The vital evidence that Janet jury did not hear

The man jailed for the murder of student Janet Murgatroyd was today a free man.

Andrew Phillip Greenwood, of Lostock Hall, Preston, was discharged by the Appeal Court in London.

The 30-year-old had voluntarily confessed to the murder of 20-year-old Janet, who was found floating naked in the River Ribble.

But his manslaughter conviction was overturned today.

Greenwood will not face a retrial after judges ruled evidence should have been heard by the jury about the girl's ex-boyfriend.

Janet Murgatroyd was attacked and killed on June 16 1996 near Penwortham New Bridge as she walked home from a night out.

She was badly beaten, and had drowned in the River Ribble. Her body was found the following day.

More than three years after Janet's death, on August 2 1999, Mr Greenwood, "a stranger to the victim", approached two police officers to confess to murder "following a chance encounter with her".

He was tried at Liverpool Crown Court in October 2002, where the jury failed to reach a verdict.

But he was re-tried in the same court in June last year and was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years.

His appeal against conviction was "mainly" relating to a ruling by Mr Justice Holland who heard the case that "certain admissions and other evidence about a man which had formed part of the evidence at the first trial were not admissible."

These admissions. which the Crown permitted at the second trial, including that Janet's ex-boyfriend John Parkinson was married to another woman who divorced him, making allegations of violence and rape against him.

Also Janet's blood was found on a pair of his boxer shorts recovered from his home.

The court heard that a pair of knickers found in a search of Parkinson's home revealed "a diffuse area of blood staining in the crotch" and that a DNA comparison matched a sample taken from the deceased.

Lord Justice Waller, announcing the decision, said: "As regards the knickers, it may well be that the admissions about them would have given the jury a misleading impression and that was very much a matter for the Crown.

"But one can see just the possibility that if the defence was not prepared to act in a way which avoided the jury being given a misleading impression, the circumstances might have arisen where the jury would have to make some ruling

"But the important point is that it cannot have been right to take away from the jury's consideration all aspects of Parkinson, including that he had been the victim's boyfriend and had acted violently to her in the past and indeed was in the vicinity on the evening of her murder."

He concluded: "It seems to us impossible to hold that this conviction was safe."

A spokesman for Lancashire Police today said: "We are aware of the court's decision today to release Andrew Greenwood. We will not be looking for anyone else in connection with Janet's murder and we will not be pursuing any more evidence against Andrew Greenwood."

Peter Roberts, of O'Donnell's solicitors in Preston, represented Greenwood. Today he was convinced the right decision has been made.

He said: "The Court of Appeal this morning quashed the conviction of Andrew Philip Greenwood for manslaughter following the death of Janet Murgatroyd in June 1996.

"We are obviously delighted with the ruling and were always confident that we would get this conviction quashed.

"Our thoughts however are also with the Murgatroyd family as the search continues to find Janet's killer.

"Although we were always confident of getting the conviction quashed Andrew become so low that he did at one point convince himself that he had done killed Janet which is why it has taken so long to prove his innocence.

"I haven't spoken to him today but I am sure his mood will be one of relief that this nightmare is over."

Part-time police clerk Janet was described as a bubbly and vivacious student and had been out with friends in Preston the day before.

The city was celebrating the England/Scotland Euro '96 match in pubs and Janet was among them.

After a day and night of drinking she was last seen walking along Fishergate towards the home she shared with her divorced mum in Broad Oak Green in Penwortham.

The fun-loving 20-year-old never made it. Instead she was battered to death and thrown into the Ribble at Priory Park, a short walk from home. He body was found washed up 12 hours later.