A MULTI-million pound murder case was thrown out of the Old Bailey after a judge ruled the evidence was "inconsistent".

Hever Morales and Zoran Vujovic, accused of murdering cocaine smuggler Hernan Mora at Skimmers Orchard Farm in Hazlemere, walked free from court on December 16.

The decision came as welcome news for farmer Barry Atkins, who says his family were subjected to a hate campaign before and during the trial although there was never any suggestion during the trial of them being involved.

Mr Atkins, who always maintained the farm was free of criminal activity, told Midweek after the trial collapse: "This is great news. I'd imagine the feeling is like walking on air.

"We've had to put up with so much. We've been branded murderers which isn't right.

"It wasn't fair. My family are honest people.

"Tongues are always wagging round here. It's affected my family. We said all along it wasn't true, but it never stopped people saying things."

Mr Atkins, who co-purchased the Amersham Road farm in 1992, added: "Now the case has been thrown out, we want to try and put it behind us. We just want to try and get on with things now."

Morales, 29, of Newbury Road, Chingford, and Vujovic, 40, of no fixed address, were alleged to have kidnapped Hernan Mora and driven him to Skimmers Orchard Farm seven years ago.

The court had heard how the two men were alleged to have interrogated and then killed their victim in a portable building, as star witness Luis "Fernando" Morales, 33, was forced to watch.

But Judge David Paget QC cleared both defendants three months into the trial because, he said, Luis Morales' evidence was inconsistent.

The judge told the court: "If I had allowed this case to proceed, and if there had been a conviction, it would have had all the hallmarks of a miscarriage of justice."

He added: "My ruling will be a great disappointment to the police and prosecution who have spent years trying to solve this particularly unpleasant murder."

Hever Morales and Vujovic always maintained their innocence and denied murder, two charges of kidnapping and two of false imprisonment.

Police said after the case that they were unable to take the investigation any further.