Confession by retarded man is ruled out (27.03.93)

The Independent, 27th March 1993

Edward Gough, 25, who had been charged with conspiracy to seriously sexually assault and indecently assault Jason Swift immediately prior to his death in 1985, was given two years’ probation for a series of lesser offences.

 Judge Lawrence Verney ruled that police interviewing Gough when he confessed to being present during the killing had breached guidelines in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

 He said that Gough, who was found to have an IQ of about 76, should have been accompanied by an ”appropriate adult” during questioning. The police were not to blame because they had no knowledge of the suspect’s impaired mental state. Gough had stated that he did not want a solicitor present.

 The judge said: ”At the time of the crucial interview, the tenth in one day, it is likely that stress and fatigue could have lowered his intelligence to the retarded range. In that interview there was considerable potential for strain. Gough was feeling tired and said so.”

 Four people found guilty of the manslaughter of Jason Swift were jailed for sentences ranging from 13 to 19 years at the Old Bailey in May 1989. The schoolboy’s dead body was dumped in the Essex countryside and then covered with leaves after he had been drugged and sexually assaulted. Gough, a painter of Hoxton, east London, had also been charged with manslaughter, but this was dropped.

 Yesterday Gough admitted three burglaries and one attempted burglary in 1991.

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