A man is serving life in prison after being taken to trial based on an identification procedure which experts say should never have been allowed.
A witness who identified Jason Moore as a killer only did so after police had already shown him Jason’s photograph.
Jason, from Canary Wharf, was arrested, charged and taken to trial as a result.
The Met Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have each since suggested that the other was responsible for that ID procedure going ahead.
Jason has now spent nine years behind bars for stabbing Robert Darby, from the Isle of Dogs, to death outside the Valentine pub in Gants Hill in August 2005.
He may never be released, as he refuses to say he committed the crime.
Among those fighting for his release is Havering man Tim Darby – the older brother of his alleged victim.
Prosecutors claimed two witnesses’ descriptions of a man seen clashing with Robert on the morning he was stabbed meant Jason had to be the killer.
But a Newsquest investigation has found that Jason did not actually fit the witnesses’ descriptions of the man they saw – and the one who picked Jason out of a line-up had previously identified somebody else, who was innocent.
Jurors at the Old Bailey heard in 2013 from two eyewitnesses.
The first testified under a codename – Sally Palmer – after police claimed she feared reprisal if her real name was used.
She was driving up Perth Road, Ilford, on August 24, 2005, when she saw three men in the carriageway ahead.
She had to slow down and drive around them.
The second witness was Abdul Ahmed, a Somalian man who testified under his own name.
He was walking up Perth Road, lost, when he saw the three men.
The prosecution case
Both witnesses said Robert was facing two other men and had a physical altercation with the taller of the two.
Prosecutors said these two men had to be Jason and his friend Martin Power, who admitted arriving at the Valentine that morning in Mr Power’s car and encountering Robert.
Mr Power testified that he exited the car first and was knocked to the floor by Robert, but did not injure Robert.
Jurors accepted this and acquitted him of murder.
Jason insisted he remained inside the car until he witnessed this tussle, then exited – but said he never laid a finger on Robert. Jurors convicted him of murder.
The only knife found at the scene was Robert’s, found in his own hand, covered in his own blood – but Mr Ahmed claimed to have seen a second knife in the taller man’s hand, and a post-mortem suggested Robert’s wound was slightly too deep to have been caused by his own blade.
Prosecutors said the two men in the road had to have been Jason and Mr Power, and that Jason, as the taller of the two, must be the knifeman.
Descriptions did not match
But Newsquest has listened to Mr Ahmed and Ms Palmer’s police interviews, recorded that day.
Whilst Mr Ahmed said the taller of the two men clashed with Robert, he also said that man was shorter than Robert, who was measured in his post-mortem as 5’11”.
He estimated Robert’s height at six feet and the man who clashed with him at 5’10”, with hair shaved to a number two.
The third man, Mr Ahmed said, was even shorter – about 5’6″.
Ms Palmer also said the assailant had been the same height as Robert, perhaps one inch taller, with “normal length” brown hair, and the third man had been shorter.
Jason Moore is 6’4″ in bare feet – even taller in shoes – and had a full head of long, dark hair.
“I’m quite a big lad and he towers over me,” said retired Met Police murder cop Steve Hobbs.
“Yet none of the witnesses allude to the fact that this great big individual was there in the street.”
First ID parades
Weeks after the stabbing, police took both witnesses to Belgravia police station for photo ID parades, which were filmed.
First, each was shown a photo line-up which included Jason’s picture. Neither recognised Jason.
They were then shown line-ups including Mr Power. Neither picked him either.
Ms Palmer thought she recognised one man in Mr Power’s line-up, but was not 100 per cent sure. The man was not Mr Power.
Mr Ahmed did choose somebody – a thin-faced man with very short, receding hair.
“I picked out number one, who is the person I saw with the knife who stabbed the other person,” he wrote in a statement.
But the man he chose, who looked nothing like Jason, was an innocent ID parade volunteer.
Mr Power has declined to comment. None of Newsquest’s findings implicate him.
A second ID parade
Seven years later, Mr Ahmed was asked to participate in another photo line-up, where he was shown Jason’s photograph a second time. This time he picked Jason as the stabber.
Jason was arrested and charged with murder.
Experts have told Newsquest they have serious concerns about this.
“In 2013, when he did the second ID parade, he picked out Jason Moore, with a big head of dark hair, in comparison to the guy that he picked out in 2005 that was nearly bald,” said Mr Hobbs.
“Really, that’s quite incredible… all those years on, he’s suddenly backflipped, as it were.”
Mr Hobbs, who worked on more than 200 murder cases in his career, is so convinced of Jason’s innocence that he has been helping him for years at no charge.
He told Newsquest he had never in his career asked a witness to participate in more than one ID parade featuring the same suspect.
“I find it highly unusual,” he said.
“It should absolutely not be happening,” said eyewitness identification expert Professor Amina Memon, from London’s Royal Holloway University. “Repeated identifications are hugely problematic.”
Retired Goldsmiths University professor Tim Valentine agreed. He has advised the government and the courts on eyewitness identification and worked on miscarriage of justice cases.
“A second identification procedure with the same witness and the same suspect should not be run,” he said.
“The result can be influenced by the first procedure. There is good evidence on this point.”
In other words, said Dr Julie Gawrylowicz, another expert, from Abertay University in Dundee: “It could have been that your witness has identified Jason not because he has actually seen him or he remembers him from the crime scene, but because he has encountered his picture, his face, in the first line-up and therefore it has triggered a feeling of familiarity.”
The judge in Jason’s 2013 trial found the second ID so problematic that he instructed jurors not to consider it in their deliberations – but only after it had already been heard.
Mr Hobbs has concerns about that.
“That’s a thing the legal system does and thinks it works. But for me personally, I think it’s a very difficult concept for a jury member,” he said.
“That ID was the piece of evidence which allowed Jason to be charged and taken to trial,” added Jason’s sister Kirstie.
“If it wasn’t admissible, the whole case should have been thrown out. He should have never been on trial in the first place.”
In a 2012 letter, a senior Met Police officer on the case told Jason’s solicitor, who had raised concerns about the ID, that the CPS had signed it off.
“Advice was sought from the CPS and it was agreed that a further identification process could take place,” he wrote.
But questioned by Newsquest, the CPS said: “The procedural approach is a matter for the Metropolitan Police and we do not oversee their investigation.”
The Met Police said it did not comment on the specifics of old cases.
It would only say that the Robert Darby case was closed, “but should the circumstances change we will assess them and consider the most appropriate way to manage any developments in this investigation.”
While the usefulness of the ID and physical descriptions is now in doubt, both witnesses also told jurors the man who tussled with Robert wore a blue jacket – and Jason appeared to accept at trial that he was wearing a blue jacket that day.
But was he?