The Leyland brother of a man jailed for life for the murder of his girlfriend is helping him fight to clear his name.
Alan Traynor has spent the last 17 years behind bars for strangling, then setting fire to the body of Amanda Chapman, but has always denied any involvement.
Traynor, 57, has fought since 1995 to appeal his conviction, but has had several attempts knocked back.
Now an independent review body has referred his case to the Court of Appeal after new DNA evidence – understood to be that of a woman – emerged pointing to the possibility of another suspect.
Traynor’s brother Brian and sister-in-law Kathleen said they have stood by him because they have always believed in his innocence.
Mrs Traynor, 55, of Leyland, said: “We are praying the appeal comes through. He has wanted for a long time for the case to go back to the Court of Appeal.
“Alan’s tariff was 12 years but because he would never admit to (killing Mandy), he has not been released.
“He said, ‘How can I admit to something I have never done?’
“All the family were baffled when he was sent down – there was no DNA and only circumstantial evidence.
“He is not the same lad – he has really aged and had a heart attack a few years ago. We’re surprised he has survived in there.” Mr Traynor, 59, who visits his brother regularly in HMP Garth in Leyland, said he never believed Alan was capable of killing Mandy.
He said: “He worshipped her. They were going to get married.”
Amanda, known as Mandy, was found dead in an alleyway off Frome Street, 100 yards from the home she shared with Traynor and their five-year-old daughter in Yeovil Court, Ribbleton, Preston, in February 1993.
The 29-year-old machinist had been strangled and her body set alight to hide evidence.
Traynor denied killing her, but was convicted by a jury following an eight-day trial at Preston Crown Court.
Mrs Traynor added that one of the hardest things was the Traynor family had not been allowed any contact with their niece, who would now be around 23.
She said: “It breaks Alan’s heart that his daughter has never wanted to contact him.”
Mandy met Alan Traynor in 1985 in the antiques store where he worked in New Hall Lane, Fishwick.
The couple set up home together soon afterwards and had a baby girl two years later.
But friends later told a court that Traynor was jealous and possessive, had threatened her when she repeatedly tried to leave him and had told an acquaintance he would “kill her stone dead” if she took off with another man.
Correna Platt, a partner at Stephenson’s Solicitors, who is representing Traynor, said: “Alan has always protested his innocence of this crime, and has spent the last 17 years imprisoned, trying to clear his name.
“The decision to refer the case to the Court of Appeal was taken by the Criminal Cases Review Commission after consideration of the papers and the submissions made by us in relation to a viable alternative suspect.
“The issue for the Court of Appeal to decide is whether the evidence is sufficient to undermine the safety of the original conviction.” No date has been set for the hearing at the Court of Appeal.