CCRC: Is Terry Smith a victim of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice?
Updated: Jul 14
In this article we delve into the case of Terry Smith and the refusal of the CCRC to investigate his thoroughly documented claim that police have fabricated evidence against him, leading to him being imprisoned in 2010. In examining his allegations, we uncover convincing evidence that the CCRC may be protecting the reputations of police officers who went to considerable lengths to ‘frame’ Smith. Yet again, we find that the CCRC would rather find convoluted legal arguments for taking no action rather than instigate an investigation that could potentially result in deep embarrassment for the police and potentially lead several witnesses to be prosecuted for perjury.
Terry Smith used to be an armed robber before he resolved to ‘go straight’. Smith was a career criminal who later became a successful true-crime writer and a consultant to film producers. He wrote four books and was the technical adviser on the 2006 film Inside Man. All this was achieved after being jailed for 15 years for a series of armed robberies in the Eighties. He was convicted again of conspiracy to rob and conspiracy of possession of firearms with intent in 2010.[i]
On February 28 2008, Smith was driving a car which followed a Loomis cash in transit van along the A127 in Essex. Smith and his passenger were stopped and arrested by police near Brentwood on suspicion of conspiracy to rob.
At trial, Smith alleged that the police tampered with evidence by changing the details of the van he was following. He believes CCTV footage and number plate recognition data will support his version of events. Essex Police refused Smith’s request to release the data and refused to confirm or deny whether it even still held the information - citing “data protection” reasons.
Terry Smith is now serving an indeterminate life sentence (no fixed tariff) for a string of seven cash-in-transit robberies committed between 2006 and 2008, and which netted £172,000 in total. The most serious charge was related to one raid on 25 May 2007, outside Rayleigh train station in Essex, when witness Adam Mapleson, then 25, came to the aid of a female security guard, and was shot in the chest, almost certainly by accident. Mapleson was lucky to survive. Brian Wall was convicted of the shooting through DNA evidence and is also serving an indeterminate life sentence. Terry says that at the time of the raid at 7.13am, “I was in bed with my wife and 7 year-old son ten miles away in Canvey Island, Essex.”
In Terry’s own words:
"Sadly, it is no revelation to say that the police often manufacture evidence during investigations; nor that they often convince a jury to convict an innocent man. But what is at the extreme end of evil, is when the police deliberately concoct an entire crime. My nightmare ordeal started back in May 2008, when I was taken to Southend police station where I faced six lengthy police interviews and where I was instructed by my legal advisers to make no comment to all questions until detectives put some concrete evidence to me directly linking me to the offences. The nearest they came to implicating me in any criminal offence was when I was observed by the police conducting research for my latest commissioned true crime book. As part of this research I was seen to examine an old type of Mercedes Loomis cash van.
Despite a lamentable lack of any evidence against me, I was charged with nine offences and remanded to Belmarsh prison to await trial. Apparently, the robbers had left a wealth of evidence behind at the scene of the crimes, including DNA, fingerprints, CCTV, handwriting, telephone evidence, but not one iota of this incriminating evidence was directly linked to me.
At one stage during the protracted, media-driven, multi-million pound Police enquiry, my name was added to, then completely erased from, a hot list of 148 suspects. (see CrimeWatchSolved 01/09/2010).
Evidently, upon arrest, however, an executive Police decision was taken to build a case around me based upon significant DNA evidence that implicated three others in the offences, one of them my elder brother (54) who was subsequently acquitted at trial.
During my remand time, I was placed on 26 computerised Viper ID parades where I was eventually misidentified by a witness who had apparently seen me from an upstairs bedroom 54 metres away, as being a 5’ 5” tall, able-bodied, black-haired Indian man. The fact is, however, that I am a 5’ 10”, white, north European male with a serious leg disability. Furthermore, I was at home with my wife and child at the time concerned.
It gets worse. At the trial, the eyewitness said he was unable to describe or recall facial features from that distance and that he identified the suspect Terence Smith due to his ‘height and build’. When it was pointed out that you cannot estimate the ‘height and build’ of a person on the neck and head only video screen, he stuck to his story. The jury failed to reach a verdict and a retrial was ordered.
Primarily, this was because, I emphatically suggest, the police and Loomis UK Ltd had unlawfully switched the old-type Mercedes Loomis CIT van I was researching for a newer Ford Iveco model in order to denigrate my testimony as ‘a big fat lie’.
At the retrial, a defence application was tendered to exclude the risible ID evidence as manifestly unreliable and unsafe; however the trial judge unfairly dismissed the application, and it was left in the hands of the jury.
As for the police/Loomis-manufactured evidence, I pushed for disclosure in order to prove precisely what type of Loomis vehicle was in use on that day. But the Crown said that there was no CCTV, video or mobile footage on the route.
In any event, the jury foreman, who was a local bank manager, declared I was guilty by a unanimous verdict, and I was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence (IPP) with a minimum tariff of 12 years.
In July 2011, I submitted a complaint to the police/IPCC and asked them to run an archive ANPR check on the Ford Iveco CIT vehicle to show it was somewhere else in Essex at the time of the offence. The complaint was rejected as out of time and an abuse of process.
A year later, I discovered, through Freedom of Information and Data Protection Act applications that the detective chief superintendent, witness liaison officer and disclosure officer had all resigned from the police service within weeks of my complaint. Three senior managers who gave false evidence at my trials had also been dismissed from Loomis.
A wheelbarrow of further complaints followed to the IPCC, Loomis UK, Security Industry Authority, Information Commissioner, Legal Ombudsman and other bodies – but I continue to be shafted in every direction.”
Evidence of the deception presented to the Court is substantial. The prosecuting force was British Transport Police (BTP) supported by Essex Police. The gist of Smith’s complaint is twofold. Firstly, that evidence has been fabricated to suggest that he followed a specific Loomis cash-in-transit van along the A127 and secondly that witnesses were coached by a police officer to identify him.
While Smith was held on remand, he faced 26 VIPER ID parades[ii] conducted by Essex Police Officer PC G, who Smith alleges systematically breached the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Code D and assisted witnesses to identify him at two separate robberies. When summoned to give evidence at his retrial the ID Officer refused to attend due to ‘illness and protracted recuperation and convalescence.’
The first identification was by a Loomis security guard SS, evidence which was excluded from the first trial by the Judge as being inherently unreliable and unsafe. Whereupon it is alleged that the ID Officer sought to 'improve’ the quality of the identification.
The second identification was by the witness KF who misidentified Smith as a short, black-haired, 5 feet 5 inches tall able-bodied Indian man without a leg impediment.
The ID Officer, PC G, was observed on VIPER suite CCTV communicating non-verbally with the witnesses via a piece of A4 paper which was then concealed seconds before the supposed positive identification.
There was no evidence to directly link Smith to the historic Cash-in-Transit offences. Smith was observed during a period of surveillance following and watching a specific Loomis vehicle in the Basildon area. During Smith’s testimony he said that he was interested in the old type of Mercedes Loomis CIT vehicle (prefix P, R or S reg) for research reasons in regard to a commissioned true crime book entitled; BLAGGER'S INC: BRITAIN'S BIGGEST ARMED ROBBERIES, published by Pennant Books in December 2008.
Smith says that BTP detectives dishonestly replaced documentation related to the old type of Mercedes Loomis CIT vehicle which was relevant to a chapter in his book for a newer Ford Iveco model index BW 04 SZX. According to Smith, the only evidence that said the specific Loomis vehicle BW 04 SZX was on the Basildon route that day was contained in falsified Loomis documents. In support of this assertion, it is a fact that two police surveillance teams failed to record the index number of the Loomis vehicle.
CCTV and ANPR data would have cleared up who was telling the truth about this vital issue. Yet, according to the police the Loomis vehicle made its entire journey around Essex, some 99 miles, along major trunk roads without ever being recorded by either CCTV or ANPR technology. However, between the first trial and the retrial Smith sent two letters to the CPS (04/12/09) pointing out the location of specific CCTV cameras on the alleged Loomis route and urged them to secure evidence of exactly what Loomis vehicle was-travelling westbound along the Al27 towards the M25. The CPS declined to take any action.
Additionally, evidence emerged in an entirely different trial of the location of CCTV and ANPR cameras in Essex on the route taken by the Loomis vehicle. One of four ANPR cameras disclosed in the R v SPEED & Others trial is located at Wilson’s Corner, High Street, Bentwood, which would have recorded the ‘phantom’ Loomis vehicle BW 04 SZX and Smith’s Vauxhall Vectra R 529 VLR in convoy, but this evidence was allegedly suppressed at the trials as it was inconsistent with the premeditated Police/Loomis deception.
Smith and his family have compiled a wealth of detailed and complex data to try to prove that Loomis documentation has been fabricated. A small example is outlined below:
"Bogus Loomis documents were concocted on a non-Loomis computer. This is evident as they are riddled with Time, Speed and Distance ratio anomalies and inconsistencies, including 3 road Atlas spelling mistakes with regard to "Crickiters Way" (sic). Furthermore, when genuine Loomis vehicle documentation is compared to alleged Loomis documentation relating to vehicle BW 04 SZX there are inconsistencies in various aspects which suggest falsification. The two documents are ‘portrait’ versus ‘landscape’ and contain different formats, fonts, and font sizes from those used on allegedly the same day of operation."
More recently, members of Smith’s family have conducted DASH-CAM time and distance research in regard to Loomis documents stating that a 0.6-mile journey in Brentwood was completed in 54 seconds. The family-generated DASH-CAM timings state the quickest time for the journey was 02:35 minutes. But crucially, the time excluded the Loomis crew from exiting their vehicle, conducting security checks, entering the rear of the M&S Store via an intercom system, and walking to the ATM bunker and bleeping in using the barcode system.
The DASH-CAM time/distance research conducted by Smith’s family suggests that it is impossible to travel the 0.6-mile journey in 54 seconds, which suggests that the Loomis documents are falsifications. Smith has compiled an extensive dossier, presented to the CCRC, highlighting numerous aspects of Loomis and police documentation suggestive of bogus or falsified evidence. It appears that this dossier has been ignored and dismissed by the CCRC.
After Smith was convicted and imprisoned, he made a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). After the complaint to the IPCC was submitted on 21 July 2011 three principal BTP detectives (DCS F, DC H and DC C) involved in the investigation and three senior Loomis UK Ltd Managers (Mr's B, S and H) who tendered evidence at the trial and retrial all resigned from the Police Service and Loomis UK Ltd. These individuals all resigned or left their place of work by 5 December 2011, thus ensuring that no IPCC investigation could be completed.
In summary therefore, it is the case that Terry Smith says that the CCRC should investigate his claim that evidence has been fabricated; that the security van that he is said to have reconnoitred was never on the A127 on the day when he is said to have followed it and that a deception was practiced at the ID parade when witnesses were given written directions by the police officer conducting the process. Smith approached the CCRC with the hope that they would make use of their special powers to investigate. As the CCRC boast:
"We have special legal powers to help us investigate cases. We can use these powers to obtain documents that we think are necessary from public and private bodies in England and Wales and Northern Ireland."(CCRC booklet entitled: "Questions and Answers").
In 2019 Terry Smith applied to the CCRC:
There are three key reasons why I wish to make this Application to the CCRC.
Firstly, the Single Judge at the Court of Appeal (HHJ Globe) has refused my Appeal against Conviction based upon compelling fresh police evidence on the sole basis that it was 6 years and 4 months out of time (01/06/2017).
Secondly, there are some other substantive new evidence that was not known at the trial or considered by the Court of Appeal. For example, the fabrication of evidence and attendant resignations from the Police Service by rogue detectives after a formal complaint to the IPCC by the Applicant.
And thirdly, due to close ties with the Establishment, I have little faith in the CCRC, but after reading a book entitled: "UNTOUCHABLES" by Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn (Bloomsberg 2012) in regard to !!Dirty Cops" and “Bent Justice", the authors said this about a victim of miscarriage of justice:
Mr. Egg: 'It was clear that had he not gone to the CCRC when he did, he would still be a convicted prisoner' (p.535).
Hence despite my reservations, I still have hope.
Unfortunately, the CCRC have embarked upon a well-rehearsed process of extinguishing Terry Smith’s hopes.
As we see in so many cases, the CCRC spend their time not investigating the allegations, but trawling through legal precedents and case law to construct a justification for taking no action. Surely, to anyone viewing Smith’s application, a number of points leap out from the page, leading to ‘lurking doubt’ about the safety of his conviction.
1. He and his family have spent a great deal of time on very detailed analysis of the documentary evidence, discovering numerous anomalies suggestive of the fabrication of Loomis documents.
2. Six of the principal police/Loomis witnesses resigned from their jobs as soon as it became apparent that the IPCC had been asked to investigate.
3. The police officer in charge of ID parades avoided scrutiny by submitting a sick note.
4. Police claims about having no CCTV or ANPR evidence are barely credible – in the most surveilled country in the World, how does a security van travel for almost 100 miles without being ‘seen’ by any monitoring cameras?
The case cries out for investigation. The CCRC have told Smith that his case is closed. The reasons given are ‘bog standard’ for the CCRC and revolve around the supposed lack of new evidence. Plus another CCRC favourite cited in their SOR of December 2019:
“We find that there is nothing new of substance in your submissions - they were either argued at appeal or they have no real possibility of leading the Court of Appeal to find your conviction unsafe or change your sentence.
On 8 June 2018 the Court of Appeal also rejected your arguments about which type of vehicle was used by Loomis when you were observed to have followed them. The Court noted at paragraph 15 that, even if it was possible to prove that you were following the vehicle you claimed to be following and not the one identified by the logs, this could not make your conviction unsafe. This is because, as the single judge noted, whether you lied about this point was only one strand of the prosecution's case.”
The CCRC are saying that even if the Loomis staff and the police lied about the specific vehicle that Smith was alleged to have followed, even if copious amounts of documentation were fabricated and even if the ID parade witnesses were given written guidance as to whom to identify, no matter what, the conviction is safe.
On the issue of non-disclosure of evidence the CCRC were equally unimpressed:
“The fact that your legal representatives had to raise issues about disclosure does not of itself mean that your conviction might be unsafe. If your representatives had any reason to believe that there was inadequate disclosure of a nature that risked a miscarriage of justice, it was open to them to make an application to the trial court for further disclosure. If such an application was refused it was open to your defence team to appeal against your subsequent conviction if they considered that it was arguable that the failure to disclose material meant your conviction was unsafe.
We have carefully considered your submissions and appeal documents and we have concluded that there are no grounds to justify us investigating your case further in an attempt to find any errors with disclosure. We have concluded that to do so in these circumstances would be a fishing trip. In any event such investigation would at this distance in time from your trial be unlikely to produce any conclusive results because the retention period for many of the organisations involved in your case will have expired making it virtually impossible to find clear verifiable proof of non-disclosure of relevant evidence.”
What the CCRC are saying is in effect that it takes time, effort, and money to investigate the issues raised by Terry Smith. Looking into the issues raised would not be a “fishing trip” as much of the documentation is already in Smith’s possession and he can give precise instructions as to which documents have been forged. However, it would require an investigation prepared to confront the distinct possibility that police officers committed perjury and that staff at Loomis conspired with the police to fabricate evidence. The CCRC , it seems, has no stomach for such an investigation.
The situation is straightforward. If the vehicle that Terry Smith is alleged to have followed, BW 04 SZX, was not on the road that day, or did not follow the route described by police, then it is new evidence and gives grounds for questioning the veracity of all of the testimony given by any witness who says that Smith was surveilling that vehicle. And, even 12 years later, it could still be possible to discover evidence to confirm whether or not the police and Loomis witnesses told the truth. The CCRC has the power to investigate, it just needs to also have determination to find the truth.
The CCRC stance also misses the point that an investigation that interviewed witnesses may well uncover new evidence. For example, any one of the witnesses may have decided over the years since Smith was convicted that s/he wants to admit to the deceptions required in order to obtain the conviction. For all the CCRC knows, there could be someone willing now to divulge a different version of events, a version that would cause the case to collapse.
Smith also argued in his submission to the CCRC that his indictment was incorrect. The CCRC said on this issue:
"Although the particulars of your indictment did not include reference to the individual robberies outlined in the summing-up, we do not consider that this invalidates your indictment.
However we note that even if the indictment was technically defective this could not lead the Court of Appeal to find your conviction unsafe. The Court of Appeal is not concerned with undue technicalities and would only find that a defective indictment made your conviction unsafe if the error had misled you or prejudiced the conduct of your defence."
Terry Smith has pondered the merits of a judicial review of the CCRC decision and predictably has been warned by the CCRC that they will defend their position strenuously. They have resorted also to ‘nitpicking’ over whether the correct paperwork and procedures have been followed by Smith:
“You have not completed the relevant application form and have adopted a different process to that stipulated. For the avoidance of doubt we will consider a re-application if it is made on the appropriate form.”
Terry Smith was, therefore, left in a position familiar to many applicants to the CCRC. In March 2020 he wrote to the CCRC:
"Please can you help me in regard to my Case Reference No. 00389/2019 which after a full review has left me feeling both confused and confounded over the outcome of the case which was closed down on 4 December 2019.
Quite succinctly, I am confused as in my original submissions at Point 26-29, I explained in some detail how three principal BTP detectives (DCS F, DC H and DC C) involved in the investigation and three senior Loomis UK Ltd Managers (Mr.'s B, S and H) tendered evidence at my trial and retrial all resigned from the Police Service and Loomis UK Ltd directly after my formal complaint to the IPCC was submitted on 21 July 2011. Obviously, this constituted new evidence and new legal argument as the discovery of the resignations occurred post-trial and retrial and sentence and were not mentioned by defence counsel James Scobie QC in any of the appeals.
Bizarrely, despite raising the matter of the Police and Loomis resignations twice, when I received the "Statement of Reasons" signed off by the Commissioner S. Gill, dated 4 December 2019, and closed down. It never mentioned one syllable or word about the probity and integrity of the police investigation. In fact, it was conspicuous by its absence.
Thereafter, I then wrote to the CCRC indicating that I was unhappy with the negative response from the CCRC and stated that I was going to judicially review the decision.
Subsequently, Mr C, a member of the CCRC legal team became involved in the matter and in his letter dated 23 December 2019, he said:
"..(d) The claimant's original submissions include numerous and repeated allegations of misconduct by the police and prosecutors. As is apparent from its decision document, the Commissioner did consider issues relating to the integrity of the investigation and the fairness of the trial process... (Emphasis added).
As we can see, once we get to the judicial review stage of the Application, Mr. C states the Commissioner did consider issues relating to the integrity of the investigation, but after thoroughly reading the "Statement of Reasons" top to bottom, it clearly did not.
In short, I believe there has been serious investigative failings by the CCRC into my submissions which have left me feeling confused and confounded by the very fact that I clearly raised the issue of the Police and Loomis resignations twice, but it does not get a mention in the "Statement of Reasons" and then it is inappropriately inserted in a letter by Mr C when this matter potentially becomes a judicial review matter.
All in all, however, it looks increasingly like, does it not, that there has been a concerted effort by the CCRC to body-swerve this crucial and relevant matter of gross police misconduct and its outcome. Evidence of this can be seen when the CCRC refer to documents it has researched in order to come to its conclusion at Page 7 (The papers we have looked at) in the Statement of reasons which are devoid of any research at the IPCC or the PSDs at BTP or Essex Police.
Not only is this an affront to justice, but it is also an insult to one's access to justice insofar as it makes a mockery of the role the CCRC plays in the British criminal justice system”.
Unfortunately, the CCRC is so used to such an admonition by an applicant that Smith’s acerbic comments would have barely registered at the miscarriage of justice lapdog offices.
The simple fact is that the CCRC very rarely undertakes any investigation, and it lacks experience in doing so. A Freedom of Information request revealed that since the CCRC was established 25 years ago it has undertaken just 134 S15 reviews. A Section 15 review is defined as:
The Criminal Appeal Act 1995, Section 15 says, (1) Where a direction is given by the Court of Appeal under section 23A (1) of the 1968 Act or section 25A(1) of the 1980 Act or by the Court Martial Appeal Court under section 29A(1) of the Court Martial Appeals Act, the Commission shall investigate the matter specified in the direction in such manner as the Commission think fit.]
Therefore, an average of 5 investigative reviews annually at the behest of the Court of Appeal. This does not include any other investigations that the CCRC may have instigated of its own volition. An analysis of CCRC referrals in 2020/21 reveals that out of 70 cases referred only a handful involved anything that could have been regarded as resulting from CCRC investigation.[iii]
The CCRC should acknowledge that it is highly suspect that six witnesses involved in the prosecution resigned from their jobs effectively thwarting any investigation by the IPCC and that the police officer who oversaw the flawed ID process has evaded questioning on her actions. This would surely strike most reasonable people as suspicious. It would not cost very much for the CCRC to employ a documentation examiner to examine the Loomis records to establish whether they are genuine. A comparison with authentic Loomis records would be straightforward and Smith has the relevant documents so there would be no problem in accessing them. If it is found that the Loomis records related to the journey of vehicle BW 04 SZX have been falsified it would raise justifiable concerns and justify further investigation into other aspects of the case.
It is clear from the evidence outlined by Terry Smith of deception in his case that it falls within the remit of the CCRC to investigate the correctness of his conviction. His experience of the prosecution’s use of bogus documentation and false testimony is exactly what the CCRC was established to expose to the Court of Appeal. The Guildford Four were exonerated on similar grounds, i.e. the discovery of falsified documentary evidence and there is no difference in what Terry Smith is asking the CCRC to do in his case.
In the Guildford Four case, detectives investigating the handling of the case found important pieces of evidence in relation to Surrey Police's handling of the Guildford Four and their statements. Typed notes from Patrick Armstrong's police interviews had been extensively edited. Deletions and additions had been made and the notes had been rearranged. The notes and their amendments were consistent with hand-written and typed notes presented at the trial, which suggested that the hand-written notes were made after the interviews had been conducted. The notes presented had been described in court by police officers as contemporaneous records. There are distinct similarities with what Terry Smith has described in relation to the testimony of the police and Loomis employees in his case.
Based on the stance of the CCRC, it is clear that the Guildford Four would have been treated the same way as Terry Smith; the circumstances of their miscarriage of justice would have remained unknown and they would never have gained their freedom. To be an effective ‘watchdog’ the CCRC has to be prepared to investigate, to trawl through dusty cardboard boxes, to evaluate the authenticity of paper records and seek to find supposedly deleted digital records. If the CCRC will not do so they will remain an ineffective failing organisation, easily fobbed off by claims that records are no longer available.
The CCRC should also recognize that Smith has approached and complained to a large number of bodies in an attempt to get someone to investigate his case, e.g. the IPCC, Loomis UK, Security Industry Authority, Information Commissioner, Legal Ombudsman, and other bodies. Such a time consuming and dogged approach does not represent the actions of a guilty man; it is typical of an innocent man to expend great efforts in pursuing justice.
The mere fact that year after year Terry Smith strives to prove his innocence should alert the CCRC to the fact that there may well be something amiss with his conviction.
It seems the case that the former armed robber is not going to be allowed to rehabilitate himself and the CCRC, an organisation that believes every applicant to be guilty[iv], will not relent and undertake the investigation that Terry Smith has requested.
In the meantime, there exists the distinct possibility that the real robbers remain free and dangerous to the public.
[i] For a detailed account of the case please refer to https://justiceforterrysmith.co.uk/ [ii] A Video Identification Parade is a short film which is viewed on a television screen or on a laptop computer. The film is approximately 3 minutes in length and contains a series of head and shoulder video clips. These video clips are made up of the person the Police believe committed an offence and a number of volunteer images who have a similar appearance to the suspect. [iii] CCRC Annual Report 2020/21 page 26. [iv] “Your application to the Commission begins with a presumption of guilt, not innocence” (empowerinnocent.wixsite.com)
By Bill Robertson
Bill Robertson has researched alleged miscarriages of justice for around 20 years and advised on several cases, including the most recent application to the CCRC by Jeremy Bamber.
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