Supreme Court ruling in Kevin Nunn case casts doubt over Norfolk man’s bid for freedom

Antonio Lopes is serving life for murdering his partner.

Antonio Lopes is serving life for murdering his partner. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press Archant

A convicted murderer's bid to have evidence reexamined looks unlikely to go ahead after a test case in Suffolk was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

Antonio Lopes is serving life for murdering his partner, Dominguez Olivais, and dumping her body in the River Bure at Great Yarmouth in 2002. Lopes, who was convicted by a jury at Norwich Crown Court of strangling Miss Olivais and violating her body with a piece of wood, has protested his innocence from jail.

Last month, defence lawyer James Saunders said Lopes could challenge his conviction if the Supreme Court ruled in favour of allowing DNA samples in a Suffolk murder case to be reexamined.

However, Woolpit man Kevin Nunn - convicted of killing his ex-partner Dawn Walker in 2006 - last week lost that case. The Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected Nunn's appeal, casting doubt of the likelihood of Lopes applying to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body charged with examining potential wrongful convictions.

Nunn's legal team, lead by Mr Saunders, was trying to force Suffolk police to give them access to key forensic evidence they claimed was not properly examined at the time. This includes sperm found on Miss Walker's body after she died in February 2005, from which the original investigators were unable to get a full DNA profile.

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If that test case had been successful, Mr Saunders planned to seek similar access to evidence used in Lopes' trial which, he said, could now be better examined with today's DNA technology.

Opponents have claimed a ruling in favour of retesting DNA samples could lead to a lack of finality with the justice system - as science improves, more and more closed cases and convictions based on circumstantial evidence could potentially be reopen.

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Mr Saunders, however, believes the ruling would have lead to a 'manageable' number of appeals - 'hundreds' at most.

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