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Freed prisoner will seek payout
A former postman given a life sentence when convicted of attempted rape in 1997 is set to seek compensation after the Court of Appeal said he could be released in the wake of lawyers raising doubts about forensic evidence.
Three appeal judges today said Victor Nealon, 53 - who is originally from Dublin but was living in Redditch, Worcestershire - could go free, after a hearing in London.
The decision came after the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case to the Court of Appeal.
Judges said they would give reasons for their decision to allow the appeal at a later date.
Mr Nealon was arrested after a woman was sexually assaulted on her way home from a nightclub in Redditch in 1996.
He denied attempted rape but was convicted after a trial at Hereford Crown Court and given a life term.
An appeal in 1998 failed.
Lawyers today said recent forensic tests had revealed DNA traces from another man on clothing - raising fears of a miscarriage of justice.
"Forensic science has moved on since the 1990s but it would appear that exhibits were not fully examined at the time," said Mr Nealon's solicitor, Mark Newby, after today's hearing.
"That's a matter for others to answer for."
He added: "Not enough care appears to have been taken or corners appear to have been cut."
Mr Newby said he expected Mr Nealon to seek compensation.
"I am sure in the New Year he will try to bring a compensation claim," said Mr Newby.
" He is very angry at what has happened to him."
Mr Newby added: "He will have to try and re-build his life."
A friend of Mr Nealon's said the damage could not be repaired.
"The trauma and the damage done is irreversible," said Leo O' Toole, after today's hearing.
"Victor will have to re-build his life. The victim is harmed too. She will have to go back and find out who was responsible. The police will have to re-open the investigation."
He added: "I have been working on Victor's case for a long time. We were confident we would get a better outcome. But you can never be sure. We were very nervous."
Mr O' Toole said Mr Nealon was being held in Wakefield prison in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
"The family he has are in Ireland," said Mr O' Toole. "Members of his family have died since he went to prison. There has been a whole process of change."