VHS Fletchers, as well as dealing with current criminal cases, also hold a contract with the Legal Aid Agency to provide advice on prison law matters and appeals. This means that the advice, assistance and representation that we are able to give does not cease at the conclusion of any current criminal case. We will be able to advise and assist in any joint enterprise appeals.
This is of importance to two clients that our prison law specialist Irene Tolley represented at trial in 2004, when working for Varley Hadley Siddall solicitors.
At the time the case was one said to have ‘made British legal history’ , with the prosecutor announcing that he did not know of any comparable case. The officer in the case described the prosecution as ‘unprecedented’, with the Crown Prosecution Service describing the case as ‘the first of its kind’.
On behalf of the clients Irene and counsel pursued appeals to the Court of Appeal and subsequently to the Criminal Cases Review Commission but without success.
Following legal developments earlier in the year set out below, Irene was in the process of locating the clients as they made contact with her.
On 18 February 2016 the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgement in the case of R v Jogee.
This ‘re-stated’ the principles of criminal joint enterprise in murder trial’s. The court decided that for the last 30 years the interpretation of the law had been in error, ‘…equat[ing] foresight with an intention to assist, as a matter of law; the correct approach is to treat it as evidence of intent’.
The difference now is that a jury must be sure that a secondary party, a person who did not themselves carry out the fatal act, must now intend that the offence is carried out before they can be convicted of murder.
The Supreme Court were careful, however, to stress that the decision would not open the floodgates to 30 years of appeals on this issue:
‘…it does not follow that it will have been important on the facts to the outcome of the trial or to the safety of the conviction. Moreover, where a conviction has been arrived at by faithfully applying the law as it stood at the time, it can be set aside only by seeking exceptional leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal out of time. That court has power to grant such leave, and may do so if substantial injustice be demonstrated, but it will not do so simply because the law applied has now been declared to have been mistaken…’
As a result, the pursuit of any appeal after such a period of time cannot simply rely upon a perceived ‘change of law’ in joint enterprise. Prospective appellants will have to demonstrate that as a result there has been ‘substantial injustice’ to the individual looking at the case as a whole.
Irene, along with original counsel, are taking these appeals forward, but there is much further work to do.
Should you wish to discuss a potential joint enterprise appeal with Irene, please contact her at the Nottingham office by letter or telephone 0115 9599550. Alternatively, she can be contacted by email here.
Irene is able to assist with other appeals and a range if prison law matters. Information about that can be found here.