UK

Judges reject challenge to 'joint enterprise' convictions

Tyler Burton and Nicholas Terrelonge Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Tyler Burton and Nicholas Terrelonge were among the men who brought the test cases

Judges have refused to overturn guilty verdicts against 13 men convicted using the law of "joint enterprise".

The test cases were brought after the Supreme Court ruled the controversial law had been interpreted wrongly for more than 30 years.

It has allowed people to be convicted of murder even if they did not inflict the fatal blow, but "could" have foreseen violent acts by others.

There were shouts of "no justice, no peace" when the new judgement was made.

The Supreme Court said in February it was wrong to treat "foresight" as a sufficient test to convict a defendant under the law and juries had to decide on the "whole evidence".

But in his judgement, Lord Neuberger said the decision did not automatically mean all previous joint enterprise convictions were unsafe.

What is the controversial 'joint enterprise' law?

A moment of genuine legal history

Murder ruling 'brings heartache'

The men bringing the test cases at the Court of Appeal were convicted in relation to six separate crimes. Twelve were found guilty of murder and one of wounding with intent and possessing a bladed article.

Among them were Tyler Burton and Nicholas Terrelonge, who were found guilty of murdering Ashley Latty in a group attack in Dagenham, east London, in May 2014.

Rejecting their appeal, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said the Supreme Court judgement would "not have made a difference" to the jury's verdict in the trial and the convictions "were and are safe".

An appeal was also brought on behalf of Asher Johnson, his brother Lewis and Reece Garwood, who were given life sentences for the murder of Thomas Cudjoe in Ilford, east London, in November 2012.

A fourth convicted man, Jerome Green, was seen in CCTV footage holding a knife and apparently stabbing Mr Cudjoe as he sat in the driver's seat of a car in a garage forecourt.

Lawyers argued there was no evidence of common enterprise between his clients and Green and the images did not show they had been involved in a planned attack.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Campaigners demonstrated outside court following the ruling

Rejecting the appeal, Lord Thomas said the verdicts would have been "no different" following the Supreme Court ruling.

He said the court was "satisfied that there was no injustice, let alone substantial injustice".

The decision to reject their cases was met with cries of protest by supporters of the men sitting in the public gallery at the Court of Appeal.


The test cases


The campaign group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGBA) said families of those convicted under the law had been left in tears by the decision.

Group co-founder Jan Cunliffe said: "Some of the families were very, very distraught and left the court room in tears.

"I'm feeling numb, but we're determined to carry on, we're not going to stop."

She said the group was taking advice about the possibility of challenging the judgement in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruling applies to England, Wales, Northern Ireland and most UK overseas common law territories but not Scotland, which has its own rules on joint enterprise.

At the time, campaigners said the change would make the law fairer, but some murder victims' relatives said they were worried about possible appeals.


From duelling to gangs

Image caption Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted under joint enterprise of the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence

Joint enterprise law was originally used to stop aristocrats from duelling, allowing all those involved in the duel, including doctors, to be charged with murder along with the duellists.

The law is regarded as a vital prosecuting tool and was used to convict David Norris and Gary Dobson in 2012 for the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence.

However, in February the Supreme Court ruled that the courts "took a wrong turn" in 1984 in their interpretation of the law.

This judgement referred to a ruling in a case in which three gang members armed with knives burst into the home of a prostitute and her husband in Hong Kong, intending to collect a debt.

The husband was stabbed to death at the hand of at least one of the gang members and all three were convicted of murder.

In February judges said the error made had been "to equate foresight with intent to assist, as a matter of law; the correct approach is to treat it as evidence of intent".


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