A witness who helped to convict a man for rape when there was no DNA evidence linking him to the crime claims she was pressured by police to testify, and doubts he was the attacker.
Andrew Malkinson spent 17 years in prison for the rape of a 33-year-old mother left for dead on a motorway embankment in Salford in July 2003. His insistence on his innocence kept him in jail more than a decade longer than if he had admitted the crime.
Malkinson, 55, was released from prison last December, but has yet to overturn his conviction. Since then the case against him has continued to unravel.
There were no forensics to convict him, and DNA testing commissioned this year by his lawyers identified another unknown man. Greater Manchester police (GMP) are reviewing the case.
The doubts cast by the witness will add to pressure on the police to reopen the investigation.
Deborah Hardman, whose family Malkinson stayed with before the attack, said the police threatened her and her husband, John, with arrest if they did not appear as witnesses, and that she doubted Malkinson was the rapist.
Speaking for the first time since the year he was convicted, Deborah, 56, said: “We were forced to go to court. It was quite frightening.” She described Malkinson as “really laid back” and said: “He never did any harm to me or my family, he never showed any sign of violence. Everybody got on all right with him, and the kids liked him.”
The Hardmans were used by the prosecution to persuade the jury that Malkinson was an oddball who sleepwalked into their room, drank so much he urinated on the sofa and was active at night. They also claimed he walked around topless and had a shiny hairless chest, matching the description of the attacker, though photos of Malkinson from the time show chest hair.
Originally from Grimsby, Malkinson liked to backpack, and befriended the Hardmans and their three teenage children on holiday in the Canary Islands in May 2003. Shortly after the family returned home, he called them for help, saying he had been mugged on the beach. They wired him £70 for a flight to Manchester and offered to put him up at their Salford home while he found work to pay them back.
He became a shopping centre security guard and repaid them. In the weeks before the attack he had fallen out with them after burning toast at 4am and urinating on the sofa, and moved to stay with a colleague. The court was told that in July, six days after the attack, the Hardmans came to the shopping centre where he worked and threatened to “stove his head in” if he did not pay for the sofa. Malkinson gave them £50 and reported them to the police.
In an article in Take A Break magazine in 2004 titled “Hi, I’m your holiday psycho!”, Deborah said she had made “a terrible mistake befriending him” and that when he stayed with them he walked around at night, was “semi-clothed” in the house and read a handbook on how to kill people. It was, in fact, a popular SAS survival guide.
The Hardmans, described in court as “known troublemakers”, had a string of convictions for dishonesty offences, though Deborah’s were more historical. The judge said the defence had put to Deborah that she would say “whatever she wanted to get [Malkinson] convicted” because she had fallen out with him.
She now claims that she was a reluctant witness, and that just before going into court she was shown a “pending” conviction for fraud and deception that she knew nothing about and that was never mentioned again.
“I think [the pending conviction] was all made up. This ‘pending’ of mine was fraud and deception, something like that. I queried it and they said you can’t take it up with us, you’ll have to look into it yourself.”
Asked if this had happened and if it was to encourage her to co-operate, GMP did not respond to specific points, but a spokeswoman said: “A formal complaint has also been registered with the GMP professional standards branch regarding concerns raised in relation to certain aspects of the historical conduct of the case. In respect of that complaint, additional recent submissions have been lodged and are also being considered by GMP. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment.”
Malkinson had been pulled over by police the month before the rape took place for riding pillion on the off-road motorbike of the Hardmans’ son Jonathan near the site of the attack. The constables claimed to have remembered him when a description of the attacker was released.
Malkinson always suspected the Hardman family were linked to his arrest, but Deborah denies this.
Malkinson said of Deborah’s comments: “I’m bewildered by their responses now, and I don’t know what to believe,” adding: “I want to know why I became a suspect in the first place.”
Another puzzle over police handling of the case is that a “crucial” witness never appeared in court. An article in the Manchester Evening News published the week after the rape said a man “told police he saw the rapist standing at the top of the embankment shortly after the attack”. The article was based on quotes from two detectives on the case but there is no record in the judge’s summing up of this man having ever appeared in court.
The latest controversy follows revelations about the undisclosed criminal convictions of another two witnesses, after an investigation by the miscarriage of justice charity Appeal. Malkinson’s conviction was largely based on the victim and two other witnesses picking him out of a video identity parade.
The two witnesses, a couple, identified him after claiming they had seen him near the scene of the crime before the attack while out driving in the early hours of the morning. GMP has admitted it misled the court by presenting the couple as honest when, in fact, they had 16 convictions for 38 offences between them.
Malkinson’s lawyer, Emily Bolton at the miscarriage of justice charity Appeal, said: “You rarely get wrongfully convicted without there being something very wrong with the process that led to that conviction. It seems the more questions that are asked about this case, the more skeletons are coming out of the closet.”
Malkinson is waiting for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to decide if his case can be referred back to the Court of Appeal based on the fresh DNA and witness evidence. GMP said it had appointed a “senior officer to undertake a review of the case” and is “assisting and co-operating with the CCRC”.
Malkinson said: “I want the case overturning because I’m completely innocent. I don’t want a false conviction hanging round my neck to the end of my days.”
Our last general election manifesto is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.
Nobody connected with J4MB has ever drawn any personal income from the party’s income streams. If you’d like to support Mike Buchanan financially, you can do so via his Patreon account or through Bitcoin, his account address is 1EfWxqDAtgJDCR3tVpvVj4fXSuUu4S9WJf . Thank you.