Killer of Sunderland dad could appeal conviction under new joint enterprise ruling

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A new legal ruling could see a convicted Sunderland killer appeal his conviction.

The ruling by the Supreme Court claims the joint enterprise law has been misinterpreted for 30 years.

John Johnson with a photo of his son Kevin Johnson

John Johnson with a photo of his son Kevin Johnson

This move could lead the way for Jordan Towers - who was convicted under the joint enterprise law of killing dad-of-one Kevin Johnson in 2007 outside his Pennywell home - automatic leave to appeal.

Towers, who was just 16 at the time of the killing, was jailed for his part in the murder of Mr Johnson, who was stabbed to death.

The joint enterprise rule means someone can be charged if they encouraged, assisted or could have foreseen a crime, even if they didn’t carry it out.

Now, the Supreme Court ruling has stated that, in some cases, the guidelines have been wrongly interpreted by criminal trial judges over the past 30 years and it was not right that someone should be guilty merely because they foresaw that a co-accused might commit a crime.

But, John Johnson, the 69-year-old dad of Kevin Johnson, says the ruling has come as another bitter blow for him and his family.

Mr Johnson said: “I am really disappointed, it is a law that has been around for years and worked well. Why tinker with something if it isn’t broken?

“Every case is judged on its own merits, on the evidence which is given to the judge and jury.

“If there is enough evidence for a conviction and to show they all played a part in a murder then they should all be sentenced the same.

“It is not just about these people getting out of prison, they will all be putting in for compensation as well.

“Me and my wife are the ones who have been given a life sentence. It is never ending, it never goes away. Our lives were also destroyed in May 2007.”

However, for Jordan Towers’ family, who have been campaigning against his conviction, the ruling was welcome news.

His sister, Ashleigh Towers, posted on the Echo’s Facebook page: “I feel for the Johnson family too, but the fact is Jordan has served nine years now for a crime he did not commit.

“The Supreme Court ruling today proves he was wrongly convicted.

“The law has been changed today because it is broken.

“Maybe now they will stop convicting people of other people’s crimes.”

Even though he didn’t inflict the fatal wound, Towers was told he must serve a minimum of 13 years in jail for Kevin’s death.

His co-accused, Dean Curtis, who was 19 at the time, was told he must serve a minimum of 17 years, while Tony Hawkes, 17 at the time, was jailed for at least 16 years.

Kevin was killed outside his Partick Road home after he confronted the trio over their rowdy behaviour.