Failed Bomber Loses Appeal

Manfo Asiedu
Manfo Asiedu

One of the men jailed over a failed suicide plot to attack London’s transport network has lost a bid to appeal against his conviction.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London rejected an application by Manfo Asiedu for the go-ahead to challenge his conviction for “conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life or to cause serious injury to property”.

Asiedu, who was jailed for 33 years in November 2007, claimed his conviction was “unsafe”.

Charges against Asiedu and others arose out of the taking of home-made bombs onto the London transport system on July 21 2005.

Ghanaian-born Asiedu, then aged 34, who was described as a ”trusted and major participant” in the failed plot, was tasked with exploding his rucksack device on the Tube at White City station but ”lost his nerve at the last moment” and dumped it in woodland.

Two weeks earlier, on July 7, a similar plot killed 52 innocent people on London’s transport network.

Asiedu’s application was turned down today by Lord Hughes, Mr Justice Wilkie and Mr Justice Irwin.

Restrictions previously in place preventing reporting of the case were lifted with immediate effect.

Asiedu pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to cause explosions offence at a retrial in 2007.

As well as the jail term, the sentencing judge recommended deportation on his release.

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said Asiedu had lied on an ”epic scale” about his involvement in the planning of the attacks in which four bombs were detonated on three tube trains and a bus, but the main charge failed to ignite.

Four men were jailed for life at Woolwich Crown Court in London in July 2007 after being convicted of conspiracy to murder, and were ordered to serve a minimum of 40 years in prison.

Giving the Court of Appeal’s decision, Lord Hughes said Asiedu’s contention was that his conviction was unsafe “grounded upon complaints of lack of proper disclosure by the Crown of material relating to scientific evidence”, and associated criticism of one of the scientists called by the prosecution.

The judge said that a defendant “will not normally be permitted in this court to say that he has changed his mind and now wishes to deny what he has previously thus admitted in the Crown Court”, but added that it “does not follow that a plea of guilty is always a bar to the quashing by this court of a conviction”.

But the appeal judges declared that submissions made on behalf of Asiedu in his application were “unarguable”.

Lord Hughes announced that Asiedu’s “plea of guilty unequivocally establishes his guilt”, and there was “nothing arguably unsafe about his conviction”.

Clifford loses sentence challenge

Jimmy_max_and_gary

Disgraced PR guru Max Clifford has lost a challenge against his eight-year jail sentence for sex offences.

The sentence was upheld by three Court of Appeal judges in London today.

Clifford, 71, was jailed in May after being convicted of a string of indecent assaults, carried out between 1977 and 1984, using his celebrity connections to lure women.

The former celebrity agent, who branded his accusers “fantasists”, denied the charges, but was convicted at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

Announcing the appeal court’s decision, Lord Justice Treacy, who heard the case with Mr Justice Turner and Judge Michael Pert, said the sentence was “justified”.

At a recent appeal hearing, Clifford’s barrister Richard Horwell QC told the three judges that Clifford’s last offence was committed 29 years ago, “since when he has led an industrious life, and devoted a considerable part of his time to charitable works for which he has raised substantial funds”.

The trial judge had “accepted that he is no longer a danger to women and that he will not commit further offences”.

Mr Horwell said that for a number of reasons the sentence imposed was “too long”, adding: “Although the sentencing process must reflect modern attitudes, and I fully accept that that is our law, the sentencing process must not abandon common sense and fairness.”

Rosina Cottage QC, for the Crown, said the total sentence imposed was one the trial judge was “entitled to reach”.

When sentencing Clifford, Judge Anthony Leonard told him his personality and position in the public eye were the reasons his crimes were not revealed earlier.

He said: “The reason why they were not brought to light sooner was because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment which meant that your victims thought that you were untouchable, something that I think you too believed.”

He added: “These offences may have taken place a long time ago, when inappropriate and trivial sexual behaviour was more likely to be tolerated, but your offending was not trivial, but of a very serious nature.”

Clifford is currently serving his sentence at Littlehey Category C men’s prison in Cambridgeshire.

Announcing the court’s decision today, Lord Justice Treacy said: “It seems to us that, after consideration of the individual offences and the application of modern sentencing attitudes reflected in the guidelines, but tempered by the need to have regard to the statutory maximum available at the time, an overall sentence of eight years was justified and correct.”

It was a “just and proportionate” sentence “taking account of considerations of harm and culpability together with aggravating factors and such mitigation as was available to the appellant”.

Lord Justice Treacy said Clifford was sentenced to a total of eight years on eight counts of indecent assault relating to four victims who were “young and vulnerable” at the time of the offences.

He said: “Each was affected in respect of confidence and relationships and was harmed by what had been done to her.”

In considering the seriousness of any offence the court “must consider the offender’s culpability and any harm which the offence caused”.

The judge said: “Sexual offending will by its very nature cause harm at the time the offence is committed, but it is well recognised that for many victims significant harm persists for a considerable period afterwards.

“This is a case where it is clear that the effect of what was done to the victims was not something from which they recovered quickly.

“The appellant’s actions towards these victims had long term consequences for their lives. This is clearly a highly material circumstance for this court to consider.”