Criminal Team updates and reminiscences

Criminal Team updates and reminiscences thumbnail

Wilberforce Chambers most recent tenant, Joanna Hawkett has been considering the decision made last week in the Court of Appeal in overturning the murder conviction of John Crilly.

The decision was of course made on the basis of the decision in R v Jogee in 2016 previously considered by Dale Brook in February 2016.  The case of John Crilly was the first to successfully appeal on the basis of the decision made by the Supreme Court in Jogee which established that for cases involving secondary participation in murder, the test is intention and not foresight. Several members of the criminal team have been involved in considering past cases with consideration of appeals or renewed appeals.

Criminal team leader John Thackray informed Joanna that Wilberforce Chambers has a successful history of overturning murder convictions as a result of subsequent changes in the law. In 1999 John Thackray was junior counsel to Macolm Swift QC in the locally high profile case of the murder of the “tobacco man.” Four Hull men were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The decision in R v Powell and R v English 1999 was made after the trial judge had already summed up the law. That formed part of the basis upon which the appeal was founded and leave to appeal was granted. In the event, the court exceptionally allowed the appeal in full on the basis that the facts did not support the convictions.

The decision in the case of John Crilly was quite different. His conviction was reduced to manslaughter and the decision confirms the view that the anticipated floodgate of appeals will not materialise because as was confirmed in Johnson 2016 EWCA Crim 1613, in fact in some cases the prosecution case would be said to be stronger post Jogee. Accordingly, successful appeals will be few in number.