Paul Cleeland’s latest attempt to clear conviction for murdering man in Stevenage rejected by judges - Credit: Archant

A pensioner who was convicted of gunning down a man in Stevenage more than 40 years ago has failed in his latest bid to clear his name.

Paul Cleeland, now in his 70s, was convicted in 1973 of shooting Graham Clarke twice as he got out of his Jaguar in Grace Way, close to his home, at about 2am on November 6, 1972.

Last year judges at the Criminal Cases Review Commission refused to refer Cleeland’s case back to High Court for an appeal.

He appealed against this but the decision was upheld by judges today.

Cleeland, who used to live in Four Acres, was friends of Mr Clarke’s and has always protested his innocence.

At his first trial in April 1973 the jury failed to reach a verdict. But at a retrial later that year he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 20 years. He was freed in 1998 and has continued to protest his innocence.

In the case there was no eyewitness evidence against Cleeland, who now lives in Folkestone in Kent, and the only motive put forward by police was that he had an argument with Mr Clarke two years earlier.

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His first appeal was dismissed in 1976, and he has since been to the High Court more than a dozen times trying to get his conviction quashed and a judicial review of his case. But Law Lords have refused to refer the matter back to an appeal court.

A series of anomalies in the evidence against Cleeland persuaded various MPs, including former Stevenage MPs Shirley Williams and Bowen Wells, to call for the case to be reopened.