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

CCRC “Further investigation needed” in Ched Evans Rape Appeal Application

Ched Evans
Ched Evans

The panel assessing Ched Evans’ latest attempt to have his rape conviction overturned have said further investigation is needed before they can announce a decision.

A committee of three commissioners from the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) met on Tuesday to discuss the former Wales and Sheffield United footballer’s case.

They could have decided whether the conviction should be referred for appeal.

However, a CCRC spokeswoman said: “The Committee decided that further investigation was needed before it meets again to make a final decision on whether or not to refer Mr Evans’ conviction back to the Court of Appeal.”

No date has been fixed for the next meeting.

Once the committee has reached a provisional or final decision, it is typically several days or even weeks before the applicant and others are informed of the conclusion.

Evans applied for a review by the CCRC last year. The 26-year-old was released from prison last year after serving half of his five year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in Rhyl in April 2012.

The footballer has always maintained his innocence. An earlier appeal against his conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.

Evans has made attempts to restart his career but potential moves to Oldham Athletic and his former club Sheffield United collapsed in the face of public outcry.

Alan Charlton ‘body in carpet’ conviction sent to appeal

Alan Charlton
Alan Charlton

A man convicted of murdering a Cardiff teenager whose remains were found wrapped in carpet 25 years ago has had his case sent to the Court of Appeal.

Alan Charlton is serving a life sentence for killing 15-year-old Karen Price, who disappeared from a children’s home in 1981.

He was convicted in 1991 and an appeal failed three years later.

But it has now been referred because of concerns over techniques used by South Wales Police to investigate the case.

‘Body in the carpet’

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) said there had been concerns about the alleged “oppressive handling” of key witnesses by officers and alleged breaches of police regulations.

It became known as the “body in the carpet” case after the teenager’s remains were discovered wrapped in carpet in a shallow grave on 7 December 1989.

A plastic bag had been placed over her head and her arms had been tied behind her back.

The body was found by workmen in the garden of a property in Fitzhamon Embankment, Cardiff, eight years after Karen had disappeared.

After failed attempts to identify her body, Richard Neave, of Manchester University, created a clay facial reconstruction of the skull.

Karen was identified following the reconstruction and DNA samples taken from her parents and the skeletal remains.

Charlton, from Bridgwater, Somerset, was living at Fitzhamon Embankment at the time the teenager went missing.

He was convicted on 26 February 1991 at Cardiff Crown Court and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 15 years, but he remains in jail more than 20 years later.

In 1994, Charlton’s appeal was heard alongside that of co-defendant Idris Ali, from Birchgrove in Cardiff, who was Karen’s pimp.

The court dismissed Charlton’s appeal but quashed Ali’s conviction and ordered a retrial, where he admitted manslaughter and was released from prison.

Notorious cases

But following a lengthy investigation, the CCRC has now referred Charlton’s conviction to the Court of Appeal as it considers there is “a real possibility that the court will quash the conviction”.

CCRC has said a number of officers involved in the case also investigated two notorious cases that resulted in miscarriages of justice – the murders of Lynette White and Philip Saunders.

The CCRC has also told the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary about its concerns.

IPCC commissioner Jan Williams said it raised important questions about the conduct of South Wales Police during the 1980s and 1990s.

“In the light of questions around other similar cases, this clearly raises serious issues for public confidence in the integrity of the force at that time,” she said.

“We therefore expect South Wales Police to review all the evidence from the CCRC, make a decision, and record and refer any conduct issues that may come to light and which may then require IPCC action.”

Following news of the appeal, South Wales Police Chief Constable Peter Vaughan said: “We note that the Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Alan Charlton for the murder of Karen Price to the Court of Appeal.

“In light of this referral we must now allow the judicial process to take its course and therefore cannot comment further at this stage.”