A MAN who was convicted of the shotgun murder of a teacher on his own doorstep could make legal history when his appeal begins today.

Andrew Adams was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court after a jury found him guilty of the murder of Jack Royal.

The prosecution maintained the killing of Mr Royal, in Sunniside, Gateshead, in March 1990, was a revenge attack following the death of scrap dealer David Thompson.

Mr Royal was accused of stabbing Mr Thompson to death, but was acquitted after a retrial.

Adams was said to have shown a former schoolfriend the shotgun, saying he had "blown [Royal's] head off", but it was never found and there was no forensic evidence linking him to the murder scene.

After being convicted in May 1993, Adams, from Newcastle, failed with an appeal against his conviction five years later.

But last year, the conviction was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body set up to investigate possible miscarriages of justice.

The appeal is due to start today, with the first witnesses being called on Friday.

In an unusual move, three members of the original legal team which represented Adams at his murder trial and four members of the trial jury are to attend and give evidence.

Grounds for the appeal include a claim that Adams was not properly represented by his lawyers at the trial, and that members of the jury showed bias against him.

Such a move has been described as unchartered territory, and is thought to be a first for the Court of Appeal.

Last night, a family friend, Anne Laws, from Fenham, Newcastle, who has campaigned to free Adams, said: "I am very hopeful that the legal team have done everything in their power to expose the fact that this was a miscarriage of justice.

"However, it is a very nervous and anxious time for everybody."

Adams, a 36-year-old former aircraft engineer, has been held in Durham's Frankland Prison.

He has already served the minimum 14-year tariff recommended by the trial judge, but has failed to win an early release from his sentence because he continues to deny having committed the crime.

Adams, who is represented by the London-based law firm Hickman & Rose, will be present at court, but will not give evidence.

It is likely the hearing will last up to two weeks before a verdict is delivered by three appeal court judges.

A spokeswoman for Northumbria police said it was making no comment until the outcome was known.