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Case closed for Matlock Mercury?

For the Matlock Mercury, the final piece of the jigsaw came together this week when Stephen Downing’s murder conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal.

The Matlock paper has been covering the case closely since 1995, when it ran its first exclusive story on the subject, under the headline Innocent or Guilty, and asked the Home Secretary to re-open the case.

As Stephen’s case came to a close Mercury reporter Matt Barlow was at the Court of Appeal shadowing his former editor Don Hale, ready to record the moment the paper had campaigned so hard for and see Stephen Downing officially declared a free man.

With the appeal hearing scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, it looked like it might be a close call for the weekly paper with a Wednesday lunchtime deadline.

However, when the result came through at around 5pm on Tuesday it gave the paper’s editorial team of four a little more time to prepare.

Reporter Gareth Davis said: “We had a big splash on the front-page with Matt’s report from the court, as well as comments from Don Hale and a picture of Stephen outside the court.

“We also had a timeline of the case on pages two and three which included all the key dates from the case right from Wendy Sewell’s wedding, to when Don got involved in the case, to the result on Tuesday.”

  • In the paper’s front page story, Don Hale told readers: “There is a lot more evidence. What was heard in court today is just the tip of the iceberg.

    “I’m calling on Tony Blair to make a statement about getting this case reopened.”

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