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Appeal over murder plot conviction is rejected

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 16, 2012

A Cornish grandmother serving a 20-year stretch for plotting to murder her pagan lover has failed in a Court of Appeal bid to clear her name.

Margaret Anne James, 64, of Porthoustock, has always denied conspiring to kill 56-year-old parish councillor and Druid community member Peter Solheim.

The father-of-two disappeared in the middle of June 2004 and his body was later found floating five miles off the Lizard Peninsula.

In July 2006, James was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to murder her lover at Truro Crown Court and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment.

Six years on, she took her case to the Court of Appeal yesterday, claiming she had been wrongly convicted, but had her "unarguable" case rejected by three judges.

Giving judgment, Judge Melbourne Inman QC, Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Cranston said there was nothing to suggest James's conviction was unsafe. The court heard James and Mr Solheim had been in a relationship for about nine years, but he had been having a simultaneous relationship with another woman.

Prosecutors alleged the other relationship and the fact he had been in the process of buying a ring for the woman were part of the reason for James wanting him dead.

Evidence was put forward by a witness at the trial of her having spoken about finding a tasteless poison with which to lace his food and kill him.

In the appeal hearing in London yesterday, her legal team argued that the evidence was "hearsay" and should never have gone before the jury.

It was also argued that further information, not seen by James's lawyers, might now be available which could help her in an appeal against the conviction.

However, the appeal was rejected by the judges.

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