Friday, 16 July 2010

Armel Gnango - murder conviction quashed - joint enterprise

The concept of "Joint Enterprise" was discussed on Law and Lawyers in January 2010 - see here.  It is a very problematic concept and appeals continue.  There is an urgent need for better definition of this area of the criminal law.  This may require that Parliament eventually acts rather than leaving the matter to the almost constant flow of judicial decisions.

In 2008, Armel Gnango was convicted at the Old Bailey of the murder of Magda Priewska.  There was a "shoot out" between Gnango and another man ("Bandana Man").  Magda came innocently upon this event and was killed.  In an interview to the BBC on 22nd May 2008, Chief Inspector Tony Boughton said that is was accepted that Gnango had not fired the fatal shot.  It was accepted that Bandana Man fired the fatal shot. It appears clear that Bandana Man intended to kill Gnango and therefore Bandana Man would have been guilty of Magda's murder on the basic principle of "transferred malice".  Nevertheless, Gnango was convicted of murder on the basis of joint enterprise.  It now appears that Gnango's murder conviction has been quashed by a five judge Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).  The Court of Appeal heard the case in December 2009 and has just handed down its decision.  Hopefully, the judgment will be made available in the near future.  The judgment became available on 26th July - see here.

Another interesting aspect to this case is the extensive use of special measures to enable some 15 witnesses to give their evidence.  Chief Inspector Boughton referred to those in his interview with the BBC.  Without such measures it is nowadays very doubtful whether convictions would be secured in a considerable number of criminal cases.

Another joint enterprise decision was handed down this week by the Court of Appeal - see A and others [2010] EWCA Crim 1622.

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