Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Shiela Bowler





Life Imprisonment

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U.S. State or Country of Crime:

United Kingdom

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Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Shiela Bowler was 62 when she was wrongly convicted of murder on July 9, 1993 for the death of her 89-year-old aunt Florence Jackson in May 1992. Jackson drowned in the River Brede near Rye in East Sussex, England in May 1992. Bowler was charged with murder and her case was given considerable press and television coverage in England. During her trial the prosecution's theory was that Bowler pushed her aunt in the river so she could collect her inheritance. Bowler's defense was that the car she was driving got a flat tire and she left her aunt in the car when she went for help, and that when she came back her aunt was gone. Her body was later found in the river near the road, so Bowler's counsel argued she could have gotten out of the car and accidentally fallen in the water. Based solely on circumstantial evidence that Jackson's death was a homicide, and it was committed by Bowler, she was convicted by a majority 11 to 1 jury vote at the Crown Court in Hove, England. Bowler's appeal included new evidence by two experts in the field of geriatric medicine, "to the effect that the accident hypothesis, although unlikely, was not impossible nor so unlikely that it could in the doctors' opinion be ruled out as an explanation of the death of the deceased." Bowler's conviction was quashed on July 24, 1997 by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, and a retrial was ordered. Bowler was released from prison on bond after four years in custody. Seven months later during her retrial the prosecution's case was again based on the theory that Bowler had a financial interest in her aunt's death. Bowler testified in her defense that she had no need of money because she received £17,500 a year from teaching at private schools and pensions, the mortgage on her home was paid off and she had savings. She was acquitted by a unanimous jury on February 5, 1998."

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

"Bowler was acquitted on February 5, 1998 after a retrial."

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Was Perpetrator Identified?

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Information Source 1:

"Murderess' is found not guilty, By Staff writer, BBC News, February 5, 1998"

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Information Source 2:

"Regina v. Sheila Bowler, No. 97/1298/W2 (England and Wales Crim. Ct. of Appeal, 7-24-1997) (Quashing conviction and ordering retrial.)"

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Information Source 3:

"The Innocent, By Rachel Cooke (Staff writer), The Guardian (London, UK), October 3, 2001"

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Book About Case:

""Anybody's Nightmare: The Sheila Bowler Story," Angela and Tim Devlin, Westside Press, London. Book about Sheila Bowler's wrongful conviction and imprisonment by the husband and wife who led the campaign for the quashing of her conviction and ther release."

Book Information:


Book About Case (2):

Book Information (2):

Movie About Case:

""Anybody's Nightmare" (2001) Made for BBC drama that first aired the weekend of Oct. 4th, 2001. Stars Patricia Routledge. Two-hour drama based on the book by Angela and Tim Devlin by the same name about Shiela Bowler's 1993 wrongful murder conviction and imprisonment for four years."

Comments About Case:

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