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Protest march planned for Bakewell convict

A march to protest at Stephen Downing’s continued detention, after serving more than 10 years beyond his recommended prison tariff, is being planned for Bakewell on Saturday January 20.

On the same day the Crown Prosecution Service must give its response to Downing’s bail application – which could see him set free after being convicted of an horrific murder 27 years ago.

Derbyshire man Downing (44), had his last application turned down in controversial circumstances last month after being given leave to appeal against his conviction – a move that denied him the opportunity of Christmas at home for the first time since 1972.

Despite always protesting his innocence, he was convicted and ordered to be detained at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ for the murder of Mrs Wendy Sewell in Bakewell’s cemetery in September 1973.

Matlock Mercury editor Don Hale, who has received accolades for his campaign to free Downing, is also waiting on the news.

In addition to the march, which will call for Downing’s freedom, campaigners have collected more than 6,000 signatures nationwide calling for his immediate release and a review of his case by an independent police force.

It will be presented to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street this month.

Don Hale said: “At the last hearing, Justice Crane agreed to a further delay and allowed the CPS until January 20 to present a ‘definitive view’ on the matter.

“If the CPS does not oppose bail, then Downing could be released immediately under agreed bail conditions that will permit his freedom until the case is presented before the Court of Appeal in several months time.

“However, if objection is made, the CPS must formally present itsreasons and face a further legal challenge before the High Court at the endof January or early February.”

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