Killer cleared of murder jailed

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Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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A man famously cleared of murder after serving 13 years in prison was today jailed for more than 10 years after killing a man.

Tony Poole, 52, was released in June 2003 when Appeal Court judges quashed his conviction for murdering Hensley Wiltshire in January 1989.

But in January last year he killed his friend Martin Stokes, 30, during a fight at a flat in Gloucester.

A jury at Bristol Crown Court acquitted him of murder but found him guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Stokes and of unlawfully wounding another friend, Ben Clark, 47.

Mr Justice Davis imposed a 10-and-a half year term of imprisonment for manslaughter and an 18-month term for wounding, to run concurrently.

As Poole was led away to begin his sentence there were shouts of “murderer” and “I hope you rot in hell” from public gallery.

Poole claimed self-defence, stating he only armed himself with two knives and lashed out kung-fu style – stabbing Mr Stokes in the eye – after fearing he would be attacked himself.

During the three-week trial, the cocaine user, of Melbourne Street East, Gloucester told jurors: “In the world I live in you can stab people if they are going to stab you.”

As Mr Stokes attempted to evade Poole, he fell from the window of the ground floor flat and plummeted into the basement stairwell below.

Poole then stabbed Mr Clark once in the chest before fleeing the property in Nettleton Road, Gloucester, taking the weapons with him.

Witnesses described seeing a bare-chested man with his fists clenched and arms stretched out “like a gorilla” leaving the scene shouting: “If I go down for it, I go down for it”.

Members of the public who rushed to Mr Stokes’ aid saw he was heavily blood-stained and had suffered a serious eye injury.

By the time Mr Stokes arrived at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital he was already unconscious and unresponsive. He died eight days later on January 21.

Poole had originally been jailed with co-defendant Gary Mills for the murder of Mr Wiltshire during a fight at a flat in Conduit Street, Tredworth, Gloucester.

Mr Mills, who died in 2012 aged 53, maintained he had always acted in self-defence after being attacked by Mr Wiltshire while Poole said he never took part in the fight.

They always protested their innocence but refused the chance to be released on licence after serving their minimum 10-year tariffs until their case was re-examined by the courts.

Family and friends launched the Set Up For Life campaign to fight for the men’s release and were successful in June 2003 when the Court of Appeal ruled the convictions were unsafe.

Poole had subsequently won compensation for his ordeal but his trial last year heard the money was running out, having spent it indulging his lifestyle, including “sex parties” involving cocaine and women.

Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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