Conviction quashed over careless questioning

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A MAN’S conviction for robbing a shop at knifepoint only three hours after he had raided a petrol station has been quashed on appeal – because of a prosecutor’s “careless” question.

During Salvatore Sivero’s trial for the two early-morning robberies in Edinburgh, a detective was asked about his role in the inquiry. His answer suggested Sivero, 30, had a criminal record and had served a jail term, which ought not to have been revealed to the jury.

The Court of Criminal Appeal criticised the question by advocate-depute Rosemary Guinnane, and ruled Sivero suffered a miscarriage of justice. “We accept what occurred was not deliberate [but] consider the question was unnecessary and careless…,” said Lady Paton, sitting with Lord Mackay and Lady Cosgrove.

Sivero was jailed for five years for the two offences and a new sentence for only the incident at the filling station will be imposed at a later hearing.

The robberies occurred at 4am and 6:50am at the Shell garage in Glasgow Road, Edinburgh, and MA Newsagents in Brunswick Road, Edinburgh, on 19 July, 2011. In the first, Sivero presented a knife and robbed an employee of a packet of cigarettes and £50. In the second, the raider held a knife to the throat of shopkeeper Mohammed Aslam, 54, who fought back and suffered a broken thumb. The robber escaped with £200.

Sivero admitted the Shell charge but denied the shop raid.

Detective Constable Peter Stark told the jury he recognised Sivero in CCTV footage taken near the shop. Ms Guinnane asked if he played any other part in the inquiry, to which DC Stark said he had checked with Edinburgh Prison “to find out if Mr Sivero was in or out of custody”.