Jordan Cunliffe fails in judicial CCRC and tariff reviews

One of the killers of Garry Newlove – who was kicked to death outside his home after confronting vandals – has lost a High Court action in his fight to have his conviction overturned.

Leading judges rejected a challenge by Jordan Cunliffe against a decision by the independent body, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, not to refer his case to the Court of Appeal for review.

Sir Brian Leveson and Mr Justice William Davis, sitting in London yesterday, dismissed a claim for judicial review by 27-year-old Cunliffe against a decision last year by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Cunliffe is serving life for his part in the alcohol-fuelled killing of 47-year-old father-of-three Mr Newlove in 2007.

He was one of three teenagers found guilty of murder by a jury at Chester Crown Court in January 2008. He was 16 at the time of conviction.

Mr Newlove, who had overcome stomach cancer, suffered massive head injuries in the attack at his home in Warrington, Cheshire, and died two days later.

The ruling was the second blow in a week for Cunliffe, who failed to persuade another High Court judge to reduce his 12-year minimum term – the least he must serve before becoming eligible to apply for release on parole – which expires in August.

Sir Brian, ruling in the CCRC case, said it was submitted on Cunliffe’s behalf that “there was nothing in the evidence” to show that he was a participant in the attack on Mr Newlove at the time of the fatal blow.

He went on: “This submission is untenable.”

Sir Brian said: “The evidence as a whole showed that he was participating throughout the incident involving Mr Newlove.”

He added that the trial judge’s direction to the jury “made it perfectly clear that a defendant could not be convicted unless he were proved to be party to the joint enterprise when the fatal blow was struck”.

Earlier, Mr Justice Spencer, ruling on Cunliffe’s application for a tariff reduction, said he had “undoubtedly made very good progress across a wide range of areas”, but it could not be said that “overall his progress has been both exceptional and unforeseen”.

He added: “The absence of true remorse and the complete lack of an acceptance of any responsibility for the part he played in the murder is an important negative factor, although not conclusive in itself.”

It was “greatly to his credit” that Cunliffe had developed into a “mature and responsible young man”.

Mr Justice Spencer said: “The confidence which the Parole Board has shown in the applicant by transferring him to a category D prison, in open conditions, and by approving significant periods of release on temporary licence, is also greatly to his credit.

“The process of parole will have to take its course once the applicant has served the minimum term set by the trial judge, which expires in just a few months’ time in August 2019.

“The fact that the date is so imminent would not have deterred me from recommending a reduction in his minimum term had that course been justified, but it is not.”

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook and Converse newspaper, said Jordan Cunliffe’s case had been ‘littered with serious flaws’ every time it came before the courts.

Mr Leech said:  “From the wrongful directions on joint enterprise given to the jury in Jordan’s case, made clear in the later case of Jogee which even the CCRC accepted could have made a difference at his trial, to secret victim impact statements handed to the High Court under the table by the now ‘Baroness’ Newlove, the deceased’s wife, and later roundly criticised by the Court of Appeal – Jordan’s case has been littered with serious flaws every time it has come before the courts.

“it’s hard to understand what more this young man has to do to ensure justice is done in his case.”

Read the court’s judgement here

Joint enterprise killer has tariff appeal refused


One of the first joint enterprise killers of Garry Newlove – who was kicked to death outside his home in Warrington after confronting vandals – has had a bid for a reduction in his 12-year minimum term rejected by a judge at the High Court.

Jordan Cunliffe, now in his early twenties, is serving life for his part in the alcohol-fuelled murder of the father-of-three.

In a ruling given in London Mr Justice Mitting said he did not recommend a reduction in the tariff, which is the minimum term to be served before Cunliffe is eligible to apply for release on parole.

Cunliffe was one of three teenagers found guilty of murder by a jury at Chester Crown Court in January 2008. He was aged 16 at the time of conviction.

Mr Newlove, a 47-year-old salesman, who had overcome stomach cancer, died following the incident outside his home in 2007.

He suffered massive head injuries in the attack, which was witnessed by his daughters, and died two days later in hospital.

Mr Justice Mitting said that as was Cunliffe’s right he had applied for a review of his minimum term.

The ground at the centre of the application for a tariff reduction was that there had been exceptional and unforeseen progress while in custody.

Giving the background to the case, the judge described Mr Newlove as a “brave and upright man”.

He had re-read a five-page typed statement, dated September 30 2014, submitted by Mr Newlove’s widow Baroness Newlove “which describes the impact which her husband’s murder has had upon her family, with particular emphasis on the impact on her three daughters”.

The judge continued: “She has asked that this statement is not made public or disclosed to the applicant, for particular reasons, which have been notified to me by the Ministry of Justice.

“I accede to that request. What it does is to demonstrate, graphically, how deep and lasting the affect of the dreadful crime committed by the applicant and his associates has been; and, inevitably, how unwelcome to his widow and daughters has been the need to prepare themselves for the outcome of my decision on this application.”

Mr Justice Mitting said that throughout Cunliffe has maintained that he was not guilty of the offence, denying being at the scene of the attack.

He was sentenced on the basis that he had not started the violence, but had, on the evidence of an eye witness, “kicked him, unshod, during the attack”.

The judge added: “Nothing in any subsequently produced material casts doubt on that conclusion.”

He said: “He was convicted and sentenced on the basis that he did participate in the fatal attack, even though he personally did not deliver the lethal kick.”

Mr Justice Mitting said: “Given his attitude to the offence, it is unsurprising that the applicant has never expressed remorse for his part in it.

“This does not, of course, mean that he must be detained until he does, but it is a factor of high significance when assessing whether or not the progress which he has made in custody has been exceptional and unforeseen.”

In conclusion the judge, who said that exceptional and unforeseen progress was a “high threshold”, announced: “The reports demonstrate that the applicant has made good progress in custody, which could not have been foreseen with certainty at the time when he was sentenced, but it would be a misuse of language to describe that progress as exceptional, either by reference to the standard of conduct to be expected of prisoners generally or to what might have been expected of him when sentenced.”

He said: “Accordingly, I do not recommend that the minimum term … be reduced.”