My nephew was convicted under the Joint Enterprise, there was no evidence to suggest that he was the knife man, unlike his co-defendents, he made no phone calls, which was accepted, than they claimed it could be a nod or a wink, all the proscution witnesses were friends of the victim, there was in fact no evidence to say anything the fact that he was there that night and his friends had an altercation with the victims friends, which subsequtenly led two of them needing medical treatment, where they all sat for over 5 hours. Joint enterprise is a law used when the police cannot prove who the perpetrator of the offence was. So for example you are walking down the street with a friends or relative. Your friends/relative gets into a fight, you’re at the scene watching what is happening obviously thinking that it has nothing to do with you, and it’s not your fight. The fight ends everyone walks away. The next day you are arrested on the suspicion of murder, you find out it wasn’t just a fight you witnessed, the person who your friend/relative fought with was fatally stabbed. You tell the police ‘I was there but it wasn’t me’. You feel confident because you played no part, you didn’t know the person was going to be or had been stabbed.
You are then charged jointly with murder! You know you are innocent but it will go to trial. The prosecution will allege that you were part of a common purpose or plan, you were there for encouragement, and you are equally guilty. The prosecution will ask if you knew whether your ‘accomplice’ had a knife, you will of course deny this, you thought it was just a fight. The prosecution will then allege that you should have known what was in your ‘accomplice’ pockets because you are best friends or relatives etc. The prosecution will allege you shared the same intent as the murderer; he will go on to trash your defence with his wild speculations during his closing speech. His whole speech will be intent on damaging your character because he has no solid evidence against you, he barely mentions your co-accused, he doesn’t have to, and the evidence presented in court has secured his first conviction. He will save his closing speech all for you, attacking your character and making sure the jury learn that you are no scared little chicken sitting in the back of class to afraid to speak with your school teacher.
But the jury won’t take too much persuading, after all the standard of proof is set frightfully low in joint enterprise law. Your life has been place in the hands of 12 people who don’t know one end of the law from the other. It takes a person 10 years to qualify as a barrister and yet a jury of 12 people with no law experience are expected to understand such complex laws like joint enterprise in 3-4 weeks. The jury will go on to convict you because of one or two things. 1. ‘There’s no smoke without fire’ the prosecution has done his job by attacking your character with totally unwarranted speculations, or 2. They just don’t understand the complex law of joint enterprise or worse, they can’t be bothered to work it out – after all they have sat through a rather lengthy trial. Conviction number 2, good day for the prosecution.
Ok so now you think, ‘I’ll appeal, I know I am innocent’. You will then be told that you can’t appeal on the basis of your innocence. Why? Because jury’s don’t get it wrong. The fight you will have on your hands to over turn your conviction will be way bigger than you can ever imagine. Why? Because the ‘Justice System’ doesn’t like to admit they have made a mistake. You will still fight though there is nothing left for you to do apart from a sentence for a crime you haven’t committed. Things will get a whole lot worse before they get even a smidgen better. The newspapers will print that you are a murderer that you joined in with the fight. They will crush any chance of people believing you, you will feel trapped. Because you keep maintaining your innocence you will stand little chance of parole. Why? Because maintaining your innocence is not showing remorse therefore you are not rehabilitated because you are not sorry for a crime you did not commit.
Someone said to me not long ago that juries should be told how difficult it is to have a murder conviction over turned. Some Juries will more than likely go on to convict under the illusion that if they got it wrong a higher court will correct their mistakes. This is wrong, courts do not like to over turn convictions and admit their perfect system is wrong.
Other people are serving life sentences because of simply using their mobile at the wrong time. Another is serving a life sentence for being a Good Samaritan; unfortunately all he did was offer the wrong person a lift. Another person is serving life because he was asked to burn out a car for the insurance money, little did he know that the car had been used in a murder, and there you have it – another miscarriage of justice.
This is joint enterprise; I know you will probably not believe what you are reading but these things happen, this is real life. If you think Joint Enterprise will never affect you think again! Remember all you have to do is be in the wrong place at the wrong time or even innocently use your own mobile phone. This law is unjust and is crying out for an amendment that will set the standard of proof extremely higher than what it is now. But don’t worry I know you will be thinking this simply couldn’t happen to you….. Could it?