Further to the decision by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal in October the Court of Appeal has upheld the view by refusing to overturn the guilty verdicts of 13 men convicted of group attacks. The challenges were based on the Supreme Courts ruling in R v Jogee said that it was wrong to treat ‘foresight’ as a sufficient test to convict a defendant under joint enterprise.
The joint enterprise law had previously meant that defendants would be convicted only if they could have foreseen that a murder or violent act was likely to take place. However, the Supreme Court said that judges had taken a wrong turn in the 1980’s in the way they interpreted the law.
On the 31st October the Court of Appeal rejected the appeals and in handing down its judgement Lord Thomas, lord chief justice, said that the Supreme Court’s judgment would ‘not have made a difference’ to the jury’s verdict in the trial of Tyler Burton and Nicholas Terrelonge, found guilty of murder in London in 2014 and that the convictions ‘were and are safe’.
The ruling echoes the decision of the Northern Ireland court of Appeal that clearly stated that a change in the law is not a passport to the quashing of a conviction. To bring a successful challenge an appellant will still have to show that the change in the law would have made a difference on the consideration of the evidence by the jury and therefore the conviction is unsafe.
There has been mixed reaction from the legal community but it is unlikely the position will change and those convicted under the ‘old’ law will not simply have a fast track to reconsideration of their convictions.