Ex-RAF officer loses murder appeal bid
A CONVICTED wife killer has lost his four-and-a-half-year battle to win freedom and clear his name.Former RAF officer Nick Tucker, jailed for life for killing his wife Carol by driving their car into the River Lark close to their Suffolk home, has had his second appeal hearing bid rejected by a panel of experts.
By James Mortlock
A CONVICTED wife killer has lost his four-and-a-half-year battle to win freedom and clear his name.
Former RAF officer Nick Tucker, jailed for life for killing his wife Carol by driving their car into the River Lark close to their Suffolk home, has had his second appeal hearing bid rejected by a panel of experts.
For his fight to continue, Tucker must now come up with fresh evidence strong enough to convince the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to take up his case again or persuade judges the latest decision was flawed.
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Tucker's fiancée, Jenny Peacock, who has campaigned for his freedom since he was jailed, last night vowed the fight to have the conviction overturned would continue.
But she admitted the latest news - the former squadron leader's attempt to clear his name was turned down by the CCRC at the weekend - was a “devastating” setback.
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She said: “We were devastated - we were very confused and bewildered by the decision. We were shattered. I haven't seen Nick since last Wednesday but he phoned me on Saturday with the decision and was very upset.
“But now we're more angry. We have put forward so much evidence contradicting everything they (the prosecution) put and the commission has just ignored it. The fight goes on - we will go for a judicial review but it's difficult to know where to go with the evidence from here.
“Our plans (to get married) have been put on hold again. We have lost so many years of our lives I am wondering how much longer this will have to go on.”
Mrs Peacock said Tucker's son, James, who lives with her at her home in Thetford, was also angry with the decision.
Tucker had hoped a review of the case, coupled with new evidence submitted by his lawyers, would persuade the commission to grant an appeal even though an original attempt to win leave to appeal failed in 1998.
But the commission's head of information David Brittin last night said: “He (Tucker) has not come up with any reasons which would convince us to believe that the Court of Appeal would find the original conviction unsafe.
“There must be a 'real possibility' that the Court of Appeal would find the conviction unsafe and we haven't found that to be the case here.”
He said a 74-page Statement of Reasons outlining the case and the reasons behind the recommendation that Tucker should not be granted an appeal was put before a panel of commissioners who then made the final decision to reject the bid.
The high-profile case, which attracted national interest when it was heard at Norwich Crown Court, was taken up by the CCRC after fresh evidence allegedly throwing doubt on Tucker's conviction was uncovered by Channel 4's Trial and Error programme.
But the decision, which comes six months after the commission announced its preliminary decision to reject the case for appeal, leaves the former RAF Honington serviceman little scope to continue his battle for freedom.
Tucker, who is serving his life sentence in Cardiff, can try to win a Judicial Review of the commission's handling of the case by arguing that the process was flawed. Mr Brittin said 20 people had tried to win a Judicial Review but, so far, no-one had succeeded.
Alternatively, he could come back to the commission with fresh evidence. But Mr Brittin stressed: “It would have to be new evidence that we have not examined this time. This can't go on forever.”
Tucker was jailed for life after a jury found him guilty of drowning his 52-year-old wife in the River Lark at Lackford, near Bury St Edmunds.
The couple's car, driven by Tucker, veered off the A1101 and careered into the icy waters below as they returned to their home at RAF Honington after a meal out at the Red Lion in Icklingham.
The jury found Tucker, now 52, had intentionally killed his wife following an affair with Serbian interpreter Dijana Dudokovic while on UN peacekeeping duty in Croatia.
But he always maintained his innocence, claiming his wife's death was the result of a tragic accident as he swerved to avoid a deer.
The prosecution case hinged on samples of blood taken from Tucker's Fiesta - samples they insisted were transferred by Tucker himself before he drowned his wife.
But Mrs Peacock claimed the CCRC had ignored fresh evidence suggesting dozens of people at the scene that night could have transferred the blood.
She said she was also angry the commission had disregarded the view of a leading neurologist who said Tucker would have been knocked out by the collision and, therefore, could not have killed his wife.