A convicted murderer who was told he will probably die in prison after he was convicted of a horrific knifepoint sex attack while out on licence is appealing against the convictions.
Kenneth Mark Shirley, 43, was back living in the community, working stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s, when he is alleged to have attacked a woman in her own home in Bristol in December 2005.
Last September, Shirley, originally jailed for a murder in Cardiff in 1987, was caged for life after he was found guilty at Bristol Crown Court of wounding and numerous counts of rape and sexual assault.
The pervert’s case was back in court in front of three senior judges in London today, as his legal team began a bid to overturn the most recent convictions, on the basis that they are “unsafe”.
His barrister, Sally O’Neill QC, told the president of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir John Thomas, that the failure of the crown court judge to sum up the defence properly meant the trial was unfair.
“It should have been done at some stage in some way, and it wasn’t,” she said. “The failure to identify the potential defence points, whatever their status, overall makes the summing up unfair.”
Shirley was caged for life for the ritualistic murder of 67-year-old Mary Wainwright in Cardiff in 1987 and convicted again of a violent and prolonged sex attack on a Bristol woman in 2009.
The intervening 2005 incident did not come to light until the victim, also from the Bristol area, went to police after he was sentenced in 2009 and told of her alleged ordeal at his hands.
After a meeting in a pub, she said he turned up at her home in a white van, burst in wearing a mask and subjected her to a prolonged and horrific sexual ordeal, stabbing her several times.
Shirley did not give live evidence at his trial, but denied the attack. The jury were left having to decide whether there had been any attack at all and whether the alleged victim correctly identified Shirley.
Miss O’Neill today criticised the emphasis the judge put on the suggestion that, having worked at a supermarket, Shirley had access to a van. He was a shelf-stacker and was unlikely to get near a vehicle, she said.
“Although it was a vague possibility that he could have had access to the van, it was so unlikely as to be evidence that was almost worthless,” she told the judges.
“We submit it was elevated by the references by the learned judge to evidence of some considerable importance, whereas its value was really very limited and almost speculative.”
Sir John, who heard today’s appeal with Mr Justice Wilkie and Mr Justice Jay, will give his decision on Shirley’s challenge at a later date.