Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Email To Commonwealth Human Rights Initative (CHRI) - December 6, 2013

"Hi

I wonder if you can advise us if you have a policy or guidance on the application and adoption of the English Common Law Principle of "Joint Enterprise" or "Joint Criminal Enterprise" in the Criminal Legal Systems of the Commonwealth Nations?
 
JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association) is a campaign group seeking to reform the abuse of this legal principle mainly in England & Wales but has become aware of cases in other parts of the world including Australia, several Caribbean Islands (including Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada), and in the Solomon Islands.   We are beginning to see the misuse of the Doctrine of "Common Purpose" as a Human Rights Issue, where Collective Liability is used to prosecute, convict, and sentence people with lesser or even no involvement in the main offence.
 
We are very interested in CHRI's research or opinion on the application of this legal principle and hope you can refer us to Human Rights Campaign groups in the Commonwealth who we can approach to find out their own views and experiences.
 
You can find out about JENGbA at the links below.
 
Thank you for reading!"

 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Justice for Jack Dempsey - Another Joint Enterprise Case

My son, Jack Dempsey, is a victim of the perverse law known as Joint Enterprise. His crime was to behave bravely by pursuing a criminal assailant to detain him and for that he received a sentence of life imprisonment.

The Party
In January 2003, Jack was out with a friend and acquaintances, Nicki Miller, sisters Stacey and Ashley Faunch, and Stacey's boyfriend, Tyrone Woolley. They were celebrating Nicki's eighteenth birthday. Jack was twenty-one, Woolley was twenty-three and the sisters were both under twenty years old. Nicki was the only one of the party who Jack knew as a friend. The others were just acquaintances. They went to a disco, The Boulevarde, in London's Ealing Broadway, and had a good time. As the party left the club they saw an abusive row going on between some East European guys and three young men, two black guys and twenty-seven years old Paul Carr, who was of mixed race. They deliberately avoided this fracas by turning into a pedestrianized shopping precinct. But the row tailed off just then and Paul Carr and his companions followed them into the precinct.

The First Incident
What happened next is attested to by witnesses. Paul Carr and his mates caught up with Nicki Miller's party near a well known horse statue just off Uxbridge Road. They started chatting-up the girls, who told them they had boyfriends. At first, the encounter was good-natured but Paul Carr persisted with his unwelcome advances and the exchanges became heated. Tyrone Woolley then produced a flick-knife from his hip pocket and threatened Carr. This was the first time anybody else in the party knew Woolley had a knife on him. Jack was alarmed by this development and interposed himself between Woolley and the other guys. Carr's two companions were also worried and pulled Paul Carr away, saying they didn't want any trouble. Woolley then put the knife away. As the two groups parted, Carr pulled free of his mates and returned to pester Ashley Faunch. He started to paw her and she warded him off. A witness overlooking this incident from his bedroom window testified to exactly what happened then. As Ashley fended him off, Carr punched her so forcefully in the face that her tooth penetrated her cheek. She fell unconscious to the ground. Carr turned and fled immediately after delivering this vicious punch. The others, including Carr's companions, ran to help Ashley but Jack chased after Carr straight away. As he ran around the corner on to Uxbridge Road, Carr stopped and tried to punch Jack, but missed. Jack tried to punch back but Carr caught his arm and threw him down, then he fled again. Jack got up and pursued Carr again. He did not know that Tyrone Woolley and Stacey Faunch had joined the chase behind him at that point.



The Fatal Second Incident

Paul Carr ran about two hundred metres into another disco where he was already known as a troublemaker. The bouncer, Mr Ngei, grabbed him and started to push him back out just as Jack arrived. Jack was panting for breath, but he called for the receptionist to call the police and he shouted at Carr, "Why are you punching girls?" He said this hoping the bouncer would help him to hold Carr until the police arrived. Woolley and Stacey arrived behind Jack as Carr was forced out of the doorway. Carr threw a punch at Jack as soon as the bouncer released him, but missed. Jack tried to pin his arms but Carr pulled away and then threw a punch at Woolley, who scuffled with him. Woolley then turned and ran from the scene. Paul Carr pulled his shirt off, revealing a blood wound to his side. He then collapsed. At that point, Jack and Stacey realised Woolley had used his knife. They too then ran from the scene. This all took place in less than a minute.

The Aftermath
Jack and Stacey returned to the horse statue to rejoin Nicki Miller and Ashley Faunch, who had recovered consciousness by then. There was no sign of Tyrone Woolley so Jack called him on his mobile. Woolley agreed to return to meet them. When he came back, Jack and the three girls got into his car but Woolley wanted to go to his mother's house to discuss the incident. Jack knew this was a very serious issue and he told Woolley to drop him off instead. After Jack left the car. Stacey asked her boyfriend, "What did you do?" Woolley replied, "I stabbed him." At his house, his mother also asked what happened and Woolley told her he had, "... stabbed the guy with his car keys!" All three girls testified to these confessions later. Paul Carr died in hospital about an hour after the stabbing.


The following afternoon as Jack returned from work on a bus, he saw police incident tapes around the entrance of The Boulevarde. He phoned Woolley and told him the matter was obviously quite serious. Later that day, the media reported the death of Paul Carr and the police hunt for the 'gang' responsible. Woolley and his mother took a plane to America that evening.

The three girls were traced the next day and then armed police raided Jack's mother's house looking for him. Jack had moved in with his partner and their baby son a few weeks earlier and so he was safe for a while. He decided to give himself up a few days later because he knew the police would have heard all the details from the girls. He also knew he had not done anything criminal.

The Murder Charges and Trial

Jack and Stacey were both charged with murder! Tyrone Woolley was arrested weeks later in Canada and was extradited to face trial along with them. Jack and Stacey were charged with murder under the doctrine of Joint Enterprise

Woolley's defence was that it was Jack who had stabbed Paul Carr. He said he had no weapon that night and denied producing a flick-knife at the horse statue incident in spite of the evidence of the girls and Paul Carr's two companions. He denied confessing to the girls in the car and at his mother's house and claimed that Jack and the three girls, including his own girlfriend, beside him in the dock, had conspired to blame him in his absence! Needless to say, he was convicted of murder.

Khalid: The police had acquired a very pliable and untrustworthy witness. He was an Afghan by name of Khalid, whose English was very poor and whose immigration status was questionable. He was operating that night as an illegal mini-cab driver. He had given false identification details to the police at the scene of the killing but they traced him after a week of enquiries at other mini-cab firms in the area.



His evidence was contradicted by numerous verifiable facts; his claim to have seen into the club's foyer as Paul Carr was manhandled out - but CCTV coverage of the entrance to the disco shows the pair of drapes that makes that impossible! - the evidence of Mr Ngei and other people at the scene as well as the differing accounts of the incident he gave in several different statements.



Critically, he had confused Jack with the victim. He described Jack as a "half-caste" and Paul Carr as "the boy". The reverse was true. Jack was twenty-one and white English whereas Paul Carr was twenty-seven with an African father and an English mother. Khalid also passed Jack by and misidentified an innocent volunteer in a police line-up. Regardless, both the prosecution and the trial judge used his highly dubious evidence to suggest that both Jack and Stacey had participated in an attack on Paul Carr in the doorway of the disco. He claimed to have heard the 'half-caste' (Jack) shouting, "Give it to him." to Woolley in the club's entrance. He also said Stacey had kicked Paul Carr as he lay on the ground dying.



This was deadly Joint Enterprise evidence against Jack and Stacey, despite the fact that even the prosecution conceded Khalid's evidence could be as much as 75% wrong! Stacey's counsel was able to prove materially that Khalid was definitely wrong about the alleged kick.



Pathology Evidence:

Dr Freddy Patel was declared unfit to practice and struck off by the General Medical Council in August 2012. Unfortunately, he was still on the Home Office list of pathologists in 2003 and his evidence was very damaging against both Jack and Stacey because he recorded a number of bruises and brawl injuries as well as two stab wounds on Paul Carr's body. This made it look as if these injuries were inflicted on him at the entrance of The Boulevarde but that was not the case.



Apart from the stab wounds, all the cuts and bruises on his body were older because he had been involved in a very violent fight with two off-duty policemen in a pub in Harrow three days earlier. The pub window was broken in this fight and he also resisted arrest violently when uniformed police arrived, adding to his injuries. A police doctor recorded his injuries at the police station in Harrow but Freddy Patel made no age distinction between the various injuries and the stab wounds in his written report.



This written report was accepted because the defence, inexplicably, did not call evidence about the Harrow fight. It was classified as 'unused evidence' and Dr Patel was not called to be cross-examined. This meant that the jury could conclude that there was a violent fight involving Woolley, Jack, Stacey and Paul Carr during the course of which he suffered the various other injuries recorded in the post mortem report.   

Jack's Defence:
Jack related truthfully the sequence of events and his role and intentions in pursuing Paul Carr that night to the police when he gave himself up and in the witness box at the trial. Only Khalid's evidence conflicted with Jack's and Stacey's accounts. But his evidence also conflicted with the bouncer's evidence. Mr Ngei remembered hearing Jack shout, "Why are you punching girls." but denied hearing anything else and contradicted claims by Khalid about the alleged fight. The disco receptionist confirmed the bouncer's account. Nevertheless, the trial judge was hostile and bad-tempered with these two witnesses but highly accommodating with Khalid. He gave Khalid an hour's break during his cross-examination to allow him to refresh himself with his earlier statements to the police because he was so incoherent, inconsistent and uncertain. After the verdicts, the judge also gave Khalid a reward of five-hundred pounds for the value of his testimony. Another witness, Mr Samra, an Indian guy who also failed to hear anything Khalid claimed to have heard and who called the ambulance and administered first-aid to the stricken Paul Carr until it arrived, did not even get a mention from the judge.

The Verdicts and Sentences
The jury returned to court during their deliberations to ask to read statements again and to ask the judge if they could find one defendant guilty of manslaughter. The judge was very irritable with them. He admonished them because he had spent two days summing up. He then repeated the concept of culpability that informs the perverse law of Joint Enterprise which, in effect, means that murder convictions should be returned against anybody in the company of a killer. A concept that makes us all responsible for the deadly actions of others. My brother's keeper. 



Wooley was found guilty of murder, not surprisingly in view of his absurd defence, and he received a life sentence with an 18-year tariff. Jack was also found guilty of murder and received a life sentence with a tariff of 16-years. Stacey was acquitted.

Futile Appeals

Just after the trial, Jack received a bundle of documents by post. Labelled 'unused evidence', they were sent to him anonymously. They recorded the details about the Harrow fight confirming that Paul Carr's injuries, apart from the stab wounds, had not been inflicted that night. Jack started an immediate appeal with a new legal team. Dr Freddy Patel was approached and made the following statement:


"I concur with the serious concerns expressed by the defence counsel that crucial medical evidence of Dr W who had examined the deceased [in Harrow] a couple of days prior to his death was not disclosed at the original trial. An insight into the age of the injuries listed by Dr W could have significantly altered my opinions on the causation of these injuries. Therefore, at this late stage it is paramount in my view that the colour album of the postmortem photographs are reproduced for Dr W in the first instance to identify the older injuries and thereafter Dr R to prepare an expert report for the defence following which I can review my original opinions and give due consideration to any appropriate amendment in the light of new disclosures."  

Regardless of his medical incompetence, Freddy Patel was honest enough to appreciate the crucial nature of the unused evidence. Nevertheless, the appeal court rejected Jack's appeal because they said his defence knew about this evidence and chose not to use it! This is staggering. Jack did not know about this evidence but he knew full well that the jury thought he and Woolley had fought with Paul Carr. But that was not the case. Apart from his failed attempt to punch Jack and then Woolley's scuffle and stabbing, Paul Carr was not otherwise assaulted at that time.



It appears our appeal courts abide by the idea that if a barrister is negligent or incompetent, his client suffers the consequences, even a life sentence! Whether or not the defence teams actually knew about these Harrow injuries is uncertain. It was available in the case papers and that is all that is certain. We have not been able to ascertain the truth because the original legal team refuse to comment about the case. But many other cases of miscarriages have revealed how the police are very skilful at concealing evidence favouring the defence by mislabelling it.

A second appeal was launched by Edward Fitzgerald QC, who campaigns vigorously against Joint Enterprise convictions. But the result was the same. Once a jury finds somebody guilty, that verdict is set in concrete as far as the criminal justice system in the UK is concerned.

Why?    
The accounts given above are true and Jack's mother and sister, myself and his partner are devastated that Jack is suffering unjust imprisonment for a murder in which he took no part and could not possibly have predicted while his son grows up without a father. How could a jury convict Jack of murder in those circumstances?

The answer is that there is a political policy of the day that requires the state to appear to be tough on knife crime and on 'gangs', whatever that means. Any couple of friends or small group can now be described as a 'gang' and Joint Enterprise is being used on an everyday basis to convict innocent people, mostly young black guys, of murder whenever a fatality occurs in a common brawl. It has no relationship to justice or morality and it is being extended to many other sorts of crime as well. The police love Joint Enterprise and regularly advertise their intention to use it. Convictions are easily obtained because they do not have to prove any actual criminal behaviour. Judges are stretching the concept of culpability to such a degree that they can persuade juries to convict innocent parties in Joint Enterprise cases. Just being there is enough.

There is also a massive reluctance on the part of governments and the judiciary to accept the fact that the police often groom witnesses, fabricate evidence and commit wholesale perjury in the course of their everyday duties. The huge number of cases of known miscarriages, along with the many others never exposed, proves this point. The Cardiff Five case, the Stefan Kiszko case and the case of Gary Mills and Tony Poole best describe the culture of corruption and abuse endemic in our police CID forces.


The fact that Jack's jury convicted him but acquitted Stacey is also inconsistent with the evidence. If they believed Khalid then they should have convicted Stacey. If they didn't believe Khalid then they should have acquitted Jack. Stacey was lucky but as I discovered in other examples of Joint Enterprise cases, juries seem to acquit some defendants because they feel bad about convicting all the companions of the actual perpetrator.

       
The evidence of Dr Freddy Patel was very damaging but Khalid's was also critical regardless of its conflict with the testimony of other witnesses. The police saw Freddy Patel's report and wrongly concluded, as did the jury and everybody else, that Paul Carr had been in a fight outside The Boulevarde. They needed a witness to say there was such a fight because Mr Ngei's evidence did not record such a fight. I believe Khalid was primed by the police to make claims about what he saw and heard that night to create a fight that never happened but which made a Joint Enterprise case against Stacey and Jack. Khalid was scared of deportation or charges in relation to his illegal mini-cabbing and he was, therefore, putty in their hands. The cases of Sion Jenkins and Dudley and Maynard as well as the Cardiff Five shows clearly the way the police groom or blackmail witnesses. If you don't believe they do this, I can only say you are very naive.



I can tell you that almost all miscarriages are a result of police corruption of evidence and I invite you to examine the few cases I mention above on their websites or the many other cases mentioned on websites run by INNOCENT - JENGbA and JUSTICE. There is a link below to the JENGbA site:


What Next?
I have joined with an organisation called JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) in a public campaign to fight for justice for my son and the sons and brothers of the more than three hundred mostly young kids who have been inhumanly imprisoned because politicians want to look good in public on the law and order issue. I recommend that you check out the cases of Jordan Cunliffe, Nicola Faulds, Tirrell Davis, Jade Braithwaite and any of the many other cases where the state has used collective punishment to imprison innocent people.

Joint Enterprise is an evil law that is a menace to everybody and their children. If you go out with a friend and there is a fight, it doesn't matter that you do nothing criminal, you will be charged and convicted of murder if someone in your company kills. We must force the hypocrites who rule us to repeal this dreadful anti-social law.



"For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing."

(Edmund Burke)

Please support JENGbA and help to get justice for my son and many others like him. Write to your MP or contact the following e-mail address to offer moral support: andy@jackdempseyinjustice.co.uk - or use the link above.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

"Appeal court referral is a welcome boost for university Innocence Projects" (UK Guardian)


Dwaine George's case is the first to be referred by students from a university-based Innocence Project

good qu
The Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case of Dwaine George to the court of appeal on Friday Photograph: Graham Turner
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referred the case of Dwaine George to the court of appeal on Friday. Daniel Dale died almost instantly as he ran away from a shooting in the Miles Platting area of Manchester in July 2001. George, then 18 years old, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder after a jury at Preston Crown Court found him guilty. He pleaded not guilty.
A few weeks ago George, now 29, was released from prison on life licence, having studied hard and been awarded a first class social sciences degree. "I have said from day one that it wasn't me. I know there are still huge hurdles ahead, but I want to prove my innocence," George says.
The notable feature of the referral is that it's the first time a case has been referred to the court of appeal on application made by a university-based Innocence Project. The first Innocence Project was started in the UK in 2005 and there are now some 27 projects based at universities in England and Wales.
George had appealed against his conviction in 2004 but the appeal was dismissed. The new referral is based on evidence relating to gunshot residue identified by students at Cardiff University Law School. The CCRC commissioned an expert analysis of the residue and the referral draws on the report. Cardiff University Law School Innocence Project has made "a very significant contribution to the case and to the referral of Mr George's convictions", the CCRC says.
George's case was one of six cases that students at Cardiff Law School investigated, overseen by its director Julie Price and consultant Dr Dennis Eady. "We worked on it for almost four years, then it was with the CCRC for a further three", writes Price. She adds that it is a time for "reflection rather than celebration."
"A young person was killed. That victim's family saw someone convicted and they are now faced with the news that the conviction is under the spotlight 12 years after the event. A wrongful conviction will mean that the real perpetrator may still be walking our streets."
Times moves at a glacial pace in the under-resourced and overly-complex world of criminal appeals, nonetheless it is a shock to learn that this is the first case to be referred through an application signed off by a university. There was the Simon Hall referral – although the work was largely done by Bristol University, the application was apparently made in the name of the solicitors' firm who advised them previously. And, of course, Hall confessed. That bombshell over the summer stunned many campaigners who viewed Hall as a flagship case for the movement and the first real prospect of getting a conviction overturned.
It led to some internal reflection within the university community – not least by Price who has been candid about her frustrations with the lack of progress in her Diary of an Innocence Project column. "I don't think that university innocence projects have even scratched the surface of the miscarriage of justice problem. Although they have played an important part in teaching our future lawyers about the iniquities of the criminal justice system," Price tells me. No one would doubt the commitment and energy of students working hard to investigate cases of those alleging to be victims of miscarriages who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. As David Robinson, legal advisor at the CCRC, reflected this month at the Innocence Network UK (INUK) conference, some 27 projects are investigating around 100 cases and "presumably dozens more" for those innocence projects who operate outside of INUK. The Cardiff project is not part of INUK.
But Robinson went on to reflect on "the mismatch" between the number of cases being investigated and the number of applications to the CCRC.
Since 2005, there has only been applications relating to 17 individual cases from a total five universities. There isn't much love lost between INUK and the CCRC. The conference was the first time the Commission had been invited since 2008 and INUK's founder Michael Naughton has consistently made the argument that the watchdog is no longer fit for purpose. Many of the concerns about the cash-strapped and overwhelmed CCRC are well-made, some aren't.
No doubt with that history in mind, David Robinson offered the INUK students "some sort of context" for their figures. Since 2005, 266 CCRC referrals have gone back to the courts – almost exactly half of the total number of cases referred by the Commission. "How many meritorious cases might there be out there in the hands of innocence projects and how many more referrals might we have been able to make if we had seen more applications from them?" Robinson asked the INUK delegates.
Price hopes that referral of George's case "will give a welcome boost to the morale of UK Innocence Projects at this time of crossroads and brick walls". One hopes so.

 

 



Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Curious Case of Grayling And The Vanishing Undies

Chris Grayling's prison reforms have resulted in an embarrassingly intimate restriction imposed upon female inmates.

Chris Grayling with Knickers

On 1st November 2012, when his IEP regulations took effect, the previously unrestricted amount of undergarments allowed to women prisoners was reduced to the same amount as male prisoners.

On the Spurgeon's web page for HMP YOI Holloway "Giving money and property to prisoners at HMP and YOI Holloway", it says: "You can give a prisoner unlimited supplies of underwear, including knickers, bras, socks, boxers and all-in-ones."

But on page 51 of Grayling's National Offender Management Services: Incentives and Earned Privileges (PSI 30/2013), it says:


Socks/Tights
 
All
Max 10 pairs. Plain – no offensive slogans
 
IEP
Underwear
 
All
Max 14 items plus 7 bras. Plain – no offensive slogans.
IEP


This raises three questions:

1.  Are all male prisoners also allowed to have 7 bras?

2.  What is Chris Grayling going to do with all the confiscated panties, all-in-ones, bras, socks, tights and other intimate apparel being taken away from the women and girls under his care?

3.  How embarrassing would it be for the Coalition Government if the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice was mistaken for a "knicker thief"?
 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Radio interview with JENGbA campaigners on Joint Enterprise

Radio interview with JENGbA campaigners on Joint Enterprise


jengba

On the first of October I had the pleasure of interviewing two campaigners from JENGbA Gloria and Patricia.  We spoke about the important work they do when dealing with cases involving the doctrine of joint enterprise.  Joint enterprise is a form of secondary liability for someone else’s actions.  More than 400 young people are serving life for murder under joint enterprise.  I have been raising awareness in schools and youth projects for the last 4 years  on joint enterprise.
For more information on JENGbA visit Websites :http://www.jointenterprise.co/  Twitter:https://twitter.com/JENGbA   Blog: http://jengba.blogspot.com/

Radio interview;


Friday, 11 October 2013

Black, working class and poor? Guilty!

Bourgeois justice, working-class injustice

Black, working class and poor? Guilty!

Party comrades recently attended a trial at Woolwich Crown Court, cosily situated to act as an adjunct of Belmarsh high security prison in south London. There they witnessed a blatant exposure of the hypocrisy of British imperialism, which claims to be a steadfast champion of civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law. In the criminal courts, in particular, the jury trial is supposed to safeguard the golden principle that nobody can be convicted of a crime unless the evidence shows beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty as charged.

Jury manipulation
 
What our foray into Woolwich Crown Court showed, however, is that proceedings can be and are manipulated in such a way as to ensure juries convict if the evidence shows not ‘guilt beyond all reasonable doubt’ but only that there is a distant possibility that the accused might be guilty.
 
The case we observed involved a young, poor, working-class black man, who was accused of conspiring with two other men to produce marijuana. The other two men had pleaded guilty and were not on trial.
 
The only evidence put forward of the accused’s guilt is that he had spoken at various times to the men in question on a mobile phone, that he had visited the property where the marijuana was grown and that in a house shared by various people where he stayed from time to time there was found a book on growing marijuana and the type of thermometer that is apparently used by people who grow marijuana.
 
The police, however, used a smoke-and-mirrors approach to presenting their evidence, which, by demonstrating their painstaking efforts to track down which mobile telephone belonged to whom, involving triangulation from various telephone masts showing where mobile phone numbers were located at the time of various conversations, managed to create the impression that since the accused was most probably in telephone contact with the marijuana growers, he must necessarily have been conspiring with them, or at least have conspired with them in their criminal enterprise at some point.
 
The jury duly found the accused guilty as charged. Despite the trickery on the part of the prosecution, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that for 12 citizens to arrive at such an incredibly certain conclusion in the light of the very inconclusive state of the evidence – which very arguably established no case to answer – could not be unrelated to the fact that they were all but one of them were white. One also wonders whether it is a coincidence that in London, with its diverse and multi-ethnic population, an almost all-white jury was produced to try a black man.
 
The jury did at one point ask the judge whether merely visiting the house where the marijuana was being grown would lead necessarily to the conclusion that the accused was involved in a conspiracy to grow it. The judge had to admit that it did not. However, he then in effect made a speech for the prosecution, in which he ‘reminded’ the jurors that there was lots of other evidence that should be put together with the evidence of the accused’s visit to the house and which might enable a conclusion of conspiracy to be reached. But a conclusion beyond all reasonable doubt ..?
 
The judge’s amazing bias was brought even more forcefully to light after the jury returned a guilty verdict when, refusing to allow the accused bail for the two weeks he would have to wait before his sentence was handed down, he outrageously stated that this was because the accused was a danger to society!
 
Of this there was no evidence whatsoever. As far as this middle-class white judge is concerned, no doubt the resentment that all and any disadvantaged working-class person might quite rightly feel at the way society treats him necessarily turns him into a danger to society, especially if he is black! We can expect a vicious sentence, even though the accused had no previous convictions of any kind.
 
The same judge had also demonstrated the paranoia felt by the bourgeoisie and its servants when confronting the oppressed masses when he turned at the beginning of the trial on members of the public sitting quietly in the public gallery taking notes.
 
Besides accusing the whole public gallery of ‘insolence’, a charge which was entirely uncalled for, he demanded assurances that these notes were not being taken with a view to using them for coaching witnesses who were not allowed to be present at the proceedings. One wonders whether members of the public in question might have found themselves charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, were it not for the fact that there were no defence witnesses to be called other than the defendant’s mother.
 
The whole thing makes a mockery of the concept of a public trial (as opposed to the trials held behind closed doors so favoured by enemies of bourgeois democracy) if any member of the public who dares sit in the public trial is to be considered a criminal.
 
Of course, to pass on information to witnesses about the course of the trial it would be quite unnecessary to take notes. The real reason why notes represent a threat is that they constitute evidence untainted by fading memory of what actually happened in court, leaving less wriggle-room for travesties of justice to be dressed up as the rule of law.
 
The law of joint enterprise and the role of the media
 
The terror felt by the bourgeoisie in the face of the alienation that the capitalist system produces among oppressed workers is also shown by developments in the law of ‘joint enterprise’, according to which people who might at one time have been guilty of being accomplices to the commission of a crime (generally attracting a lesser sentence) are made guilty with the accused of the crime itself.
 
In the case of murder, such a conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, even where the role of the accomplice was very minor – for example, pointing out to the murderer where his intended victim lives.
 
This area of law is fraught with difficulties of interpretation, which we will deal with below. However, if these draconian legal provisions are married up to bourgeois media hysteria against ‘gangs’ of working-class youth who supposedly make it unsafe for old ladies to venture out of their homes, the effect is explosively unfair.
 
The media spreads dread and fear of any group of working-class adolescents leaving school together at the same time – ie, when the school closes for the day – who will transmogrify in the yellow press into a ‘gang’. Any misbehaviour on the part of bored teenagers, such as the loud use of bad language, insults directed at adolescents from a different class or school, squabbles over alleged infringements of adolescent ‘rights’ such as ‘ownership’ of boyfriends or girlfriends, are transformed by the media into criminally threatening behaviour.
 
Strident demands are then put forward that these ‘gangs’ should be ruthlessly suppressed by the full force of police brutality and the bourgeois state apparatus. If such a ‘gang’ resorts to fisticuffs to resolve its differences, the hysteria becomes deafening – and if some idiot pulls out a knife and stupidly kills somebody, then the heavens really fall.
 
The media take advantage of such an event to bring the petty bourgeoisie and the better-off sections of the working class on board to share the terror that the bourgeoisie has of the disenfranchised and disadvantaged young people of Britain. Not only is the whole ‘gang’ presented as responsible for what one idiot did, but every ‘gang’ (ie, every group of bored working-class adolescents) is tarred with the same brush.
 
All of them become ‘feral gangs’, weapons of mass destruction liable without the slightest provocation to take out their knives to cut up defenceless old ladies at any moment of the day or night.
 
‘Practical’ considerations prevail over ‘strict logic’
 
If the law of ‘joint enterprise’ is – and it is – a complete mess of contradictory and irrational ‘principles’, this is not unrelated to the fact that Her Majesty’s judiciary has shamelessly trailed in the wake of Her Majesty’s yellow press, which in turn expresses the fear the ruling class has of the oppressed, as well as its contempt for them and indifference to the deprivation that the bourgeois system inflicts on them.
 
In the view of that well-known toady of British imperialism Lord Hutton, it matters not that legal decisions are illogical and self-contradictory so long as ‘gang’ members can be banged up. To quote from his speech in a case called ‘R v Powell’, reported in 1999:
 
“The rules of the common law are not based solely on logic but relate to practical concerns and, in relation to crimes committed in the course of joint enterprises, to the need to give effective protection to the public against criminals operating in gangs ... There are practical considerations of weight and importance related to considerations of public policy which ... prevail over considerations of strict logic.”
 
Some case law
 
Well, let us look at some of the effects of these departures from ‘strict logic’ to see whether they make us proud enough of the British ‘justice’ system to feel it is superior at least to some feudal system such as that operative in Saudi Arabia.
 
To be found guilty of murder, a person must not only have physically caused another person’s death but also have intended either to kill him or to cause him grievous – severe – bodily harm.
 
To be found guilty of murder by association in ‘joint enterprise’, however, not only does the defendant not have to have been the cause of the victim’s death, but, in addition it is not even necessary to show that he intended him any harm!
 
This is the legal ‘principle’ laid down by the highest court in the land in such cases as ‘R v Powell’ mentioned above. The law lords were asked to rule whether to be equally guilty of a murder committed by the primary party it would be necessary for the secondary party to intend him to die or be seriously injured, or whether it would only be necessary to foresee that he might be.
 
In the case in question, a pub brawl took place in which the victim was killed with a knife at a time when the defendant, perhaps wanting no part of what his friends were doing in their alcohol-fuelled aggression, had walked out of the pub. However, because the defendant knew that one of his friends was armed with a knife and therefore would have been able to foresee that he might possibly use it, he was found to be as guilty of murder as the murderer, albeit there was no evidence that he endorsed either murder or grievous bodily harm.
 
Indeed, he may have been strongly opposed to both but been in no position to do anything about it. Yet he was still found guilty of murder and therefore subjected to a mandatory sentence of imprisonment for life.
 
To avoid conviction under the ‘joint enterprise’ charge, a defendant needs to show he would have been unable to foresee that a knife would be used – ie, that he did not even know about the knife. But even that principle was undermined in the ‘Rahman’ case of 2008, where the evidence accepted by the court was that the defendants, in the course of a confrontation between rival groups of youths, had armed themselves with various weapons intending to inflict serious injury.
 
One of the defendants took out a knife and killed the victim. It was possible in law for his companions to be found to be as guilty of murder as the one who pulled the knife simply because it was foreseeable to those participating in the attack that any one of them might have armed himself with a knife and might use it.
 
However, the judge who decided the case had neglected to ask the jury to assess whether in fact the defendant could have foreseen it. The foresight could not be inferred but had to be established by the jury as a question of fact. As a result, the companions of the murderer were able to escape conviction on the basis of the judge’s misdirection of the jury that had lost them the chance of getting off.
 
Had the required question actually been put to the jury in the charged atmosphere of an English criminal trial – which definitely tends to create the impression that the accused must be guilty otherwise he would not be on trial – it is unlikely the companions would have been so lucky.
 
Even more distressing is the use of this ‘principle’ of joint venture against children in their early teens. As we write, a boy of 14 who backed away from a scrap his friends were having and went off to his grandparents’ house is serving life for a murder committed after he left the scene by a 13-year old with a knife his co-defendant did not even know he had.
 
The prosecution’s case was that a group of schoolboys had wantonly attacked an innocent student with miscellaneous weapons intending to seriously injure him. At some stage, one of the alleged attackers decided he wanted no part of the fracas and went off to his grandfather’s house. Some time after he left, one of the youths pulled out a knife and killed the victim.
 
We do not have a transcript of the judgment in the case, but one assumes that the jury, faced with what was presented to them as a ‘gang’ of black adolescents, was prepared to believe that all those who had been involved in the fracas – a schoolboy scrap that went tragically wrong – could foresee the possibility of one of them having a knife and using it – despite the fact that carrying and using knives is not a particularly normal act for any 13-year old, no matter what their class or skin colour. Such a finding of ‘fact’ shows clearly the influence of racist prejudices that are continually fostered by the corporate press.
 
The extraordinary part of the decision was that the boy who had left the scene was found by the jury beyond all reasonable doubt (!!) to be guilty of murder, since he had been present when the fight broke out and had therefore ‘participated in the joint enterprise’. The irrationality of the jury’s findings of ‘fact’ was further demonstrated when they accepted the prosecution’s claim that the ‘gang’ had attacked the student with various weapons – a claim that was supported by witnesses.
 
This evidence, however, was contradicted by forensic evidence that proved the victim had not been injured in any way prior to the fatal blow, but the forensic evidence apparently caused no reasonable doubt as regards the veracity of the evidence of those who testified that they had witnessed the defendant assaulting the victim.
 
Of course, the defendant is poor, working class and black – which are his three real crimes. The important thing, however, is that our wonderful English law is incapable of distinguishing a person who realises before anybody is killed that this is nothing he ever wanted to be involved in from a person who fails to step back from the precipice before it’s too late and someone dies.
 
To add insult to injury, although lifers are eligible for parole after some years, they have to show that they repent what they have done ... But this young man did absolutely nothing. He is not even able to ‘repent’ and get his parole without confessing to something of which he was not guilty.
 
Although juries can be and are routinely manipulated, nevertheless we take the view that it is better that there should be a jury than that questions of fact be established by judges alone, as there is, on the whole, a better chance of receiving justice from one’s peers than from a judge whose life experience and class background are a million miles away from that of those on whom he sits in judgment.
 
Dealing with alienated youth
 
No doubt the anti-social behaviour of groups of bored teenagers is annoying and maybe even occasionally intimidating. The answer, however, does not lie in trying to prevent teenagers from forming friendships by castigating groups of friends as criminal gangs.
 
It lies in providing young people with constructive and interesting ways of spending their time – by making sports facilities and youth clubs available to them, providing facilities that enable them to pursue interests in music, art, etc, which not only prevents them from being bored but assists them in becoming assets to society.
 
What happens under capitalism, however, is that the needs of working-class people are consistently ignored, and in a period of economic crisis such as the one we are currently undergoing, what few facilities might previously have been wrested from a reluctant bourgeoisie are heartlessly closed down.
 
The young in particular both tend to be headstrong and to have nothing much to lose and do from time to time rise up in rebellion at the cultural desert to which they are confined, whereupon the bourgeoisie does everything in its power to crush them, and to terrorise into submission anybody else who might be thinking of following their example.
 
In our view, even the young people who have committed crimes and must be punished, like the 13-year old who did stab the student, need to be treated with compassion with a view to their rehabilitation rather than being discarded like a faulty part. However, this too would require resources that the bourgeoisie does not want to waste on the working class, even though it is the working class that has produced the wealth that the bourgeoisie is able to wield.
 
Here again, the bourgeois press is mobilised to justify the bourgeoisie’s callousness towards young criminals and the public is pressganged into believing that anyone who commits crimes as a teenager can never be rehabilitated. Well, that is certainly true if no attempt is ever made to facilitate the process!
 
Under socialism the wealth produced by society will be distributed by the proletarian state for the benefit of the workers – and it will certainly be a priority to bring its disadvantaged members up to the level of the others and eliminate attitudes of alienation from society inherited from the class society that has been overthrown.
 
Our youth will be our most precious asset, representing as it does, the future of humanity, and every effort will be made to ensure that each and every young person is able to develop their talents and to give to society everything of which he or she is capable, and no person is, with all their skills and potential, discarded and left to rot as they are under capitalism.

** For more information about the joint enterprise law and the campaign against unjust convictions, please see JENGbA - Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association **
 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

“X FACTOR STAR’S KILLER COUSINS”

“X FACTOR STAR’S KILLER COUSINS”
 
...is the front page headline of today’s The Sun.  The X factor competitor Sterling Ramsay and his group Rough Copy were last weekend chosen by Gary Barlow represent him in the live shows. So The Sun does its muck raking and discovers his cousins are in prison convicted of the murder of Tarek Chaiboub in Spital Hill, Sheffield in 2008.
 
What The Sun does not say is that they are serving life sentences because they were convicted under joint enterprise.  In fact Nigel Ramsey, even though he was in prison at the time of the shooting, was still convicted and given a minimum 35 year sentence.  One would imagine that for someone to receive such a long sentence there must have been damning evidence against him.  What was the evidence used against Nigel?  A phone call from prison to his brother Denzil 4 hours before the shooting. 
 
Using joint enterprise means this type of tenuous evidence is put to the court, the suggestion being that Nigel was 'calling the shots'.  Which is another ‘fact’ the Sun want the public to believe – that they were ‘gang’ members.  They were not and nor did they shoot Tarek.  The police called them the S3 gang; this is the South Yorkshire Police, those bastions of truth and justice that are still trying to dodge the corruption that led them to cover up the evidence of incompetence surrounding the deaths of  96 Liverpool supporters.  The Sun, to this day is hated by Liverpudlians and not bought by them because they printed the lies the South Yorkshire Police force were trying to promote.
 
So let JENGbA set some of the record straight when it comes to the Ramseys who we are supporting along with their family who are fighting to prove their innocence.  The evidence against them was that Nigel called his brother from prison to settle a score with a ‘gang’ rival.  No evidence was presented in court as to the conversation the brothers had, just cell site to say they had spoken.  This is the first assumption.
 
 Denzil and his friends were captured on CCTV in Meadowhall wearing bright coloured T. shirts less than 2 hours before the shooting, yet witnesses said Tarek was shot by men wearing black clothing and balaclavas.  The police said they left the mall changed their clothes and shot Tarek in Spital Hill but the time frame makes this impossible.  Here is the second misleading assumption. 
 
The main evidence used by the police against the first four defendants was a gun that the police found hidden in a local park which they claimed was the murder weapon.  There was no forensic evidence, DNA or otherwise on this gun to link it to Denzil (couldn't have been Nigel as he is inside a prison) or his other co-defendants yet the police insisted they must have hidden it there.  The third and most damning assumption.
 
So the ‘evidence’ used was tenuous at best, not helped by the fact the Sheffield Star the local rag, damned them from the outset of the trial using information that could only have been fed to them by the police.  A common practice but not one that many people realise.
 
However, there was a second trial and five more men were charged with Tarek’s murder using a joint enterprise manslaughter charge.  Remember, little or no real evidence is needed in these multi-handed trials; it is purely guilt by association and if you put five black men in the dock and call them a gang repeatedly, especially with a postcode name S3 which is simply where the Ramsey brothers lived,  that is what the jury chose to believe. The police don't lie do they? Nor would a highly educated prosecutor working for the CPS.  Nigel and Denzil's mum Shirley attended court to watch the second trial desperate to see if any evidence was used in this trial that could be used in her sons’ appeal. She knew they were innocent and was completely baffled as to how they had been found guilty.  She was right, there was. A lawyer in the second trial used a different forensic expert regarding the gun the Police had said was the murder weapon.  This expert said that the bullet from the victim could not have been fired from this weapon as it was to all intents useless and incapable of firing anything. After this gem of a revelation the prosecution’s case against those five innocent men was dismissed.
 
This ‘gem’ gave the Ramsey family hope. If the gun that the police and prosecutors claim was the murder weapon was in fact fabricated evidence then it should not have been used in their trial either.  This was seemingly solid grounds for appeal and JENGbA was with the family when they came to London for Nigel and Denzil's appeal to the Royal Courts of Justice in 2011.
 
The Appeal Judges listened to the argument but would not let the forensic expert at the second trial address them, even though the appeal lawyers wanted them to hear his testimony and explain his findings. The judges came to their decision literally in a matter of minutes.  Appeal dismissed. Their judgement was that the lawyers in the original trial should have used a better forensic expert!  So Nigel Ramsey is serving 35 years for a phone call and Denzil 25 years for being in a made up gang by the police with no proof he was at the scene or committed the murder. This is when JENGbA realised how shocking decisions can be made in the court of Appeal.  Shocking is one word for what we witnessed - corruption is another.
 
The Ramsey family are still fighting to get Justice for their boys and JENGbA will support them all the way. Their case is typical of the lengths the police and prosecution will go to secure convictions.  And while we all wish Nigel and Denzil's cousin and Rough Copy all the best for success on the X factor, Sterling should stand up for them, because they are not killers and papers like the Sun are one of the reasons prisoners like them and the hundreds of other innocent men and women  are serving such lengthy sentences in the first place. They will they print the lies the Police want the public to believe, they will print the lies the State want the public to believe, and sadly the public believes it because the police and prosecutors don't lie - do they? 
 

 
This is a picture of Nigel and Denzil - it is very different to the one shown in the paper, another little ploy of the media to show how 'criminal' the killers look.  Please contact them to show your support for their struggle.

 
Denzel Ramsay, A6690AD,
Nigel Ramsay, A8154AG, both at
HMP Whitemoor, Longhill Road, March, Cambs PE15 0PR

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association By Gloria Morrison

Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association

By Gloria Morrison

03rd Oct 2013
Last summer I was interviewed for the SMK London Social Justice Award which I was unexpectedly shortlisted for. I didn’t know what to expect but it was certainly an intensive interview and when I came out I phoned another JENGbA campaigner and told her that we wouldn’t have won it.  This is not necessarily because I am modest, it is because of the nature of our grassroots campaign. Criminal Justice and miscarriages of justice are something I believe has, for various reasons, been pushed to the wayside.  It may have taken the Birmingham 6 and Guildford 4 nearly two decades to get justice but they got it.  Look at the Hillsborough Campaign nearly 25 years on and they  are still fighting for justice for the 96 killed and covered up by the authorities.  I just presumed our campaign was too political to be recognised as important.  How wrong I was and how proud I was to receive the Award sponsored by Trust for London last month at the SMK awards ceremony.
This is a really important achievement for a campaign like JENGbA’s. When we launched the campaign Lord Ouseley was alerted to the abuse of Joint Enterprise and he was very concerned about how it would target Afro-Caribbean youths in the capital.  He put the question to the House of Lords asking for data on numbers of people being charged using Joint Enterprise.  Lord McNally (Minister of State) responded that Joint Enterprise was a useful tool in tackling crimes committed by gangs and that a small minority of gang member families were unhappy about their sentences.  The SMK Award is further vindication that I and JENGbA are not ‘gang member families’.  We are ordinary members of the public who cannot stand by and let innocent people go to prison, serving life sentences for something they were not responsible for.  JENGbA asked Chris Grayling to respond himself to the a letter in which we asked how, in the instance of a spontaneous act of violence, that had no formal plan or shared intent, could a large group all be convicted.  His response, which he did indeed reply himself, said that we must be aware that a plan is not necessary, ‘a knowing look’ would be enough to convict. We have asked the 400 plus prisoners we are now supporting whether the judge used the ‘nod or a wink’ or ‘knowing look’ in their trial.  Not surprisingly a large number have written to us and said it was.
We simply cannot allow a justice system to allow such spurious and untenable evidence that can send someone to prison for 30 years. One of the questions I was also asked in the SMK interview was who was the campaigner I most admired. I wasn’t sure but answered I would hope anyone like me.  I did not mean that arrogantly – what I meant was anyone who hears about Joint Enterprise or any other miscarriage of justice and decides to do something about it.  I would hope that everyone subscribed to the SMK newsletter reading this is that person, and will join our campaign, sign our petition and not allow the British Justice System to continue to sleepwalk into the same tactics that were used in Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa.
Gloria Morrison Campaign Co-ordinator JENGbA

Thursday, 3 October 2013