Hope in the case of Gerard Childs
In December 2013 my fiancé Gerard Childs was convicted of murder using the doctrine of joint enterprise. He was involved in an affray in a retail park in Prescot Liverpool in July 2013. Gerard was approached by a man in an aggressive manner and consequently in self defence Gerard threw a punch at him. He missed and a scuffle occurred. A friend of Gerard’s saw Gerard was in a threatening position and ran toward the scuffle. He pulled the man away from Gerard, lost his footing and they both fell to the ground. Immediately both got back up and Gerard’s friend punched the man once and knocked him unconscious. He then punched him again as he fell. The entire thing lasted just 10-15 seconds. The trial proved this first punch was the fatal punch and the man died the next day from a haemorrhage. No weapons were used or present and the deceased incurred two injuries in total, both admitted by Gerard’s friend. Gerard’s family, friends and I thought the trial couldn’t have gone any better. We were defending against murder and clearly all the evidence suggested Gerard had not murdered or even hurt anyone. No evidence was against him and clearly in our minds he was going to be acquitted. Unfortunately that was not the case; using possible foresight the CPS were able to convict both of murder. Gerard was sentenced to life with a minimum of 10 years to serve and his friend life with a minimum of 11 years. This clearly was not justice and we vowed to fight for it. So Gerard’s mum contacted JENGbA.
I attended a Cuban Five meeting along with other JENGbA campaigners and gained a lot of signatures for the petition. It’s good to meet with people who are also fighting a cause, they just get it. Next there was a protest in Manchester and again we had a lot of sympathy for our case and support from the public. Since the screening of Jimmy McGovern’s film “Common” we have all been extremely busy keeping joint enterprise in the public domain. Firstly I wrote to my local MP, the prime minister, Nick Clegg deputy prime minister, leader of the Labour party Ed Milliband and the chair of the Justice Select Committee Sir Alan Beith. I explained to them the injustice of Gerard’s case and that he was refused leave to appeal in April 2014. I had not had a positive response and for a while and all hope was lost. His legal team however assured us they would not rest until they got him the justice he deserves. They agreed to renew his application on a pro bono basis. Whilst we waited for the appeal date, we continued to campaign and write letters.
Next stop London. This was the biggest march so far with plenty of JENGbA campaigners attending in support of their loved ones wrongly convicted using joint enterprise. We caused quite a stir in the town centre and marched proud with our banners chanting “Joint enterprise is a court full of lies” and “no justice, no peace”. We then received the hearing date of the leave to appeal and we attended the Royal Courts of Justice in July 2014. Gerard was granted leave to appeal. The reasons were: there being no evidence of a joint enterprise and no evidence of the murderous intent. There was plenty of public interest and one magazine printed; “Rainhill men win leave to appeal against joint enterprise murder convictions”. In it they suggested Gerard had won the right because of the acknowledgement of the injustice Jimmy had portrayed in his film:
“Two weeks after the screening of Jimmy McGovern’s harrowing TV drama Common, judges in London have granted two men serving life sentences leave to appeal against their convictions.”
Another article was printed in the Liverpool Echo about both Gerard’s and Jordan Cunliffe’s cases. The article read “Merseyside mums fight law which saw their sons jailed for murder”. It told the true story of that day and highlighted that joint enterprise was a 300 year old law which is imprisoning innocent people. This was a massive shift as this particular newspaper slated Gerard and his co-defendant throughout their trial. Just goes to show that the ideologies are shifting in the right direction.
The next important venue for JENGbA was the House of Commons for the select committee inquiry. I had already made a written submission on behalf of Gerard which concluded that the trial evidence did not permit him to be charged with murder in the first place. Shortly afterwards I received an email from the Justice Committee clerk explaining that the committee were aware that Gerard had been given permission to appeal. This came as a shock as the only explanation they would know this was that they must have been following his case through the courts. Again I travelled to London and plenty of JENGbA members attended and silently egged on our panel. The evidence I felt went as expected; all in our favour to say the least. After all, the injustices and inequalities of joint enterprise speak volumes in tragic real life cases. Our panel simply and brilliantly proved this. Following the meeting we rushed over the road to meet with ITV news North West region who conducted an interview with Jan and Gerard’s mum Mandy about the inquiry and Gerard’s case. We all posed for photos sporting our JENGbA T-shirts and wristbands which aired that evening on TV. BBC and SKY News also aired interviews regarding the inquiry.
I am confident that with the help of JENGbA Gerard’s appeal against a joint enterprise murder conviction will be a success and will bring hope to everyone wrongfully convicted under joint enterprise.
NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!
HOPE IS WHAT KEEPS US GOING. OUR HOPE KEEPS US STRONG AND HELPS US MOTIVATE TOWARDS OUR GOALS. SO NEVER GIVE UP HOPE NO MATTER HOW HARD THINGS SEEM RIGHT NOW.