Family of murdered Sunderland dad Kevin Johnson speak out after convicted killer loses appeal
The dad of a Wearside man murdered as he tried to stop youths from waking his sleeping baby son has welcomed news one of the men convicted of his murder has lost an appeal.
John Johnson has campaigned for harsher sentences for killers and for better support for victims and their families after his lad Kevin was stabbed to death outside his house in Patrick Road, Pennywell, in October 2007.
Today, one of the three jailed for his death has failed in his bid to persuade judges his case is a miscarriage of justice.
Barristers for Jordan Towers, who is now 27-years-old, had argued at the Court of Appeal he was wrongly convicted on the basis that he was not part of a murderous "joint enterprise."
John, 67, and wife Kath, 68, are devoted grandparents to Kevin's son Chase, 12.
John expressed frustration at that Towers had launched a series of appeals and had already been "given enough chances."
He added: "I'm pleased at the outcome of the appeal.
"But when they first got sent to prison, we were told they would only have two chances to appeal, the first before one judge, the second before three judges.
"We get nothing and I feel as if every time it happens, he should get another year or two on his sentence.
"To me, all it does is make money for solicitors and lawyers.
"All this time, there are hundreds and thousands of families like mine and I know that because of what happened to us.
"It costs £40,000 a year to keep someone inside, is this just to keep down costs?
"I have to keep a wife and family and get nowhere near that.
"There's supposed to be a review if there's new evidence, but where is the new evidence?"
Towers' appeal was launched on the grounds that although the then 16-year-old, who was living in Fell Road, did not use a knife, he was convicted of the murder on the basis of joint enterprise.
His friends, Tony Hawkes and Dean Curtis, were also locked up for their parts in the killing and handed life terms.
But, throwing out Towers' challenge today, Sir Brian Leveson said he had confessed to police after the killing that he had been carrying a knife at the time.
Although he was not the one who knifed Kevin, he had thrown a brick, or paving slab, at the victim.
Towers his pals had been out "clearly looking for trouble" and had goaded the victim into leaving his home and confronting them on the street.
He knew full well that he and and at least one of the other youths were armed and "foresaw the possibility of the infliction of really serious harm."
It was accepted the attack was unplanned and that Towers "stepped away" before the killing.
The judge added: "His behaviour thereafter was not, in any sense, to distance himself from the joint attack.
He lifted a paving slab up high in the air, to head height if not higher, and threw it at Mr Johnson."
While the slab did not connect with the victim, it supported the jury's verdict that Towers intended to cause him grievous bodily harm.
Minutes after the fatal attack, another man Jamie Thompson was stabbed in the chest in Greenwood Road, Grindon, after confronting the trio.
Towers, Hawkes and Curtis were also convicted of wounding Mr Thompson with intent.
Sir Brian said Towers' involvement in the attack on Mr Thompson was further evidence that the trio were acting as part of a joint enterprise.
John added: "Towers was stood 20ft away when Kevin was stabbed, but he still picked up that paving slab and threw it at Kevin, it might have missed, but he still did it.
"He was there and there were three of them and that night the other two had stabbed another man, been thrown out of a party, they had damaged cars, been to the garage on the Broadway and wouldn't be served because they'd been throwing bricks at the windows, but this is drink and drugs.
"They had been causing mayhem."