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New twist in Downing case

The campaign to free convicted murderer Stephen Downing has taken another twist.

The discovery of a birth certificate shows the victim, married housewife Wendy Sewell, had a secret love child by another man, according to Matlock Mercury editor Don Hale.

He has been campaigning for a review into the 1973 case and has been getting evidence together to support his view that Downing – still languishing in prison – is innocent.

Downing was a backward youth of just 17, and worked in the cemetery where Mrs Sewell was found. He insisted that he discovered her there after returning from a lunch break and became bloodstained after checking to see if she was still alive, then left to call for help. She died later in hospital.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has agreed to look at a new dossier of information on the case, including allegations about Wendy Sewell’s lifestyle which were not disclosed during the trial.

A birth certificate has been found indicating she had a son five years before her death. The evidence shows he was registered on September 16 with a line in the space for the father’s name and given up for adoption.

The Commission is expected to announce its decision by October.

Don Hale said: “During the trial Wendy was portrayed as an ordinary housewife who worked as a typist. There was no suggestion that she was like this at all.

“The Criminal Cases people are deliberating about her promiscuity but didn’t ever before have this birth certificate that proves she had a child.”

One theory is that Mrs Sewell had a pre-arranged meeting with someone she knew.

BBC Television, Channel Four and a host of national newspapers have already highlighted the progress of this case during the past six years.

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