15 August 2009

Stolen Life: Nico Bento Speaks up and the Failure of the Forensic Science Service


Video: Peter Marshall reports on the case of Nico Bento, an innocent man wrongly convicted of killing his girlfriend Kamila Garsztka on the basis of incorrectly interpreted CCTV footage. via BBC

Stolen Life

Amilton spent two years and four months in jail until he was acquitted of the death of his girlfriend, Kamila.

In a serene tone of voice and without traces of hatred, Amilton assumes “I am not the same”. He is in a hurry to save the past inside himself, a struggle that he fights every day. Sometimes he looses. “It’s just takes a metallic sound similar to the prison metal bars and I’m carried away by thoughts”. The compensation he seeks from the English State will allow the family to pay the debts contracted in exchange of his freedom, of almost 100 thousand Euros [86. 374 pounds]. But it is not the money that will give him the answer to the question that torments him the most: “Why did they want to steal my life?”

When he says “them”, he is pointing the finger to the Bedfordshire Police (who until the closure of this edition did not answer to Expresso) and to the American specialist Casey Cottle, the witness for the prosecution which unbalanced the whole process and lead to Nico’s guilty verdict.

The main evidence against the Portuguese man resumed to a single image recorded by a CCTV street camera which, according to what was revealed by Cottle to the jurors, showed Kamila, at 19h46, walking towards the river carrying a white hand bag. The same one that was later found in Amilton’s apartment, a fact that by itself proved that the boyfriend was the last one to see her. And that he had strangled her close to the lake, even though the autopsy report did not reveal any lesions in the victim’s neck.

To the Court, Nico told a different version. He guaranteed that when he arrived home it was already after 23h, after being with a Portuguese friend, and only then he found the white hand bag and Kamila’s mobile in the bedroom. Various witnesses confirmed his version. Even Kamila’s own family put into question the police investigation; however Casey Cottle’s witness statement seemed irrefutable.

The news of Nico’s sentence to life imprisonment consternates the family and leaves the forensic scientist, John Kennedy, one of the most respected employees of Birmingham’s Forensic Science Service, “shocked”.

“All my life I fought for justice. I could not watch in silence to the destruction of an innocent man”, he tells to Expresso. “The image had no quality. I advised the police to do a reconstruction however they choose to meet Casey, in Las Vegas”.

For two years, Kennedy fought an unsuccessful fight and was target of threats and vilifications. His only option was to resign. “And, even so, they wanted me to sign a document which obliged me to not disclose the case”. He didn’t give in. All that he knew he told to Amilton’s new lawyer, Peter Hughmans, in whom the family placed all the hopes.

In light of these new revelations, the Portuguese was released. Before he could be confronted by the defense, Casey Cottle committed suicide. “With him, died my chance to know why I was persecuted”, laments Amilton. For John Kennedy, the most serious issue is that none of those involved in this case was penalized. “They remain employed and will again do the same to another innocent”.


Extract from "The case of the innocent man condemned to life imprisonment" in Expresso Newspaper

Related: Crown Prosecution Service drops indictment against Portuguese Immigrant



9 comments:

  1. No comments yet.....speachless, no comment....breath-taking.....no comment..... to cry..... no comment.....

    the whole world is one big lie and one big corrupt....(dictionn):
    bende (de)
    n. gang, troop, mob; mess, disorder; mass, abundance, bulk.

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  2. http://amiltonbento.blogspot.com/




    IRONSIDE

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  3. Bravo for Mr. Kennedy, a man of integrity, it's good to know that there are some professionals like him in Britain. Shame on the FSS and the british government, AGAIN!(not surprising...)
    And can you believe that man from the Bedfordshire police saying that the reconstruction that was made by the defense was of questionable value???!!! Oh yes, so questionable that it rendered Mr. Bento free of all charges!!!
    Unbelievable!

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  4. Thank you for this video, very enlightening!It should be on RTP, SIC and TVI, in prime time for all of Portugal to see and end some of our inferiority complexes towards the northern europeans, the british in particular. In the Maddie case, the british insulted our nation, our police and its methods, labeled it third-wordly...well, judging by the actions (or lack of them) of the Bedfordshie police one may ask who's third-wordly then?...
    Now, can I ask if it is possible to make a transcript in portuguese of the whole video, please, for those who are not all that fluent in english? Thank you once more!

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  5. Sorry for the off-topic subject(I've alredy posted two comments regarding this post),but, I feel this is important: have yoy read/heard about the leaflet distributed door to door by "The Madeleine Foundation" ( Tony Bennett ) in Rothley? It is getting strong reactions from the locals and is making news! Any chance of bringing up the subject here, let us see a sample of the leaflet? A lady fron the Foundation e«was interviewed by a BBc program and the lady reporter was so rude to her, constantly interrupting her, hardly lettin her put a word in, explain what the leaflet was all about: FACTS!
    As soon as the lady from the Madeleine Foundation mentioned facts and the police files the reporter interrupted and muffled her words, and the interview was finished due to "no more time"! Bah!

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  6. Sorry, once again. Just checked and the lady from The Madeleine Foundation is Debbie Buttler. I couldn't remember her name before.
    According to some british "rags", the McCanns are under police protection, because the leaflets were so threatning of them!! IMPOSSIBLE! It is known that the Madeleine Foundation leaflet had NO threats against them, only questions and facts, as in the "30 reasons" booklet, from the same foundation. I bet the McCanns are not afraid of the "nutters" from the foundation, but rather from some of their neighbours who might just start opening their eyes to reality... tar and feathers on the way to the house in the Crescent cul-de-sac?...

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  7. So many angry words against the Portuguese Police. One shouldn't spit against the wind... Shameful, shameful business. No profissional pride whatsoever.

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  8. Tragically, this is not the first case of someone being wrongly convicted and imprisoned and it won't be the last.

    I did not remember this case, so took a little time to see what I could find - lots!

    It was abundantly clear that this man was convicted on what a news article described as, a 'grainy piece of cctv footage!'

    I came across the following also:

    'Mr Justice Calvert-Smith told Bento: "It is the finding of that image that has led you to your current position.

    "You set about creating a smoke screen that would divert attention from you, but the plan backfired. Something happened that night at the lake which caused you to lose your temper.

    "I do not believe there was a plan to kill her or even assault her, but something happened to cause you to see red."

    ----

    So based on 'that image' this innocent man was convicted, how horrifying that this could happen based on something so flimsy.

    We can only be thankful that there are persons like John Kennedy out there who are prepared to fight for what is right, at times, at great personal cost.

    It cannot restore for Nino Benco that which is precious to him, that which was taken from him, that part of his life is gone. His freedom he has once more, and to Mr. Kennedy and those who fought for this man, I am sure he will be eternally thankful.

    'For John Kennedy, the most serious issue is that none of those involved in this case was penalized. “They remain employed and will again do the same to another innocent.” '

    I second that!

    A.Miller

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  9. Good evening Joana, something coming out of Australia...Maybe better placed on your Twitter site...

    Murdoch plans to sue Google....hot on the heels of him charging for his online garbage....


    http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2009/08/06/should-murdoch-win-any-lawsuit-against-google/



    IRONSIDE

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