NEW guidelines might have saved my brother from prison, the sister of a convicted murderer claimed today.
Jordan Towers, of Ford Estate, was 16 when he was convicted of killing Kevin Johnson under the controversial joint enterprise law in 2007.
Now his sister Ashleigh Towers wants to highlight new guidelines on joint enterprise issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer
Towers, now 22, was one of three teenagers found guilty after Mr Johnson, 22, was stabbed to death outside his home in Partick Road, Pennywell.
London’s High Court heard that Towers did not inflict the fatal wound, but was convicted on the basis that the killing was a joint enterprise.
That means someone can be charged if they encouraged, assisted or could have foreseen the crime – even if another person carried out the act.
But Mr Starmer now says “mere association” with an offender is not enough to justify charges, and prosecutors must also assess public interest factors, including the suspect’s age.
Towers’ sister Ashleigh said: “I have sent the guidelines to Jordan’s solicitor.
“I am obviously anxious to know if they will help Jordan’s case in any way.”
The 32-year-old is adamant she won’t give up on her brother, and is calling for the law on joint enterprise to be reviewed.
“I think the standard of proof should be a lot higher for alleged secondary parties in spontaneous situations,” she told the Echo.
“At the moment you can be convicted on the basis of mere foresight alone, but the thing that has always puzzled me is you simply cannot foresee a spontaneous situation arising.
“It’s frustrating, because the guidelines have been drawn up after the Justice Select Committee said there was a need for guidance for prosecutors to help in their decision-making on whether to charge a person under the Joint Enterprise principles.
“If there is a need for guidance now, because of the concerns that prosecutors are using the doctrine to overcharge, then it should follow that those guidelines should have been in place six years ago when my then-16-year-old brother was convicted of a murder he did not commit.
“The guidelines suggest .that individuals, such as Jordan, will not face murder charges if their alleged role in the offence is minor.
“Looking at Jordan’s case we have the trial judge who categorically stated Jordan did not take any part in the murder.
“We also have the Criminal Case Review Commission stating that there was no direct evidence that Jordan knew the others were armed with knives, or that he knew they would use them to kill or cause serious harm.
“It is clear if these guidelines were in place when Jordan was under arrest, he would never have been charged with a murder he didn’t know was going to happen and took no part in.”
Tower’s most recent appeal against his conviction was kicked out by three judges at London’s High Court in May, last year.
He is serving the rest of his life sentence in Frankland prison, with just under seven-and-a-half years left before he can apply for parole.
But the father of the victim hopes Towers will not make a fresh bid for freedom.
John Johnson said: “New guidelines come out; that is from now. They murdered our Kevin six years ago, so it does not apply to them.”
The 66-year-old, from Ryhope, has campaigned for life sentences to mean life for killers, which included taking a petition of tens of thousands of signatures to 10 Downing Street.
He questioned whether if new guidelines for joint enterprise were to be looked at retrospectively, should his campaign also?
“If we get our way and get life to mean life would Towers stay in forever?”