Gun killer says he has fresh evidence to overturn his conviction

The man accused of murdering paperboy Carl Bridgewater says he has fresh evidence he should not have been convicted of another murder.

Bert Spencer at the time of his conviction for the murder of Hubert Wilkes
Bert Spencer at the time of his conviction for the murder of Hubert Wilkes

Bert Spencer, now 83, was jailed for life at Stafford Crown Court in 1980 for the murder of his friend, farmer Hubert Wilkes.

He served 15 years in prison for the crime, and has been repeatedly named as a suspect for the unsolved murder of Wordsley newspaper boy Carl in 1978.

Mr Spencer, who was an ambulanceman based at Corbett Hospital in Stourbridge, says he has new evidence which shows the shooting of Mr Wilkes was not a premeditated act.

He said that his conviction for murder, rather than manslaughter, hinged on claims by a witness that he had befriended the farm dog so that he could get past it on the night he committed the shooting.

But Mr Spencer said he had evidence that the dog was not present on the night of the shooting.

He also says disclosure of this witness statement was not given to the defence team during the trial.

Mr Spencer, who now lives near Spalding in Lincolnshire, says he is close to submitting the papers to lodge an appeal. He launched a crowd-funding appeal to raise money for his legal costs.

Mr Spencer shot 70-year-old Mr Wilkes at Holloway Farm in Prestwood, near Stourbridge, in December, 1979, at a party to celebrate Spencer's 40th birthday.

He admitted shooting his friend, but said he should have been convicted of manslaughter rather than murder.

He said he would also be producing psychiatric reports from an expert at HM Prison Winson Green which showed diminished responsibility.

The shooting took place just weeks after four men were jailed for killing 13-year-old Carl.

The schoolboy had been delivering a newspaper to Yew Tree Farm, also in Prestwood, in September 1978 when he was shot at point-blank range.

For a time, Mr Spencer was chief suspect for the murder, but was ruled out after providing an alibi that he was at work at Stourbridge's Corbett Hospital at the time Carl was killed.

Three men, cousins Vincent and Michael Hickey and Jim Robinson were convicted of Carl's murder after a trial at Stafford Crown Court in November, 1979. A fourth man, Patrick Molloy, was jailed for 12 years for manslaughter. Molloy died in prison from a heart attack two years later. All four had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal in February, 1997.

Since then, Mr Spencer has regularly been the subject of allegations that he was responsible for Carl's murder, including the 2016 television programme Interview With A Murderer, which cast doubt on his alibi.

Mr Spencer suffered a stroke two weeks after the programme was broadcast. He also blamed the stress of the accusations for a heart attack he suffered in 2018.

Police told Mr Spencer in March 2017 that they would not be taking any action against him after looking at the allegations in the television programme.

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