Date: 19 April 2016

What is Double Jeopardy?

OJ-Gloves

High profile cases affected by the Double Jeopardy law…..

If you’re a fan of hit BBC drama ‘The People v O.J.Simpson’, you’ll know all about the ins and outs of the OJ Simpson trial (to varying degrees of accuracy and detail) and the implications of the new evidence. However if American serial dramas aren’t your thing you might be wondering what all the fuss is about.

The term ‘Double Jeopardy’ refers to the law which states a person can never be tried twice for the same crime. This law still applies in some countries (including America) but was abolished in the UK after a number of campaigns following murder cases in 2005.

Join us as we take a look at some of the more high profile murders that have been affected by the Double Jeopardy law…

  • OJ Simpson, 1994 – the OJ Simpson case may be the most famous associated with Double Jeopardy. In 1995, Simpson was acquitted in the killing of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, despite strong evidence he was guilty. Years later it came to light that Simpson was writing a book tentatively titled “If I did it” and reportedly including graphic and detailed scenes that “hypothetically” described how the killings might have occurred. The public were outraged and the book was dropped. New evidence has recently been found on his old property which could tie him to the crime but American law still has the Double Jeopardy clause so he won’t be re-tried.
  • Stephen Lawrence, 1993 – this case was a contributor in the Double Jeopardy law changing in the UK. Stephen Lawrence was a young British man from London, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993. Initially 5 suspects were arrested but it was suggested that racial issues affected the quality of the investigation and the murder remained unsolved. The case formed part of the campaign which finally got the Double Jeopardy law changed in the UK and almost 20 years later 2 of the original suspects were re-trialled and subsequently found guilty.
  • Julie Hogg, 1989 – Pizza delivery girl Julie Hogg was just 22 when she was killed in November 1989. Initially the case was treated as a missing person enquiry. However when her mum found her body a suspect was arrested. The following year he was tried twice for killing Julie Hogg, but on both occasions the jury could not decide without reasonable doubt if he had done it. After the second trial, he was formally cleared, giving him the protection of the double jeopardy law. However Julie’s mum refused to accept this outcome and campaigned for the law to be changed. In 2003 she was successful and in 2006 the suspect, Billy Dunlop, was found guilty.

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