Killer wins right to appeal on conviction

Prostitute killer Philip Stanley yesterday won the right to appeal against his conviction after doubts were raised over key forensic evidence in the case.

Prostitute killer Philip Stanley yesterday won the right to appeal against his conviction after doubts were raised over key forensic evidence in the case.

The 58-year-old traveller was jailed for life after he was found guilty at Norwich Crown Court in 2005 of murdering 23-year-old Hayley Curtis.

Miss Curtis's body was found in a shallow grave in Hampshire, three months after she was snatched from the streets of Norwich in 2001.

Stanley has now challenged the safety of his conviction at London's Appeal Court and Lord Justice Latham granted him permission to appeal the jury's verdict.


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It comes after a Home Office review of disgraced pathologist Michael Heath's work.

Dr Heath gave evidence at Stanley's trial, saying Miss Curtis suffered injuries which suggested she had been stamped or jumped on. Other pathologists said the cause of death could not be established.

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Last year, an investigation into whether Dr Heath's work met “required standards” found errors in crucial post-mortem examinations on two women. This led to a series of appeals including by Steven Puaca, from Lowestoft, whose conviction was quashed after he was wrongly jailed in 2002 for killing his partner, Jacqueline Tindsley.

Yesterday, the judge said Stanley's legal team had raised concerns over Dr Heath's evidence.

Stanley's QC, Christine Laing, said the pathologist had advanced a positive case that kicking and stamping were the causes of Miss Curtis's death. She said there was “scant evidence” on which to base that theory.

Stanley, also known as Duke Lee, admitted having been with Miss Curtis, originally from Thetford, at the time of her death but said she died of natural causes as they prepared to have sex in a field.

He did not raise the alarm because he was afraid that he would be blamed for her death, he claimed.

The father of at least 13 children was living in Harlow, Essex, at the time and was said to have met Miss Curtis as he visited Norwich searching for his partner.

When he was sentenced, he was told he would serve a minimum of 21 years in jail. Mrs Justice Cox said she had taken into the account the “extreme acts of violence” he had shown to women throughout his life.

Miss Curtis was last seen at the start of December 2001 and was not found until January 4 2002. During this period she is thought to have suffered ritual violence and abuse.

No date was set for the full hearing of Stanley's appeal.

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