Murder conviction overturned

Boyfriend's conviction for the murder of Polish girl Kamila Garsztka quashed by the country's top judge

The boyfriend of a Polish woman whose dead body was found floating in a Bedford lake in January 2006 had his murder conviction dramatically overturned by the country's top judge on Thursday, February 26.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said new evidence cast such a doubt on the safety of Amilton Bento's conviction that it had to be quashed.

Bento, 29, of Rutland Road, Bedford, was jailed for life in July 2007 after a jury at Luton Crown Court convicted him of murdering his girlfriend, 26-year-old Kamila Garsztka.

But Bento, originally from Portugal, continued to protest his innocence even after the verdict was delivered and launched a Court of Appeal bid to clear his name.

The case was at the central London court last year when top judges ordered that investigations be conducted into the effect possible fresh evidence could have had on the trial.

After considering documents, Lord Judge, sitting at the appeal court with Mr Justice Christopher Clarke and Mr Justice Holroyde, said the new evidence, produced by four experts, was "potentially credible".

If it had been before the jury, it might have had a "significant impact" on the verdict which was delivered and, therefore, the conviction was "unsafe", he added.

Bento, in a dark suit, sat in silence in the dock throughout as the judges delivered their judgment before ordering that he be re-tried on the murder charge.

Tests on Miss Garsztka's body, which was found by a party of canoeing schoolboys on January 24, 2006, at Priory Marina, Bedford, proved inconclusive as to the cause of death.