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Pirates shot my husband. But the wrong man is in jail and the Met is to blame

It has been 11 years since Judith Tebbutt’s husband, David, was shot dead and she was abducted by Somali pirates from a luxury Kenyan resort on what should have been a dream holiday.

Rarely a week goes by without the former social worker thinking of Ali Kololo, the only man convicted in relation to the murder and kidnapping, and the death sentence handed to him in 2013.

But Tebbutt, now 67, from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, bears the Kenyan woodcutter no malice. Instead, she is supporting his imminent bid for freedom, and believes he was made a “scapegoat” by Scotland Yard detectives who failed to track down her true attackers.

“I believe he is an innocent man and he should be freed,” she said before an appeal due to be heard at the Court of Appeal in the coastal Kenyan town of Malindi. “I know for sure that he wasn’t part of that group that took me that night. You could go so far as to say he was a bit of a scapegoat . . . when he was put in prison.

“The people that took me are still out there . . . [are] free. Whereas Mr Kololo, who I believe didn’t have anything to do with the death or my abduction, has been in prison [Shimo La Tewa in Mombasa] for the last 11 years.”

Tebbutt’s anger towards the Metropolitan Police team that aided Kenyan investigators following the murder and kidnapping was partly supported by a ruling by the police watchdog in the summer. The senior investigating officer “would have a case to answer for gross misconduct” in relation to evidence he provided to the trial in Kenya in 2013, the ruling by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found.

The watchdog’s investigation in conjunction with the National Crime Agency also found that there was “suspicion” that the former detective chief inspector Neil Hibberd “may have committed a criminal offence”, although it was later decided not to refer his case to prosecutors.

The human rights charity Reprieve, which is supporting Kololo’s appeal, also claimed that Hibberd, who was a key prosecution witness, relied on a statement the defendant made after being tortured. “The result . . . is that a distorted and highly prejudicial account of events was put before the court, which clearly contributed to the finding of guilt and inevitable consequent imposition of a death sentence,” Reprieve’s complaint said. The IOPC did not examine this allegation. Kololo’s death sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, said: “Ali Kololo has spent a decade in prison for a crime he should never have been convicted of, following a seriously flawed investigation and a trial that did not meet basic standards of fairness. Although this miscarriage of justice can be remedied, nothing can repair the damage done to him and his family.” Read the full story in The Sunday Times.