Alleged Miscarriages of Justice > Siôn Jenkins and the murder of his adopted daughter Billie-Jo.

Introduction to the Siôn Jenkins case

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John:
On 2 July 1998 Siôn Jenkins was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his foster daughter Billie-Jo Jenkins. On 9 February 2006, after two appeals and two retrials he was finally acquitted. He had spent six years in prison, and from the outset had consistently maintained his complete innocence.

There were always serious concerns about the verdict, and many unanswered questions about the conduct of the case. In April 1999 this website was launched with the aim of reversing a serious miscarriage of justice. It was dedicated to a detailed analysis of the case.


 
   Siôn Jenkins         Victim Billie-Jo Jenkins

John:
The Background

On 15 February 1997, a Saturday afternoon, at approximately 3.30pm, 13-year-old Billie-Jo Jenkins was battered to death. She suffered an untold number of blows to the head which shattered her skull. The killer left behind his weapon, an 18-inch metal tent spike, which was lying by her head. Billie-Jo was not sexually assaulted; nor was the house broken into or burgled. The doctor called to the scene said that in 26 years as a police surgeon it was the most brutal murder he had ever attended.

Siôn and Lois Jenkins lived in Lower Park Road, Hastings, with their four daughters—Annie (then 12), Lottie (10), Esther (9) and Maya (7). They had moved there in 1993 from Bow, East London, where they had acquired a fifth daughter, Billie-Jo, a school friend of Annie’s, whom they took into foster care and who moved with them to Hastings when Siôn was appointed deputy head of William Parker boys’ comprehensive school.

There had been a number of incidents in the area during past months. In the immediate vicinity of the Jenkins’ home, there had been 41 crimes in Lower Park Road and 25 in Alexandra Park opposite. In 1996, two young girls were sexually assaulted and two people murdered in Hastings. So the murder of Billie-Jo was straightaway linked to these other local crimes, as well as to the deaths of Lin and Megan Russell in Chillenden, Kent. Police described the attack as “vicious and frenzied”and the killer as “evil and deranged”.

The house next door to the Jenkins’ was derelict and had been boarded up for 18 months. “Police believe that [the killer] hid behind a hedge in the garden next door watching Billie-Jo”, reported the Mirror, “and lay in wait until the family went out”. Detective Superintendent Jeremy Paine said, “It would have been easy for the killer to pick the tent peg up.”

From the very beginning, the murder became a high-profile news story. The papers reported that police were looking for a man with a scar or birthmark across his face, who had been seen acting strangely in the area on the day of the murder.

Within a few days, however, police attention had shifted instead to Siôn Jenkins. He was arrested on 24 February 1997 and charged with Billie-Jo’s murder on 14 March 1997. He was found guilty on 2 July 1998 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He has always protested his complete innocence.

John:
What Happened (According to Siôn Jenkins)

On that Saturday, at the end of the half-term holiday, Lois took Annie, Esther and Maya shopping to Safeway’s. Later on she telephoned Siôn to say that she couldn’t pay for the groceries as she’d forgotten her cheque-book, and asked him to bring it for her. When he got there, they realised that he’d taken an old book with no cheques left in it. So he had to return home and go back again to Safeway’s with a current cheque-book.

They then all returned home. Lottie, who’d been at the cinema with friends, was taken to a clarinet class with another friend by Mrs A, that friend’s mother. Siôn and Lois then arranged that while Lois took Esther and Maya for a walk on the beach, Siôn would pick up Lottie from her clarinet class. As it happened, he didn’t know where that was, so they drove round so that Lois could point out the house to him.

While Lois went to the beach, Siôn set the older children to doing household tasks: Annie cleaned out a storeroom (and, in doing so, placed three metal tent pegs, originally used to secure an old garden swing, on the coal bunker in the garden); and Billie-Jo swept the patio.

Siôn then took Annie with him to fetch Lottie, leaving Billie-Jo painting the patio doors. They picked up Lottie, and also took her friend home. Mrs A. estimated that they dropped her daughter off at about 3.15–3.20.

When they got home. Siôn realised they would need some white spirit and so, taking Annie and Lottie with him, drove to Do-It-All.

Having arrived there, he realised that, exactly like Lois earlier in the day, he’d forgotten to take any means of payment with him, so it was another wasted journey.

They returned home, and went into the house.

Billie-Jo was lying in a pool of blood on the patio. Siôn went in, crouched down beside her, and ushered the two distraught children out of the room. He examined her more carefully, and immediately made a 999 call for an ambulance. He then telephoned a neighbour. Eight minutes after the first 999 call, at her suggestion, he made another.

As the ambulance men came, he went outside to his car, and got in, momentarily wondering whether he should put the hood up as it looked like rain. He quickly went back inside.

Later, Lois was contacted and they all left home to stay with neighbours while police combed their house and garden for clues.

John:
What Happened (According to the Prosecution)

After a day of “frustration and irritation”, Jenkins returned from picking up Lottie from her music lesson, saw Billie-Jo at work on the patio doors and become instantly enraged, either because her work was slapdash, or because she was playing the radio too loudly, or for a combination of such reasons.

He therefore picked up the metal tent spike and, in a fit of uncontrollable fury, bludgeoned her to death, even though Annie and Lottie were around at the time and could have caught him in the act just by wandering in.

The prosecution could offer no real motive for him to have behaved in this way, and suggested that it would always remain a mystery.

puglove:
Billie-Jo had a piece of black bin liner pushed into one nostril. There was a mentally-ill man, well known locally, in the vicinity at the time. He had a fixation with pushing pieces of bin liner up his nose.

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