led a criminal lifestyle and the prosecution put its case on the basis that this was a contract killing.
Mr. Magill was shot repeatedly with a shotgun, including a final shot to the head while he was lying injured on the floor. Witnesses saw two men carry out the “execution” style murder.
Central to the prosecution case was the recovery of Kevin’s palm print on a plastic bin liner in which the murder weapon was said to have been carried. That bin liner was found inside the boot of a car which was used by the two men who killed Robert Magill and to which Kevin had previously had access.
Another article found in the boot of the vehicle was tested and found to have traces of nitro-glycerine on it.
Kevin accepted that he had borrowed the car about a week before the murder and used it for a few days. The defence expert instructed by his original solicitors gave the opinion that there was, in fact, an innocent explanation for the apparent presence of nitro-glycerine, which could come from an industrial nail gun.
The remainder of the prosecution case against Kevin was circumstantial.
We say, therefore, that there is a reasonable explanation for all of the prosecution evidence and it must be the case that Kevin was simply not believed when he gave his evidence.
Since his conviction, Kevin has previously applied to the CCRC twice, each time asking for a referral to the Court of Appeal. The CCRC rejected his application on both occasions.
Since his trial, there have been a number of highly significant developments.
The representations submitted to the CCRC concentrate on two issues.
For further information :
Maslen Merchant, Hadgkiss Hughes and Beale Solicitors
Office – 0121-449 5050
Kevin’s website is www.justiceforkevinlane.com
Kevin is supported by:
Article published in Private Eye 12 April 2007
When detective inspector Chris Spackman, was jailed in 2003 for what a judge described as a ‘disgusting catalogue of crime and lies,’ the case of Kevin Lane, jailed for a murder, was one of 22 involving the bent copper - which were scrutinised by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
It was the second time that lawyers had submitted a dossier to the justice watchdogs on behalf of Lane, who has always protested his innocence of the 1994 murder of businessman, Robert Magill. He was shot at close range in the head while he walked his dog near his Hertfordshire home in 1994 in what was described as a professional hit. Witnesses saw two killers.
The first application to the CCRC went nowhere. Lane was alleging that the investigating officer in his case had fabricated evidence to help incriminate him and withheld other material that might point to the real perpetrators of the crime.
He claimed among other things that the police officer had given evidence about following Lane's car, when there was proof that his car was off the road; that the officer had threatened to persuade another officer to change her story about seeing someone other than Lane driving the getaway car, two days before the murder; and that his diary had been altered.
Lane's lawyers didn't really expect it to get very far. After all Lane was raised among the criminal underworld and had a history of using his fists. A former middleweight boxer, he was known among other things as 'lights out'. He had served one 14 month jail sentence for violence .
The officer he named - Chris Spackman - had, at that time, an exemplary record.
When Spackman was jailed at the Old Bailey for conspiring with others to steal £160,000 from Hertfordshire police - money the married father of three had paid into a lover's account - Lane thought his claims may be taken more seriously. The prosecutor at Spackman's trial had said of the officer: 'The lengths he went to, the lies he told and the documents that were forged would have been worthy of a seasoned fraudster.'
But again the CCRC refused to order a full inquiry into Lane's conviction. No doubt, the fact that police had briefed the tabloids after Lane's conviction that he was a hired gun responsible for such killings as that of Charlie Wilson, the great train robber in Spain in 1990 and Karen Reed shot outside her home in 1994 - murders with which he was never charged and to which no evidence links him. When newscaster Jill Dando was shot, it was also reported that he had been questioned by police. Not true.
Not only did he suddenly have a murder conviction against his name, he had become a serial hitman.
But the evidence against Lane for the killing of Magill has always been thin. He was only convicted by a majority verdict, and only then on a retrial after the first jury could not reach a verdict
He was not picked out on an identity parade by the two eye witnesses. However, his children’s hand prints and one of his fingerprints was in the murder get-away car; a car he freely admitting borrowing, and which was returned to the owner three days before it was stolen and used by the killers.
But in the days after Magill's murder, police received a several tips offs naming two menreferred to here as X and Y who were also linked to the car. They provided alibis for each other and Y never stood trial. The other, X, stood trial briefly alongside Lane, but was acquitted on the direction of judge.
Lane maintained that Spackman did some kind of deal with X to exonerate X, while incriminating Lane. Spackman had curiously told X's mother ahead of the trial that her son would be returning home, but that Lane would go down. Y had also visited X when he was on remand, but had not – as he should have done – properly recorded the visits.
But once again the CCRC rejected his application.
But in 2003 in what was said to be a criminal underworld revenge killing, David King was gunned down as he left his gym in Hoddeson, Herts. In February this year, two men lost their appeal against conviction for the hit. They were X and Y.
Kevin Lanes lawyer, Maslen Merchant, is now about to submit a third dossier to the CCRC outlining the many similarities between the two professional killing. And he is seeking access to key police interviews with both X and Y, at the time that Lane was convicted. ‘Lane may have been many things in his criminal past, but he was not a hitman,’ Merchant said. ‘This is a grave miscarriage of justice involving a corrupt police officer and flimsy evidence. Sooner or later the Criminal Cases Review Commission will have to take note of the developments that have taken place since trial’.
28 July 2003
Jailing of corrupt detective raises doubts about 22 cases
By Steven Morris
The case of a man jailed for the murder of a businessman is under review after a senior detective involved in the inquiry was convicted of stealing from his police force, it emerged yesterday.
Kevin Lane, who has always denied murdering businessman Robert Magill, 44, is hoping that the jailing earlier this month of Chris Spackman, who was a detective inspector, will lead to his own acquittal.
His is one of more than 20 cases which Hertfordshire police, the crown prosecution service and the criminal cases review commission (CCRC) are investigating after the conviction of Spackman, who was said in court to have acted like a "seasoned fraudster".
Lane was convicted of shooting Magill as he walked his dog near his home in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, in October 1994. Magill was shot five times, twice in the head, at close range.
The police believed Lane, then 26, was a professional hitman paid up to £100,000 to murder Magill. Despite what prosecutors conceded was flimsy evidence, Lane was convicted during his second trial, the first jury having failed to agree on a verdict.
After the case Lane was dubbed "the executioner" by some newspapers and linked to other killings, including that of Charlie Wilson, the great train robber murdered on the Costa del Sol in 1990. One report claimed he had links with the Russian mafia.
After the murder of the television star, Jill Dando, it was claimed - falsely - that detectives went to him to ask whether her killing was the work of a hitman.
Lane, who is regarded by the Home Office as one of Britain's most dangerous men, has long claimed that Spackman, the officer in charge of his case, was determined to convict him at any cost.
Lane believes his name may have been given to the police by the "real" killer. He says his underworld connections and a criminal record allowed the police to fit a case around him.
In a letter seen by the Guardian and sent to the CCRC last month, Lane described Spackman - an ambitious detective sergeant at the time of the Magill murder - as a "corrupt officer, hell bent on forcing a conviction against me".
He said Spackman had told him in the past that he would "have me one day" and claimed the former policeman suppressed vital details which undermined the prosecution's case. He also alleged Spackman put undue pressure on his co-accused, Roger Vincent, who was acquitted of involvement in the murder.
The CCRC confirmed it was examining the Lane case. It could send the case back to the court of appeal. A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said 22 cases involving Spackman, who had been a policeman for 26 years, were being examined.
Spackman, 46, was jailed at the Old Bailey for plotting to steal £160,000 from Hertfordshire police, money which had been seized from criminals and was supposed to be used to fight crime.
The court was told how the married father-of-three had diverted money into the building society account of a woman he was besotted with.
He took the woman on a shopping spree in Harrods and on holiday in Mauritius, bought her a £18,000 VW Golf and a £7,000 beautician's course and helped set her up in business.
Crispin Aylett, prosecuting, said: "The lengths he went to, the lies he told and the documents that were forged would have been worthy of a seasoned fraudster."
Judge Brian Barker told Spackman, who admitted conspiracy to steal, theft and misconduct in office, that he was responsible for a "disgusting catalogue of crime and lies".
14 February 2001
By Nick Hopkins, Crime Correspondent
Kevin Lane is no angel. As a teenager he was known as Lights Out Lane for his brutal fists. As a nightclub bouncer, he never shirked a fight. But was he really a hitman who killed Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson, and had links to the Russian mob? Nick Hopkins weighs up the evidence
Kevin Lane hasn't had much to be cheerful about over the past seven years, but as we face each other in the cramped, windowless room set aside for visits to high-risk (category double A) inmates, he begins to laugh. The subject is nicknames, the only matter he is prepared to discuss in something more than a whisper.
We are sitting on low chairs around a low table - everything here is bolted to the floor - and we are surrounded by three prison officers. One is within arm's reach. Prisoner BV3290 is, after all, regarded by the Home Office as one of the country's most dangerous men, and security at HMP Frankland in Durham is formidable.
Lane has had several aliases. As a 15-year-old growing up in Harefield, Hertfordshire, it was Lights Out Lane - he was a talented middle-weight boxer who fought for the home counties against the Federal Republic of Germany. Lane raises his left fist, then his right. Both are slightly gnarled. He chirps: "Gelignite - dynamite. Take your pick, 'cos you're going to sleep!"
When he was a 20-year-old businessman who wore designer clothes and drove a Porsche 911 Targa, Lane went by two other nicknames: Catwalk Kev and Mr Particular. There is no reason to ask why. Lane is handsome. His boyish face and broad shoulders make him seem much younger than 33. His dark-blue shirt appears to have been ironed and his shoes polished. But it is by another name that he has become notorious, and this one wipes the smile from his face: the Executioner.
Four years ago, Lane was convicted at the Old Bailey of murdering Robert Magill, a 44-year-old businessman who was gunned down near his home in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, as he walked his dog, Oscar, on his way to nearby Chorley Wood Common on October 13, 1994. The jury heard Magill was shot five times, twice in the head, at "very close range".
The judge in his second trial, Neil Denison, described the attack as "desperately violent, shocking, horrifying". With a case that even prosecutors admitted was flimsy, Lane was accused of being a professional hitman who had been paid between £40,000 and £100,000. But that was just the start.
Following his conviction, Lane says he was the victim of a sustained smear campaign. In various newspapers, he was dubbed the Executioner, and linked to other unsolved murders. They included the assassinations of Charlie Wilson, the Great Train Robber targeted on the Costa del Sol in 1990, and Karen Reed, a 33-year-old geophysicist, who was shot on the doorstep of her home in Surrey in April 1994 by a man posing as a pizza delivery rider. One report claimed Lane had also worked to order for the Russian mafia.
When the TV presenter Jill Dando was shot on the doorstep of her home in Fulham in April 1999, Lane's name cropped up again. At the time, detectives wanted advice from expert hitmen. Newspapers said they turned to Lane to ask whether Dando's murder was the work of a professional.
"Nobody from the Dando team came to see me," he says. "It was rubbish, like most of the stuff that has been in the papers. Being wrongly convicted of one was bad enough. Then, overnight, I became a multiple murderer."
Lane says there is another story - his story - and it has only been half told. "Just hear me out," he says. "Then make up your own mind."
During the two visits I have paid him, and in several letters he has sent me from jail, Lane has described his life. He does not pretend he has never been in trouble. He has anecdotes that sound like scenes from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. But a killer? "No way."
A prolific hitman?
"It's just nonsense. I'll pick my hands up for a fight, but that's my limit."
He points to the evidence against him for the Magill murder. The prosecution relied on a set of coincidences Lane felt too fearful to explain at the time because he and his 52-year-old mother, Barbara, had been warned "to keep quiet". Lane is planning an appeal with the help of Vicky King, a lawyer with the London firm Thanki Novy Taube. His campaign is building momentum and has been invigorated recently by two very different sources.
The criminal cases review commission, which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice, has launched its own inquiry into the conviction - an unusual, proactive step. Normally, the commission only becomes involved following the rejection of a first appeal. And two criminals, influential figures in north London's underworld, contacted King out of the blue to insist Lane was not the murderer. They are the sort of men who would know.
Listening to Lane talk about his life, it is easy to see why his nicknames never included Lucky. The second eldest of eight children, his parents split up when he was a child. His father, Joseph, died "from drink" nine years ago, aged 44. His mother went abroad for several years when he was a teenager, leaving him in the care of friends. Ask Lane about his childhood and he recalls Special Patrol Group vans lining up outside pubs on his council estate ready for the rucks that started at closing time.
At secondary school in south Ruislip, he fell for a 14-year-old girl called Kim Purcell. This, he says, was the turning point in his life. "Other kids said to me: 'Kev, you know who she is, don't you?' I hadn't the faintest idea. I quickly discovered the Purcell family included some of the main criminals in the area."
Kim's uncle, Pat, the head of the family, who is due to be released from Whitemoor prison later this year, treated Lane like a son, and through the Purcells, Lane was introduced to the fringes of the criminal underworld, learning to survive on his wits and with his fists.
The family gave him work as a doorman, and then sold him a security firm. With Lane in charge - he was still only 18 - it flourished. At its peak, he was pro viding doormen for 12 pubs and six clubs in west London, earning £800 a week - more than enough to keep Kim and their two sons, Tommy and Aaron.
Lane is short for a bouncer - 5ft 11in - but those who worked for him say he was one of the best in the business. "There are advantages in being my size. When you approach a man who is 6ft 6in and ask him to calm down, he's not likely to feel threatened.
"But if someone wanted a fight, I could take care of myself. I was very quick. If a man came at me with a knife, I'd have a go. If he came at me with a gun, I'd still have a go. To be honest, I've never needed to carry a weapon."
Lane remembers once being on the door of a pub called the Firefly in Hayes, Middlesex. There had been trouble earlier in the day and the landlord wanted emergency cover. As Lane stood outside, a car slowed down and a man called out: "Do you want some of this?"
"He pointed a shotgun at me," says Lane. "He said he was going to kill me. I replied: 'Go on then.' And he bloody shot me! I didn't even know the kid. I ducked and several shotgun pellets shaved the top of my head. I've got still got six in my skull. I've never seen the guy since."
Some who crossed Lane learned the hard way. He and two others kidnapped a man they suspected of stealing £100,000 worth of electrical equipment. "We put a car on his legs and threw him in the Grand Union Canal. But we weren't going to kill him! We just roughed him up a bit." For that assault, Lane spent 14 months in prison - his only term before the Magill murder.
A year after his release, Lane had left door work and was making a good living through a range of business ventures ranging from organising raves to selling vacuum cleaners. But his life was about to change again.
He broke up with Kim and, in the spring of 1994, left the UK for Tenerife, where a friend had offered him work. Kim followed him and pleaded with him to return, which he did on September 29 - her birthday. Back at home in Potton, Cambridgeshire, Lane got in touch with his relatives and friends - hardly, he points out, a sensible thing for an assassin to do.
By then, Magill, a car trader and known villain, had been warned that there was a contract on his head. But he had made so many enemies, he didn't know where the threat came from. He became a prisoner in his own heavily protected home in Valley Road, Rickmansworth, venturing out once a day to take his dog for a walk. During his stroll at 8.20am on Thursday October 13, two men got out of a battered X-registered BMW as he approached the junction with Berry Lane. One shot him five times with a pump-action weapon, the other kept look-out.
The case against Lane, who was arrested three months after the murder, was based on one piece of forensic evidence found in the car, and several coincidences.
People who knew Lane were undoubtedly involved in the murder. The weekend before the assassination, Lane borrowed a BMW from a friend - his own car had been stolen - and used it to take Kim and the boys to see his mother, who had moved to Hillingdon. He said he returned it on Sunday evening. Four days later it was used by the killers as their getaway vehicle. When detectives recovered the car, they found Lane's fingerprint on a binliner in the boot. Scientists also found firearms discharge on a piece of plastic piping, and speculated that it had contained a weapon of some sort.
Lane never denied driving the car - his sons' fingerprints were all over the dashboard. "But I didn't have it the day Magill died. I used it once, that's all."
Lane says he knew something was up because he was called hours after the murder by a criminal contact who warned him that the police might pay a visit. "He didn't say anything else. He said there was nothing to worry about. I wasn't going to hang around for a knock on the door, so I took Kim and the kids to Newcastle for a short break."
To detectives, who had launched a huge investigation, his trip to the north-east pointed to his involvement in the murder. Lane's decision not to tell them about the call hardly helped. Nor did he tell them that his mother had also been threatened by a motorcycle rider who appeared at her front door one morning, warning her and Kevin to keep quiet.
The police had two other clues. Shortly after the murder, Lane bought a car for £5,400. Detectives speculated the money was part of his payment, though admitted there was no proof. Lane said it was money he had left in a safe before going to Tenerife, and that he had witnesses to back his story. Officers also discovered Lane flew back to the UK using an exit visa with the name Paul Curtis."We suspected he'd been recruited when he was in Tenerife and returned to do this specific job," says one detective involved in the inquiry. "As far as we were concerned, the pieces of the jigsaw had fallen into place."
Lane insists they jumped to the wrong conclusion. He says he couldn't return to the UK using his real passport because he was in trouble with the Spanish police over a brawl in a restaurant called The Steak House. However, again he didn't tell detectives about the fight.
After consulting with his then lawyers, Lane decided not to tell the jury about his connections to the underworld, a tactic he now considers a huge misjudgment. Instead, the defence focused on the major flaws in the prosecution. There were, for instance, two eyewitnesses to Magill's shooting, but neither picked out Lane at identity parades. Strangely, all the early police messages - reports from informants about likely suspects - made no mention of Lane. Two other names cropped up time and again.
How the police came to look at Lane in the first place has never been fully explained, and is an important avenue for Lane's new solicitor. Their suspicion is that his name was forwarded by the killer to cover himself. Even the police admit they were lucky to convict.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on Lane the first time round and his co-defendant Vincent was acquitted. A retrial was ordered. A second jury deliberated for nine hours and three minutes before reaching a majority decision that Lane was guilty. He was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years, and has been told he will serve at least 25. He has lost Kim, who has re-married, and he hardly sees his sons.
"Kevin Lane has not lived a crime-free life, but is he a contract killer? I am convinced that he is not," says King. "His lifestyle allowed the police to fit a case around him. His fear of those who told him to keep his mouth shut conspired to prevent him from telling the jury about his background. If he had not had any underworld connections, then he would not be where he is now. It would have been impossible to make the case stick."
Lane has not been charged with any other murders since he was in prison, and detectives now admit there is no concrete evidence to link him to any other shooting.
"If I had killed Magill, I would have got out of the country immediately," Lane says, "I wouldn't have hung around and bought a new car. All the way through the trial, people were saying to me: 'Don't worry, Kev, they've nothing on you, you'll get off.' And I believed them. Now I'm locked up for something I didn't do, and I've been accused of murders all over the place.
"I'm not a grass, but I've been inside far too long. I'm not going to give up. I know I can prove my innocence."