A Navy veteran serving a prison sentence for sordid sex attacks on a little boy faces an anxious wait to learn the outcome of his Court of Appeal battle to clear his name
Michael Thomas Hilton, 43, was jailed for 15 years at Derby Crown Court in September last year for rape, sexual activity with a child and having indecent images of children.
The former nuclear submarine sonar operator continues to deny the offences and this week took his case to the Court of Appeal in London in a bid to overturn the convictions.
But, after hearing a day of argument, three senior judges opted to reserve their decision on the case until a later date, possibly in the New Year.
Hilton, formerly of Glen Road, Matlock, appeared in the dock in a blue denim jacket and t-shirt as his barrister, Jonathan Goldberg QC, launched his appeal.
“This man had a defence, but it was not vigorously placed before the jury,” he told the court. “He has not really had a fair crack of the whip in this trial.”
The court heard that Hilton’s convictions were based on complaints made by a little boy, who was interviewed in front of video cameras by police.
But Mr Goldberg criticised the way that the victim interviewing process - known as an Achieving Best Evidence procedure - was undertaken in the case.
The boy was praised at the end of the interview, the QC said, which might have made him think he was being a “good boy” by making the complaints.
The court heard that Hilton, who is also appealing the length of his sentence, was viciously assaulted within a week of going into prison.
“He still bears physical scars and neurological damage to this day,” said Mr Goldberg. “The three men responsible were convicted of wounding.”
Lord Justice Pitchford, who heard the appeal with Mrs Justice Dobbs and Judge Francis Gilbert QC, said “important” issues had been raised.
“We are going to reserve our judgment about this case,” he said. “We will take time to consider all the arguments.”
Hilton, whose partner has stood by him, mouthed the words “I love you” at the public gallery as he was led back down to the cells at the end of the hearing.