JUDGES have misdirected juries in murder trials for thirty years, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that ‘joint enterprise,’ which allows people to be convicted of murder even if they did not strike the fatal blow, had been misinterpreted.
Hundreds of young people who have spent their adult life in jail for simply being ‘guilty by association,’ can now appeal. Outside the court, friends and family of those who have been convicted using this form of ‘collective punishment,’ shouted ‘What do we want? Justice!’
One of the cases of misjustice that this ruling may have an affect on is the case of the murder of Gary Newlove. Gary Newlove was attacked outside his house in Warrington, Cheshire, on 10 August 2007, he died in hospital two days later.
On 16 January 2008, Adam Swellings was convicted of Newlove’s murder, along with 17-year-old Stephen Sorton and 16-year-old Jordan Cunliffe. Jordan Cunliffe later appealed against his murder conviction on the grounds that he had not taken part in the attack but was found guilty on the grounds of ‘joint enterprise’.
Jordan’s mum Jane Cunliffe said outside the court: ‘Everything I have fought for for eight and a half years came to fruition in the Supreme Court today, so I am really, really grateful that the judges actually put logic back into the law.
‘Jordan’s case has already been to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and we have quite a strong case for him. We have over 600, there could be even more than that, they are just the ones that we know about. I think that everyone is just absolutely ecstatic now, justice has been put back into the law.
‘We don’t know what we are going to do now, but we know that whatever it is it is going to be a big, long, hard job to get people who have been wrongfully convicted, do get their sentences quashed. My son had no involvement in the death of Gary Newlove whatsoever, no involvement at all, and he has said that from day one.
‘Other people who were present at the scene have said that. He probably is one of the cases where he is completely innocent. You do have cases where people have committed a crime and they are quite happy to be punished for the crime that they have committed, but not murder.’
The court was ruling on appeals against murder convictions by two men serving life sentences in separate cases. The appeals were considered together because both hinged on the joint enterprise issue.