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Friday 19 February 2016

Lawrence Killers - Not Coming Out

The Murdoch Sun has hundreds of hacks on its books. It has the services of top lawyers to call upon. Yet, after the Supreme Court ruled that the so-called Joint Enterprise Law had been misinterpreted for the past 30 years, it went ahead anyway with a claim that one of the two convicted of murdering teenager Stephen Lawrence in a racially motivated attack in 1993 could be freed as a result. It won’t happen.
Stephen Lawrence killer Gary Dobson one of up to 500 killers who could go free after shock legal U-turn … Law allowing conviction of gang members even if they didn’t strike fatal blow challengedproclaims the headline, with the story even getting a teaser on today’s front page. Dobson’s dad was quoted at length, telling in Ron Hopeful fashion that “they locked up an innocent boy in the first place”.

The Sun’s article goes on to tell “During the 2011-2012 trial of Dobson and David Norris, prosecutors argued it did not matter whether the pair had carried out the actual stabbing of Stephen … Under joint enterprise, they were deemed to have been able to ‘foresee’ one of their group would carry out a violent act”. That is not the point.

We can see this as the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Treacy are available online, and the relevant comments are contained in Paragraphs 6 to 8. He stated “The evidence does not prove so that I could be sure that either of you had a knife, but the person who used it did so with your knowledge and approval … The cohesive nature of the group tells its story. It is not as if, for example, one person unexpectedly did something that no one else expected or approved of … The way in which the attack took place strongly suggests to me that your group, if not actively seeking out a victim, was prepared, if opportunity arose, to attack in the way in which you did” [my emphases].

It is not a case of whether Dobson and Norris might have “foreseen” the attack: the group with which both were involved acted with a singular purpose and its actions took place with the clear approval of all present. Those actions included the attack on Stephen Lawrence.

And if there were any doubt as to the shakiness of the Sun’s report, one need only look at the judgment handed down by Lord Neuberger at the Supreme Court. He said “A person who joins in a crime, which any reasonable person would realise involves a risk of harm, and death then results, is guilty at least of manslaughter”. The maximum sentence for such a crime is life imprisonment. And there is more.

He also confirmed that “The rule that ‘a person who intentionally encourages or assists the commission of a crime is as guilty as the person who physically commits it’ was not affected”. Add those two observations to Mr Justice Treacy’s sentencing remarks from the Dobson and Norris trail and it can be easily seen why Gary Dobson will not be going anywhere soon. And if I can see that, so can the massed ranks of hacks at the Sun.

This is shoddy and irresponsible reporting of the most blatant kind. No change there, then.

[And hello Daily Mirror, don’t think you got away unnoticed. Your splash is crap as well]


Anonymous said...

The maximum sentence for manslaughter might be life, but let's not pretend people actually get life sentences for manslaughter.

Four to ten years seems to be the average, so this ruling could have a bigger impact than Tim is willing to concede.

rob said...

To anyone listening to the Supreme Court's ruling, a video of which could have been found easily on the net, it was plainly obvious that it had a strictly limited effect and applied in certain circumsatnces only.

One can only surmise that The Sun is attempting to persuade/mislead it's declining readership that the "law is an ass" and any attempt to put their own behind bars, not the beverage serving type which would have been OK, was wrong.

The Sun being disingenuous, misleading and distorting truth and fact. No change there then.

Nemo said...

Anon at 10:47
A life sentence for manslaughter means that a prisoner can only be released on licence if a parole board agrees. Note that there is a big difference between someone getting a life sentence for causing death by dangerous driving and someone involved in a gang attack where somebody is killed.