How we teamed up with South Yorkshire Police for history-making double jeopardy, double murder trial

HULL

18 Jun 2021

The double murder trial following the deaths of Samantha Class and Alena Grlakova has made history as the first ever ‘double jeopardy’ case involving Humberside Police.

Gary Allen – who was yesterday convicted of the murders of both women – had previously been tried for the murder of Samantha in Hull in 1997, and subsequently acquitted.

Our Major Crime Team had conducted two cold case reviews of Samantha’s murder, once in 2009 and then again in 2012, with the aim of uncovering more evidence which could either prove or disprove Gary Allen’s involvement in Samantha’s death.

When South Yorkshire Police’s (SYP) Major Crime Unit identified Allen as a suspect in the Alena murder investigation in 2019, our teams joined forces to explore the possibility of quashing the previous acquittal.
Detective Chief Inspector Christine Calvert
DCI Christine Calvert, senior investigating officer (SIO) for Samantha’s murder: “From the moment SYP got in touch with us to say they had a murder with Gary Allen as their suspect, myself and their SIO, DCI Mark Oughton, have remained in really close contact. We’ve kept each other updated on our processes, assisted with each other’s investigations and ensured a synonymous and thorough approach, avoiding any duplication of work.

“It’s a really unique position to be in where you have to work so closely with another force, but it is through that joint working and the support of our partners that we have been able to secure convictions.”

DCI Mark Oughton, the senior investigating officer in SYP’s case, said: “There were striking similarities between the two cases: the fact they were both sex workers, they had both been strangled, they were victims of alcohol-fuelled attacks, and their bodies had both been deposited in water. It was these grim parallels which formed a starting point for pursuing a double jeopardy trial.”

Further doubt was cast on Allen’s previous acquittal due to admissions he had made to undercover officers as part of our covert operation – called Operation Misty – in 2011. In secret recordings, Allen had admitted murdering Samantha and showed no remorse for his dreadful crime.

Armed with this new and compelling evidence, both SIOs sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service on how to build the best possible double murder, double jeopardy case to take to court.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton
DCI Oughton said: “The advice from an early stage was that a joint murder trial - for the Rotherham and Hull cases - would give the best chance of a conviction. But that was easier said than done.

"The primary objective was to secure justice for both families, who had been devastated by Gary Allen's actions more than two decades apart. However, the timetable was daunting, and not clear-cut, with gigantic legal hurdles to overcome.

"I can clearly remember the look on DCI Calvert’s face when the Court of Appeal told us we'd have to review 18,000 documents in the space of a few weeks. It was a Herculean task, achieved only through close partnership working between both forces and investigation teams."

Following a colossal amount of work, our teams met the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Max Hill at the Court of Appeal, and successfully overturned Allen’s previous acquittal for Samantha’s murder.

DCI Calvert continued: “This was a major moment for Humberside Police, and for a family which had awaited justice for more than 20 years.

"There is never going to be a happy ending in a case like this, and nothing we can do will ever bring either of these women back to their families. However, we’d like to thank all those who have helped to secure Allen's convictions, and hope the families of both Alena and Samantha can take at least some comfort in the fact that justice has finally been served."

You can read more about the case and verdict here.