Killer’s appeal over East Ham shooting

A CONTRACT killer who murdered an East Ham man while hunting down �150,000 which had gone missing from a bank heist had his conviction challenge turned down.

Merrick Brown, who fled to America after the October 2001 shooting of 36-year-old Shaun Fray, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in November 2009 after he was convicted of murder. He was ordered to serve 33 years behind bars before he can be considered for parole.

The prosecution said Brown, 40, tracked Mr Fray down to his home in Lonsdale Avenue, East Ham, in pursuit of �150,000 in cash still missing from a security van raid committed in 1990.

Fray had admitted armed robbery in relation to the raid – in which �250,000 was taken – serving three years before he was released on parole in 1994.

Some of the heist cash was recovered, but �150,000 was never found, the Appeal Court heard.

After his release on parole, Fray tried to get his life back on track, said Lord Justice Pill, setting up a hi-fi business and marrying.

He died in October 2001 when a gunman, who the prosecution said was Brown, entered his home and shot him.

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Brown challenged the safety of his murder conviction.

His lawyers claimed pre-trial identification procedures were flawed, and that evidence of his previous convictions for firearms offences should have been excluded from the trial.

But Lord Justice Pill, sitting with Mr Justice Owen and Judge Andrew Patience, rejected the criticisms and upheld the jury’s verdict. He added that Brown had faced “devastating” evidence in the shape of fingerprint evidence linking him to bank documents found at the scene.