Livingston armed robbery conviction appeal begins

The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: Bill Henry

The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: Bill Henry

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APPEAL judges have started hearing a man’s attempt to overturn a conviction for armed robbery more than 30 years ago.

William Beck, 52, was given a six-year jail sentence after being found guilty by a jury of robbing a Post Office van in Livingston, West Lothian, just before Christmas 1981.

He has persistently protested his innocence, and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, decided last year to refer the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

It said: “The commission is of course well aware that protestations of innocence, even over a long period, are no guarantee of factual innocence. However, the breadth and persistence of the applicant’s conduct in pursuing his claims of miscarriage of justice is striking and is unlike any other applicant the commission has encountered.”

Beck has received the support of Bristol University’s “Innocence Project” which raised questions about the identification evidence used by the prosecution at his trial.

He claimed to have been in Glasgow on the day of the robbery, but he was picked out at an identification parade by two witnesses.

A hearing in the appeal court continues before Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice-Clerk, sitting with Lords Brodie and Marnoch, and the judges are expected to give their ruling in writing at a later date.

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