Two brothers convicted of the brutal killings of a couple 10 years ago are to launch a new bid for freedom after a key witness at their trial was convicted of murder.
The murders of Carol and Graham Fisher, who were shot and bludgeoned to death at their home in North Cornwall on Bonfire Night 2003, shocked the nation. Brothers Robert and Lee Firkins, from Weston-super-Mare, now in their late 30s, were convicted and jailed for life at Exeter Crown Court in January 2006. They were ordered to serve a minimum of 26 years.
Lawyers representing the pair, who consistently denied the murders, confirmed yesterday they are preparing a fresh bid to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
It follows the murder conviction of a man – known only as Witness X – who claimed Robert Firkins confessed to the killings while they shared a cell.
It is claimed Firkins bragged: “Watch Crimewatch and you’ll see my work.”
Solicitor Jane Hickman, who represents Lee Firkins, said: “We will definitely be taking the case back to the CCRC. But for his evidence there would have been no conviction.”
Ms Hickman said she regarded the conviction as “completely unsafe” and described Witness X as a “dangerous, violent and manipulating individual”.
She added: “One of the reasons Witness X gave for giving his evidence was that he had discovered God during his last stay in prison and that having seen the light he wanted to make amends.
“We said at the time that was not believable and that he was motivated by the reward which was being offered by Crimestoppers.”
Carol’s brother Nigel Edwards, who lives in Falmouth, said the family were “shocked” at news of a possible further appeal.
“All we have ever wanted is justice for Carol and Graham and we thought we had that,” Mr Edwards said.
The reliability of Witness X’s evidence, and its importance to the case, has been previously tested at the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights.
After a four-day hearing at London’s Appeal Court in 2008, the brother’s appeals were dismissed by three top judges: Lord Justice Hughes, sitting with Mr Justice Treacy and Sir Peter Cresswell.
While denying the murders, the brothers had admitted a number of offences during a spree of violence in 2003.
In November, Robert Firkins attacked three men in the Grenville Arms pub in Nanpean, near St Austell – spraying two with ammonia.
Two days later, he and his brother went to Clacton, Essex, and caused actual bodily harm to a man called John Garrett while in possession of a shotgun.
The next day, the brothers robbed the B&Q hardware store in Taunton, Somerset, dropping all but £600 of their £1,800 haul.