Man jailed for sex abuse over 20 years ago walks free from court
A man who was jailed for sexually abusing a teenage girl over 20 years ago walked free from court yesterday after appeal judges ruled his conviction unsafe.
Eric John Greenwood was sentenced to four years in prison seven months ago after he was found guilty of assaulting a girl in Leicester.
However, the conviction was quashed yesterday following an appeal hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London.
Three senior judges ruled that the original trial judge had "misdirected" the jury before it retired to consider its verdict.
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Mr Greenwood, 61, who used to live in Leicester and now lives in Devon, watched from the dock as his conviction was overturned.
He was able to walk free from the court because the Crown Prosecution Service did not ask for a retrial.
Mr Greenwood had stood trial at Leicester Crown Court in March along with his brother, Michael, who was then aged 55 and living in Bateman Road, New Parks, Leicester.
The brothers were accused of a series of sexual offences against young girls during the 1980s and 1990s.
They denied the charges.
Eric Greenwood was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Michael Greenwood, who was not involved in yesterday's Court of Appeal hearing, was convicted of two specimen charges of raping two girls and four charges of indecently assaulting one of them. He was jailed for 20 years.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Keith, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Judge Brian Barker QC, said the trial judge had misdirected the jury, making Eric Greenwood's convictions unsafe.
Mr Greenwood's legal team said a series of mistakes made by the judge in summing up the case had made his trial unfair.
The appeal court was told the judge had not given the jury adequate help on how to consider Mr Greenwood's "good character" and alleged "lies" he told in his police interview.
Mr Justice Keith said he and the other appeal court judges agreed that the trial judge's "flawed" directions were not sufficient to give the jury the help they were entitled to.
He said: "Can it be said that those flaws undermine the safety of the appellant's convictions?
"Had the directions on lies stood alone, it may be that we would have doubted whether the flaw in the direction would have undermined the safety of the appellant's convictions.
"But, when coupled with the more serious misdirection on how the jury was to approach the appellant's good character, the scales are tipped the other way."
The brothers' trial heard that one of Michael Greenwood's victims was nine years old when he first abused her.
The abuse continued and culminated with him raping her from the age of 14. She later became pregnant by him.
Eric Greenwood was orignally convicted of two charges of indecently assaulting the same girl when she was aged 14 or 15.