Monday, June 18, 2007

England: Two gang members found guilty of murdering a Nottingham schoolgirl in a drive-by shooting have challenged the safety of their convictions

BBC News:

Junior Andrews (left) and Mark Kelly were sentenced to 32 years each

Mark Kelly, 23, and Junior Andrews, 26, were convicted of murdering 14-year-old Danielle Beccan in October 2005.

She was killed when a gang opened fire on a group of people as they returned from the city's annual Goose Fair.

Three Court of Appeal judges in London are hearing submissions that the convictions were "unsafe".

Legal argument is expected to take at least one day and it is not yet known if the judges will announce a decision immediately or give their ruling in a written judgment at a later date.

Andrews' barrister Orlando Pownall QC argued the trial judge "should not have acceded" to a request by the prosecution to have statements made by Andrews' former girlfriend read to the jury.

He said that without the written testimony of his former girlfriend, Natalie Gee, the prosecution would have had "no case" against him and the trial judge would have been obliged to dismiss the murder charge.

Kelly's lawyer said the trial judge failed to "adequately or fairly reflect" his defence in the summing up of the case to the jury.

During the original trial, lawyers described a culture of gangs, drugs and guns, and a long-held feud between two districts of Nottingham - the Meadows and St Ann's.

The jury returned 10-2 majority verdicts after 16 hours of deliberations.

Jailing the defendants for life, trial judge Mr Justice Butterfield ordered them to serve a minimum of 32 years each before they could be considered for parole.

They were given permission to appeal against their convictions at a hearing in February when they were also given the go-ahead to appeal against the length of their minimum terms.

Robbed of life for nothing

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