The Victor Nealon Case

Victor Nealon

My compiling of cases of false rape allegations continues. I pause awhile to bring you the case of Victor Nealon, former postman. Most of the false allegation cases in my compilation relate either to events which never happened, or to consensual sex which was later claimed to be non-consensual. In this case, however, there has been no suggestion that the complainant was untruthful or that her claims were inaccurate. This is a case of simply convicting the wrong man. Though the story starts in 1997 it is not until mid-2015 that this case reaches its final appalling conclusion…..

I quote from the blog of solicitor advocate Mark Newby: “In January 1997 Victor Nealon began a discretionary life sentence which would see him serve 17 years in custody. Last Friday he started his new life, on the streets of Birmingham and with nowhere to stay after the State had washed its hands of him. What does it say about our society that we simply turn out men like Victor Nealon onto the street after 17 years…..he will now face the prospect of mounting a claim for compensation in an atmosphere in which the Secretary of State for Justice is seeking to narrow the test for compensation. We should have a system in place for cases like this where those released are fully supported and receive urgent interim financial support. Disturbingly the State will instead put every hurdle in the way of Victor Nealon as he fights to have his life restored. The judgment and the back story behind this case serves as a depressing epitaph for the criminal justice system and its complete lack of progress since the notorious miscarriages on the late 1980s and early 1990s”.

Mr Nealon, a postman, had been unjustly convicted of attempted rape and wrongfully imprisoned for life. He had been in jail for 17 years. In 2014, after his conviction was finally quashed, Mr Nealon was discharged from Wakefield prison with £46 and nowhere to stay. He spent his first night of freedom as a homeless man on the streets. Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it?

The victim was subjected to an attempted rape outside a nightclub. The attacker had been seen in the night club hours before and was described as having a noticeable lump to his forehead and a strong Scottish accent. After the attack he made his escape.

Victor Nealon had never been to the nightclub in question. Mr Nealon is of Irish extraction and has a strong Irish accent. Although he has a facial disfigurement, this is due to serious acne. He has no ‘lump’.  His misfortune was to be living in the area and to have, in the past, been convicted of offences. So he was arrested.

Some weeks after his arrest Nealon was asked to stand in an ID parade which he readily volunteered to do. The ID parade failed to follow the required procedures. The police officer leading the case was present at the ID parade and spoke to at least one of the witnesses. This contravenes procedure because of the possibility of influencing the witness, deliberately or accidentally. Oddly, the complainant herself did not attend the ID parade. One witness picked out Mr Nealon but stressed that the man involved had a strong Scottish accent. Other witnesses failed to pick out the applicant, including the victim’s friend who helped compile an e-fit picture.

Mr Nealon was at home with his partner and daughter at the time of the offence. He thus had an alibi, but the prosecution mounted an attack on this alibi in court over the alibis’ error in correctly naming the videos they had watched that night. The defence team were unaware of this evidence before trial and so had not the opportunity to present their own version of the issue.

But the most serious failure was in respect of DNA evidence. Mr Nealon had provided DNA samples to the police officer involved with leading the case and understood this was to facilitate testing against the woman’s clothing. Not only did that testing not occur but the exhibits, apart from a skirt, remained in their sealed evidence bags. Staggeringly, the court was not given the true position over the lack of forensic testing in the case.

The DNA testing was finally done only in 2009, twelve years after Mr Nealon had been convicted and sent to prison. The DNA present in all key intimate areas was that of an unknown male and not Victor Nealon. It would be another five years before he would be exonerated by the Court of Appeal. Finally, in 2014, the Court of Appeal concluded in its judgment: ‘the jury may reasonably have reached the conclusion, based on the DNA evidence, that it was a real possibility that the “unknown male” – and not the appellant – was the attacker.’ If the DNA testing had been done in 1997 then a man would not have lost 17 years of his life. But in 1998 and 2002 the Criminal Cases Review Commission had refused to carry out the DNA tests.

Quoting Mark Newby, “All of this conduct – the failure to undertake the DNA assessments, the misleading of the court, the collection of late rebuttal evidence and presence of the officer at the ID Parade – are all indicative of a disturbing approach to building a case against Victor Nealon at all costs. Had those involved with the case chosen instead to investigate the case in a fair and open manner then the result would have been very different.”

The euphoria of his release now some years past, Victor Nealon’s life is grim. His parents died while he was in jail and his partner and daughter moved on. He lives alone. Prospective employers treat him with suspicion. He lives on benefits.

After 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Mr Nealon’s application for compensation was turned down. He appealed, but to no avail. He was turned down again.

He sees his doctor once or twice weekly and gets medication to help him through the nightmares. His medical problems stem from his treatment in prison. “It’s one thing to lose your friends, family, freedom, money and job. It’s quite another to be told that if you don’t confess to the crime you’ll never be released,” he said. He maintained his innocence even though it cost him an extra seven years in prison.

He had three hours’ notice of his release, was given a train ticket and £46.

11 thoughts on “The Victor Nealon Case

  1. M

    They had the necessary technology. Carefully considered procedures were already prepared, all they had to do was follow them.

    They are without excuse.

    It’s just …grotesque.

  2. AJ

    The more cases like this I read the more I realise how low the bar for conviction is and how we are all at risk protected by good fortune rather than an effective system to prevent injustice.

    What seeems to be sufficient to be convicted is a lack of forensics, and a single witness against. Human memory is notoriously malleable and fallible so almost nothing at all.

    A common thread seems to be that the police set out to construct a case rather than investigate the crime. Things not helpful to the case are not investigated or disclosed. The goal appears to be, perhaps unsurprisingly, to gain a conviction not to find the truth. Priority seems to be given to surpressing anything embarassing to the police.

    This effect of this falls disproportionately on men. Is it worse for accusations of a sexual nature compared to other serious accusations? This shocking case suggetss not:

    1. William Collins Post author

      Having read well over 100 cases now I can confirm that accusation = conviction appears to be the norm – though I am selecting only cases of false allegation to examine, so there is a selection bias operating. However, what is clear, is that if you are accused you – or a friend – must be prepared to prove your innocence, by seeking the evidence yourself if necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t do your own DNA tests on exhibits in police possession.

  3. Anne

    Absolutely disgusting. This gentleman deserves 100.000s as compensation for the error the state commited. Not just to make good the injustice but to enable him a decent living standard and a fresh start in life. He should be able to catch up on all that he missed in those 17 years. No money in the world will get him his time back but at least it’s a start in the right direction

  4. Mike

    Eventually, men will have enough of this shit! You and me will be long dead because let’s face it; men don’t give a shit about you, about me, even about THEMSELVES!!!

    1. paul parmenter

      I understand the anger and frustration, because it is sadly true. This site is one of the very best I have ever found for highlighting the injustices of our society against the male sex. William is meticulous in investigating factual evidence and material. Yet his important exposures attract barely a handful of comments, and I assume therefore barely a bigger handful of readers. Yet comparatively worthless sites that merely parrot twitterish claptrap and perpetuate all kinds of silly or damaging stereotypes attract enormous interest and thousands of responses. It is as if the greater part of our population is held in a kind of mental and moral paralysis.

      1. William Collins Post author

        I comfort myself with the thought that the quality of readership is in inverse proportion to its volume.

  5. Godfrey Sandford

    This case is beyond belief. Not only has an innocent man been wrongly imprisoned for 17 years, but he has was wrongly held in prison as a sex offender. Almost impossible to consider the years of cruel torture that Mr Nealon was obliged to endure from both the other prisoners and the prison wardens, since he was apparently a sex offender. His case ought to be a national scandal. This case is the reality of British Justice if you happen to be male in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

  6. CitymanMichael

    Travesty that this poor man in worldly reality would have been better off if they had kept him in prison – it can’t get any worse than that.


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