Shotgun murder appeal rejected

PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 October 2011




A WESTON killer serving life for the brutal murder of a Cornish couple in their own home has had his complaints of an unfair trial dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights.

Lee Firkins was convicted of murder alongside his brother Robert following a trial at Exeter Crown Court in January 2006.

A jury ruled the duo had shot and bludgeoned Carol and Graham Fisher to death at their home in Wadebridge on Bonfire Night 2003.

The brothers, now in their 30s, had denied the murders, insisting they were somewhere else at the time.

Despite their protests, they were jailed for life. An appeal was dismissed in 2008.

However, Lee Firkins took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, insisting his right to a fair trial had been violated.

He argued damning testimony from jailbirds who shared a cell with Robert Firkins before the trial - one of whom claimed the killer told him to ‘watch Crimewatch and you’ll see my work’ - was the only real evidence of his guilt.

Lee Firkins’ legal team pointed out that the jury ‘consisted of non-lawyers’ who could not be expected to understand fine legal points, particularly the strictly limited relevance of the ‘cell confession’ evidence.

However, the Strasbourg court’s Registrar President, Lawrence Garlicki, this week roundly rejected Firkins’ complaints, saying they are ‘manifestly ill-founded’. Jurors were carefully directed on the need to approach the cell confession evidence with caution, he said.

On the night of the killings, the Weston brothers had admitted visiting relatives in Foxhole and St Dennis in Cornwall, just 12 miles from the murder scene.

They claimed they had gone to Cornwall to buy cannabis, but prosecutors argued it was unlikely they would have travelled so far to buy a few pounds worth of drugs.

The Firkins brothers had admitted being behind a spate of shotgun robberies around the South West.

After the murders, two shotguns were found on a beach where the brothers had buried them.

However, forensics experts were unable to directly link either the guns or the brothers to the murders of Mr and Mrs Fisher.

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