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Man, 24, cleared after 7 years in prison

May 17, 2012 at 2:16 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, May 17 (UPI) -- A London man who spent seven years in prison after being convicted of murder at age 18 was released Wednesday.

Sam Hallam, 24, was expected to be formally exonerated Thursday, The Guardian reported. A prosecutor said Wednesday the government would not oppose his appeal or release.

The victim, Essayas Kassahun, 21, was killed in a gang fight in 2004. His lawyer, Henry Blaxland, blamed police and the Crown Prosecution Service for relying on two eyewitnesses who changed their stories, and failing to investigate Hallam's alibi.

"I am just shocked. I knew this would happen, he should never have been in there," Hallam's mother, Wendy Cohen, said. "My family has gone through hell, it is like we were all being tortured. Sam's father killed himself while he was inside, all of us have suffered."

Hallam's supporters included the actor Ray Winstone. In an interview Wednesday evening on ITV, Winstone said police conduct in the case should be investigated.

"For me it is the disgraceful unprofessional action of the police involved in this case, action that has caused a terrible stress within the family of the Hallams," he said.

Topics: Ray Winstone
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