Wrongly convicted man wins £490 for each day in prison

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A MAN has received almost £900,000 in compensation for serving five years of a life sentence before his conviction for murder was quashed on appeal.

The disclosure was made yesterday as Richard Karling, 52, abandoned a damages claim against Strathclyde Police over the miscarriage of justice he had suffered in being jailed in 1995.

His settlement equates to about 490 for every day he wrongly spent in prison.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh was told that the lawsuit had become unnecessary because the Scottish Executive had agreed an ex-gratia payment to Mr Karling of 891,717.

He had been found guilty of drugging and smothering his former girlfriend, but won an appeal amid suggestions that the police had suppressed evidence. As he left court yesterday, Mr Karling, of Ayr, said: "I am really happy the Executive did the right thing. They gave me a really good settlement. I was only looking for fairness. I believe I have been treated fairly. It showed the level of the miscarriage of justice that had taken place."

Mr Karling formed a relationship with Dorothy Niven, 33, a secretary, who died in 1995.

She and Mr Karling, a salesman, had separated, but she agreed to meet him in a cafe in Glasgow. Ms Niven fell ill and witnesses described her as being floppy, like a rag doll. Mr Karling took home to Busby, and he maintained she was still alive when he left. He said he found her body the next day when he went to check on her.

At a trial at the High Court in Glasgow, the prosecution alleged that in the restaurant Mr Karling had spiked Ms Niven's orange juice with temazepam, sleeping pills, and had smothered her. He was convicted of murder on a majority verdict.

An important piece of evidence for the Crown had been a test carried out at Glasgow University on a sample of Ms Niven's blood. Initially, it had produced a negative result for temazepam but, after re-checking, a positive finding was made.

However, the jury never heard that a second sample had been sent to Guy's Hospital in London. It was only during preparations for Mr Karling's appeal that the Crown discovered the result of the Guy's test, which was then reported to Mr Karling's lawyers.

Mr Karling was released in 2000, to await his appeal the following year. The Court of Criminal Appeal was told that the Guy's report said the blood did not contain temazepam.

The report had been sent to the detective leading the murder inquiry, but had not been divulged to the prosecution or the defence at the trial.

The result was "completely contradictory of the evidence that was placed before the jury" and the appeal judges

ruled there had been a miscarriage of justice, quashing the conviction.