Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Another Miscarriage Of Justice In The Case Of Asher & Lewis Johnson

“Five charged with stabbing a suspected gangster, Thomas Cudjoe, to death in the garage forecourt of the Shell petrol station in Ley St, Ilford.”

On the evening of Friday November 2nd 2012 Asher Johnson (aged 24) attended an old neighbour’s birthday party in Ley St, Ilford.  

During that evening Asher decided to meet up with a couple of friends in the Bell pub for a couple of drinks before his friend picked them up later in a car to go clubbing.   

Asher Johnson’s younger brother, Lewis Johnson (aged 21), arrived later at the pub on his own at 12pm and the idea was to have a few drinks, play pool and wait for their friend to arrive later.

Once the brothers had finished drinking and decided to leave the pub (which backs on to the forecourt of the petrol station) there was an altercation between Asher Johnson and Thomas Cudjoe. 

Lewis Johnson stood back during this whole ordeal and did not get involved in any way whatsoever. 

Asher Johnson threw a couple of punches at Thomas Cudjoe and quickly withdrew from the scene with his brother Lewis Johnson, as a few other people arrived at the scene and Asher Johnson could tell that there was going to be some kind of further trouble which he did not want to be involved in. 

After Asher and Lewis Johnson had departed from the scene, Thomas Cudjoe was stabbed to death by Jerome Green, the victim is said to have had 10 stab wounds to his chest and legs and also 4 slash wounds. Whilst Jerome Green was stabbing Thomas Cudjoe, Courtney Mitchell was holding the front passenger side door, therefore, preventing Thomas from escaping and as all of this was occurring, Reece Garwood was in the back of the vehicle, having a physical fight with the victim’s friend. 

All 5 men were charged with murder under joint enterprise, even though it was clear on the CCTV that it was in fact Jerome Green who had committed the stabbing and murder. 

On the CCTV it clearly shows that Asher and Lewis Johnson both withdrew from the scene before the weapon (knife) was produced and before any stabbing took place, and yet, they were still charged with murder.

During the trial the judge even mentioned that he had been watching the CCTV all weekend and that different charges must apply to the Johnson brothers, which could have been Violent Disorder or ABH (as manslaughter was not applicable to them) so therefore, they would be tried separately to the other co-defendants.

There was only one killer and this was admitted in court. On Friday July 26th 2013 they found the first 3 co-defendants guilty of murder, Reece Garwood and Courtney Mitchell being convicted on presence and Jerome Green for actually carrying out the murder. That same day, later in the afternoon, the jury also convicted Asher and Lewis Johnson of murder on a majority, rushed into a verdict in an hour as the Judge had somewhere to be at 4pm that day. The jury had also mentioned that they wanted to leave early as it was too hot. The judge had mentioned that if they did not reach a verdict in that hour then there would have to be a retrial for the Johnson Brothers.

This, the family feel, would have been much fairer as it can be noted that the judge seems to have pushed the jury into making a decision when they clearly had little guidance and no knowledge of the joint enterprise guidelines which were introduced in December 2012 to prevent mistakes such as the one made in this case whereby people are wrongly convicted.
Does this now lead to mean that if you argue with someone and that same person is later attacked when you have left the scene that you are guilty of murder? That is complete and utter madness!

The boys’ mother feels the trial was carried out unfairly, none of Asher Johnson’s good character was heard, and a deal was done which was all or nothing (guilty or not guilty of murder) which the family and Johnson brothers had no knowledge of. Two jury members were constantly asleep and one female jury member was seen crying on one occasion.
How in the United Kingdom can one be convicted of a crime he did not commit or did not foresee happening? How can a person be given a conviction of a crime like murder and then be told by their legal team that they cannot appeal, knowing the entire trial was a shambles and that the jury had evidentially made a mistake.
Asher Johnson

Asher Johnson is a loving son and brother, he has a further two younger siblings, a sister of 5 and a brother of 13. He has always been a kind, easy going and laid back, gentle young man. He has never been involved in any violence before. Asher Johnson was playing football for his local boroughs team at semi-pro level and was also working as a youth worker 3 days a week. Under no circumstances was Asher Johnson a gang member, he doesn’t even have any previous criminal record.

Lewis Johnson with his mother and grandmother

Lewis Johnson is also a very kind and caring brother and son, at the time of the incident prior to being in London for that particular weekend, Lewis Johnson was living with his grandma in Christchurch, Dorset; working for Thames Water. 

The family are devastated, especially the mother, as they were told that the boys would receive lesser charges, never murder.

The family are currently waiting for the boys to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday 13th September 2013. They are not accepting this miscarriage of justice and will be lodging a highly profiled appeal against this unbelievable conviction and yet to be known sentence. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Dark City Radio Round Table with Gloria Morrison Of JENGbA

This broadcast was supposed to last one hour but turned into two!  You can listen to the whole MP3 by clicking HERE

Joint Enterprise Made Simple by Joseph Appiah (age 17) – HMYOI Wetherby

Joe's article was first published in Inside Time's March 2012 issue. Joe is one of JENGbA's Inside Campaigners...

Joe Appiah
I am writing to inform and explain about the Joint Enterprise law. Until the publicity in early January I’m quite sure the majority of people had never heard of Joint Enterprise. Joint Enterprise is a power that can be used by prosecutors to charge and possibly convict a group of people regardless of whether they are guilty of the actual crime committed. The law has been in force for a long time but has been extensively used in the last few years as a means of combating ‘gang related’ murders. Under the Joint Enterprise law you can be convicted even if you were not at the scene of the crime, for calling someone on the phone who is in the area of the crime, for being with someone before or after they have committed the crime, or for even knowing that some sort of crime may take place! Although you may be at home in bed, many miles away from where the crime is committed, there is still a possibility that you can be convicted and sent to prison for life under Joint Enterprise.

How can the Joint Enterprise law in its present form be just? If you commit a crime you will be arrested, prosecuted and punished on the basis of what you did. But if you play a lesser part or no part at all why should you be tarred with the same brush and receive the same sentence as the person who committed the crime? I am currently serving life with a 12 year tariff for murder under Joint Enterprise. I have six co-defendants who are also serving sentences when the victim died from a single stab wound from one person. The culprit was clearly seen on CCTV committing the murder and was easily identifiable. Yes, we all set out to cause disorder as a group but someone acted on impulse and committed the murder, so why should we all be held responsible if our intentions were never the same as the murderer?

This law must be changed as Joint Enterprise is a prime example of injustice at work in this country.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

JENGbA Campaigner Ray Gilbert is told NO!

JENGbA received a call today from Guys Marsh where Ray is currently incarcerated. Ray, under duress 32 years ago confessed to a murder in Liverpool because he was told if he didn’t he would be killed.  Then, when as a 19 year old lad he realised he had made the wrong decision he has been protesting his innocence.  Because he is innocent – everyone who knows anything about miscarriages of justice knows Ray did not kill anyone.  Even the justice system after the campaigning work of Bruce Kent and PPMI (Promoting Prisoner Maintaining Innocence)  have supported his innocence as have most of the people in  Liverpool who know he did not commit the murder.  Ray Gilbert is now 17 years over tariff because he has maintained his innocence. 

So there was sorrow in his voice when he was told today – under a paper review that he was not going to get his Cat D.   The probation services have recommended his release on the outside; the probation service, inside the prison have recommended his progression towards release. Yet someone who has never met Ray, who does not have all his paperwork of the case has said no.  He is not after 32 years in prison allowed to progress.  The prison Governor told Ray it didn’t make sense. 

So JENGbA want to know what is going on here?  Who is Ray Gilbert a danger to?  He has had three town visits – every time after he called supporters and sounded so excited about his progression and positive about his future release.  He has served what would be a double life sentence, when others are released.  Is it because Ray has highlighted the system and the corruption in our Justice system – especially how the Police are prepared to frame vulnerable innocent men of colour.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Learning how an ‘unjust’ law is destroying families

A group of parents and legal professionals are campaigning to stop a law that they say is putting innocent young people in prison for crimes they did not commit. This week NOVA students were able to meet two of the campaigners.
Under UK criminal law when a violent crime is committed the main suspect can be convicted but so can those people who the court says have encouraged that person. This ancient law is called joint enterprise and in recent years it has been used to fight gang violence, with the result that many, mainly young people, are facing long prison sentences for crimes that they did not have a direct hand in.
Campaigners from Jengba, standing right, talk to students at NOVA about how they are trying to change a law that is sending innocent young people to prison.
Campaigners from Jengba, standing right, talk to students at NOVA about how they are trying to change a law that is sending innocent young people to prison.

Concern about how the law of joint enterprise is being used by the criminal justice system is growing, and a group of families and legal professionals have established the Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association (Jengba) group to campaign for the law to be changed and on behalf of those who have been convicted as a result of it.
Jengba recently became neighbours with NOVA New Opportunities in the office space both occupy in Portobello North Kensington. This was an opportunity for NOVA students and clients to find out more about joint enterprise and Jengba. Last Monday, Moira Conway, a literacy tutor at NOVA, organised a special presentation by two leading members of Jengba to talk about the work they do and their personal experience of this controversial law.
Moira said: “The passion and commitment of these two women really shone through. Several students who attended the event had personal experience of young people affected by this issue.
“All of us could appreciate the importance of increasing awareness about joint enterprise and of helping young people understand the risks under the current law.”
NOVA regularly organises workshops and events for students and clients that bring their local community alive and help raise awareness and practical knowledge. You can receive regular updates about NOVA events at NOVA’s Facebook page or visit our website.
For more information about Jengba’s campaign go to http://www.jointenterprise.co/
Read more about this area of the law here.