“He should stop behind bars until he has done his time.”
The father of a murdered Sunderland man has welcomed news that one of his killers has failed in a bid to bring forward his potential release date.
John Johnson’s 22-year-old son Kevin was stabbed to death outside his home in Partick Road, Pennywell, in 2007 after confronting a group of youths about their rowdy behaviour.
Jordan Towers, who was 16 at the time, was one of three men convicted of his murder. Although the prosecution accepted Towers did not inflict the fatal blow, he was convicted on the basis that the killing was a joint enterprise between him and two others.
The joint enterprise law means someone can be charged with an offence if they encouraged, assisted or could have foreseen the crime – even if another person carried out the act.
Towers’ family have always maintained his innocence and have called for a change in the law.
He has had about four appeals now – where does it end? It is all money, at the end of the day, that the taxpayer has to pay.John Johnson
An attempt to have the conviction overturned failed in 2012 and an attempt to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was rejected in 2014.
Now he has failed in a bid to secure an early release date after a judge ruled he was still a risk to the public.
John Johnson said he had not been informed that Towers’s case was going to the High Court until the day of the hearing.
“I did not know,” he said.
“Somebody rang me this morning from victim liaison.”
The legal system gave priority to perpetrators, rather than their victims, he said: “They have got the law on their side more than I have got it on my side.
“He has had about four appeals now – where does it end? It is all money, at the end of the day, that the taxpayer has to pay.”
Kevin Johnson was stabbed to death by Towers, Tony Hawkes, then 17, and Dean Curtis, then 18, after the new dad challenged them because they were keeping his baby awake.
They were each sentenced to life.
Towers, then of Fell Road, was ultimately ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years before being eligible for release, meaning he could not apply for parole until May 2020.
Applying for a cut in the minimum term to allow an earlier bid for release, he took his case to a High Court judge. But after considering Towers’ conduct in prison, Mr Justice Collins said he could not recommend that the term be cut.
An expert had assessed Towers and said he was still at least a ‘medium’ risk of further crime, said the judge.
“He was someone who was easily led and joined in with the wrong crowd. That danger still exists,” he continued.
“In the circumstances, I cannot recommend a reduction in tariff since none of the possible reasons for doing so are met.”
At his trial in 2007, the Newcastle Crown Court jury heard that Towers had not wielded the knife.
He was convicted on the basis of ‘disgraceful conduct’ on that night, including throwing a lump of concrete or brick at Mr Johnson after he had been stabbed.
His minimum term having been upheld, Towers will have to wait another four-and-a-half years before applying for release.
He will only then be freed if the Parole Board considers he is safe to return to the community.