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 http://prisons.org.uk/cunliffevCCRC.pdf