By Jon Slattery
Two men wrongly jailed for more than 14 years for murder have praised the journalist who took up their case after they protested their innocence to their local paper.
Jon Grubb was the deputy news editor of the The Citizen, Gloucester, in 1992 when the paper received a letter from Gary Mills and Tony Poole who were jailed for life in 1990 for the murder of Hensley Wiltshire during a fight at a Gloucester flat.
Mills claimed he acted in selfdefence and Poole said he played no part in the fight. The Court of Appeal quashed their convictions for murder last month and freed them. Grubb, now editor of the ScunthorpeTelegraph, spent two years investigating the men’s claims and it resulted in a five-page special published by The Citizen in 1994 which raised questions over key evidence given at the murder trial, police procedures and the medical evidence.
Mills and Poole have paid tribute to Grubb after being freed by the Appeal Court. Mills said: “Jon Grubb did not presume we were innocent or guilty – he simply examined the facts and investigated our case thoroughly. He is a credit to the journalistic profession and we will always be grateful for the work he put into our case.
” Poole added: “We just want to say thanks to Jon for raising our case. He has always kept in contact with us over the years – even after he left The Citizen. He’s a true journalist of the highest calibre.”
Grubb said: “The Citizen started the whole thing going. We uncovered vast amounts of evidence. All the people at the paper played a huge part in bringing a miscarriage of justice to light.
“We weren’t the only paper to get a letter from people claiming they were innocent and we won’t be the last. In this case there was stuff in the letter that suggested there was some evidence that was worth looking at. It just unfolded from there.”
Grubb interviewed both men’s families, an eyewitness who had never been called to give evidence and a retired doctor who told him of his concerns over the medical evidence given in court.
“I worked on it for three years and many other people have worked on it beyond that. It just become obvious that the investigation was flawed that Tony and Gary should not be inside. We had a small staff at The Citizen but under the then editor, Graham Glen, we devoted a lot of resources to doing big stories well.”
Grubb followed Glen to the Nottingham Evening Post to become his deputy before being made editor at Scunthorpe. He kept in touch with the jailed men and their families after he left Gloucester and has held on to a copy of his five-page special. “I have got it framed and kept it on every office wall I have worked in since I left Gloucester,” Grubb said.