Although Nick Pinkney was convicted of the offence, he never admitted it, and was convicted after hours of deliberation by a jury (after he had pleaded 'not-guilty')Charlotte Pinkney was abducted by an ex-boyfriend and has never been seen since.
An initial search by the EVRD revealed a 'classic' secondary deposition site near to a sighting of the suspect in suspicious circumstances.
The investigative team distrusted the dogs opinion until a full forensic search revealed a small button off of the girls clothing in long grass.
This evidence was put to the suspect who fully admitted the offence.
And that button: it was not found in long grass at all; it was found in the dust-bag of a vacuum cleaner:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/jul ... -nick-rose
In the week leading up to her 17th birthday in 2004, Charlotte Pinkney was seen all over her home town of Ilfracombe in north Devon. She was spotted drinking in a local pub, strolling with her boyfriend, hanging around near a local beach, sitting in a car and wandering through the town centre. All of which was perfectly normal behaviour - except she was supposed to be dead at the time of all of these sightings, killed by 22-year-old Nick Rose after she rejected his advances.
When Rose stood trial for her murder in February 2005, the crown's case was that he had killed her in the early hours of Saturday 28 February the previous year after giving her a lift from a house party. She was dead by 6:30am that morning, the case said. The prosecution conceded that if she was, or might have been, alive after that time, Rose was not guilty. But there was no postmortem to confirm a time of death: Pinkney's body has never been found. All the evidence suggesting Rose's guilt was circumstantial.
The jury convicted Rose by a majority of 11 to one after 25 hours of deliberations, deciding that the five defence witnesses who swore they saw Pinkney alive after Rose was alleged to have killed her were mistaken. But since the conviction, a further four people have come forward to say they too saw Pinkey in the five days after she left the party. One of the original five witnesses says that when he made his statement, police told him he was "putting a spanner in the works".
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Evidence from seven of the witnesses was considered in the court of appeal in 2006, but the judges decided they were mistaken, and refused Rose an appeal. One of the sightings, on the Tuesday after the Saturday Rose was supposed to have murdered Pinkney, took place in full view of CCTV cameras, but police said they erased the footage.
All nine witnesses have stuck to their guns and are prepared to give evidence should Rose succeed in his application for a retrial, which his solicitor hopes will happen after the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) agreed to look into his case. But while the CCRC carries out its investigation, Rose is in Wakefield prison, serving a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 20 years. It is punishment for a murder he insists he did not commit.
It has always been Rose's case that after leaving the party on 28 February, he dropped Pinkney by a nearby community centre and had no idea what happened to her after that. Some people interviewed by police said she turned up later at another party, but their evidence was not put to the jury.
Rose says that as he drove away, he headed off the main road and towards a reservoir after he thought he saw the lights of a police car. As a disqualified driver, he knew he would be in trouble if he got caught behind the wheel again. He hid the car in a tunnel, and climbed up the embankment through some brambles and clambered on top of a hut to check that the police had gone. That's why police found his lighter there after his arrest; the brambles explained the scratches on his arms and legs. (The jury heard evidence from one of Rose's friends who said she saw deep scratches on the side of his neck, but when Rose was examined by a police doctor - whose findings were not put to the jury - no evidence of fingernail scratches was found. In a police photograph of Rose taken after his arrest only fine scratches on his arms were visible.)
Other prosecution evidence included a statement from Rose's casual girlfriend, Kimberley Kelly, who said the day after he was alleged to have committed the murder, she and Rose went to Lee Bay, a spot a few miles from Ilfracombe. Police suggested he was looking for somewhere to bury the body; Rose claims he was looking for drugs he had heard were stashed there. In her statement, Kimberley said she spent that night with him and most of the following week, and that he was his usual self.
Murder convictions where there is no body aren't as unusual as people think. The Crown Prosecution Service doesn't hold figures, but a spokeswoman estimates there are two or three every year in England and Wales. In such trials, the prosecution often relies on DNA evidence to suggest that a killing took place. In Rose's case, tiny blood spots were found in the car he had been driving, and also on the tongue of his trainer. The blood belonged to Pinkney.
On the surface of it, the blood could well point to Rose's guilt. But he insists there could be an entirely innocent explanation. Pinkney was a cocaine user, and such blood specks could have been caused by her sneezing. If he had killed her, why didn't he clean the boot of the car, where the prosecution allege he stashed his victim's body? Before his arrest, he did clean the car, but left the boot untouched. This would seem an illogical move for someone trying to cover up a murder, his legal team says. Also, Pinkney had been in the car on numerous occasions, since the car was used by many members of a group of friends which included Rose, so the blood could be old.
As for the blood on the trainer, unused witness statements made to police after Pinkney's disappearance say that she had fought with another girl at the party, and blood could have landed on Rose then.
Rose's family say that the amount of blood was exaggerated by prosecutors in the trial; pictures showing the miniscule size of the spots were never shown to the jury. According to Rose's mother, Kay, "the jury were given the impression the car was covered in blood [but] the traces were tiny".
Another piece of evidence used to convict Rose was a small piece of elastic found in the car, which the prosecution claimed belonged to a pair of thong knickers Pinkney was wearing to the party. But none of her DNA was on the elastic and it was torn in a way which would be impossible in a struggle. At the original trial a couple staged a tussle over a similar piece of material, and proved it wouldn't break like that. A Lonsdale handbag said to belong to Pinkney was found near the reservoir but, again, none of her DNA was present. That was also the case with a boot discovered a month after her disappearance near Rose's house, and a button discovered in a vacuum cleaner belonging to the girl whose car Rose had been driving.
It is a very unusual case, as Rose's solicitor Campbell Malone points out.
"I find this an extraordinary conviction in many ways. The case against Nick was a circumstantial one with a relatively narrow window of time in which to have murdered this unfortunate young woman. There is compelling evidence that she was alive well after that window closed and a lot of local concern that an innocent man has been locked up for a crime he did not commit."