A MAN wrongly charged with the murder of a schoolboy 23 years ago has spoken of his relief after a prisoner admitted the killing.
Steven Grieveson yesterday confessed to the killing of 14-year-old Simon Martin.
Grieveson’s admission brings to an end one of Sunderland’s longest-running unsolved crimes.
Simon, of Southwick, Sunderland, was discovered battered to death in May 1990 at the now demolished Gillside House on Roker seafront.
Police initially charged Alvin White, then just 16 and a schoolmate of Simon, with his murder.
Mr White was arrested after police found a fingerprint at the scene, but the case was later dropped.
Speaking about yesterday’s confession, Mr White, now 38, told the Echo: “We have known all along who was responsible, but at last he has now admitted it.
“I’m pleased for Simon’s family that this has finally come out.”
Mr White spent a decade under the shadow of suspicion. He was arrested after police found a fingerprint at the scene, in what they believed to be Simon Martin’s blood.
But the case was dropped in 1990, when it was revealed forensic scientists couldn’t confirm the substance was from Simon, or even that it was blood.
Mr White was eventually awarded a five-figure compensation payout after then Home Secretary David Blunkett intervened in the case.
Mr White, who works in Roker, said: “I’ve been able to put all this behind me and get on with a life for myself.”
Suspicions about Grieveson’s involvement in Simon’s death date back a number of years. In 2000, he was arrested and questioned about the killing.
At the time, police refused to reveal what new evidence they had. A file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but a charge never followed.
Then last November, Kingsley Hyland, head of the Complex Casework Unit at the CPS North East, authorised Northumbria Police to charge Grieveson with the murder. He was arrested and remanded in custody accused of the killing.
Yesterday, at Newcastle Crown Court, Grieveson admitted the killing but pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder.
Brian Hegarty, defending, told the hearing: “Mr Grieveson will not dispute that he is responsible for the death.”
Judge James Goss QC told the court: “That does not mean he is admitting murder. He is admitting unlawful killing.”
The court heard that a trial will take place in June to determine whether Grieveson is guilty of murder or manslaughter.
The court heard the issues at trial may be diminished responsibility and/or a lack of intent.
Prosecutor William Lowe QC told the court: “The Crown’s allegation is he murdered Simon Martin. He is admitting unlawfully having killed him.”
Grieveson, who was wearing a black tracksuit top with striped sleeves, spoke only to confirm his name and say “not guilty” to the murder charge.
He was remanded in custody and will appear at court for a further hearing in March.