Jordan Towers loses appeal over murder of young Sunderland dad Kevin Johnson
A Sunderland man who was convicted as a teenager of a brutal murder has failed to convince top judges he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Jordan Towers, now 27, was found guilty of murder and jailed for life at the age of just 16 at Newcastle Crown Court in October 2007.
He had been involved in an incident in which 22-year-old dad, Kevin Johnson, was killed in a savage attack in Partick Road, Pennywell, in May 2007.
Mr Johnson was assaulted and stabbed after confronting Towers and two of his friends about their rowdy behaviour in the street.
At the Court of Appeal, Towers' lawyers argued he was wrongly convicted on the basis that he was part of a murderous "joint enterprise."
Barrister, Henry Blaxland QC, said Towers had never intended to cause Mr Johnson serious harm and was up to 20 feet away when the fatal blow was struck.
"Towers' own actions amounted to an unarmed scuffle and drunkenly throwing a brick, which missed," said the barrister.
"At the time of the fatal attack, he was standing some feet away, just watching."
Towers' case was referred to the Appeal Court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the body that investigates suspected miscarriages of justice.
But, throwing out his challenge today, Sir Brian Leveson said Towers had confessed to police after the killing that he had been carrying a knife.
Although he was not the one who knifed Mr Johnson, he had thrown a brick, or paving slab, at the victim, the judge added.
Towers and his friends were 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."
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Sir Brian, who was sitting with Mr Justice Nicol and Sir Brian Keith, accepted that the attack was unplanned and that Towers "stepped away" before the killing.
But he 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."
And, although the slab did not connect with the victim, it supported the jury's verdict that Towers intended to cause him grievous bodily harm.
Towers explained that he carried a knife to intimidate others and so that "no trouble comes my way" - but the judge said the youths were "actively seeking trouble."
Pointing to his youth, Mr Blaxland argued he was "susceptible to peer pressure and had an adolescent concern to avoid exclusion."
But Sir Brian said: "There was absolutely no evidence from Towers to that effect."
The judge concluded: "Towers involved himself in a joint enterprise knowing that he and his co-adventurers were armed.
"He took part in, or associated himself with, the attack, however ineffectually, by lifting and throwing a paving slab at Mr Johnson."
Five minutes after the fatal stabbing, another man, Jamie Thompson, was stabbed in the chest after confronting the trio in Greenwood Road.
Towers and his friends, Anthony Hawkes and Dean Curtis, were convicted of wounding Mr Thompson with intent, as well as murdering Mr Johnson.
And 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.
Even though his appeal failed, Towers will be entitled to apply for parole later this year, having served more than a decade behind bars.