Hundreds of people are convicted of murder or manslaughter every year in England and Wales even though they were not directly responsible for the crime, it is revealed today .So what? You might say the same about a getaway driver who doesn’t actually go and poke his shotgun in the bank manager’s face, mightn’t you?
Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows that in the past eight years nearly one in five of all homicide cases have been prosecuted under a 300-year-old legal doctrine that allows someone to be convicted just for being present at the scene of the crime or being associated with the killer.That’s because we have a big rise in gang crime and mob assaults. As the article itself has to admit:
The use of so-called “joint enterprise” prosecutions – initially designed to deter people from supporting duellists – has become an increasingly important tool in tackling gang murders, as it allows a group to be convicted of an offence regardless of which member committed it.And…isn’t this what we want? To quash the threat of gang crime?
I don’t hear anyone howling at the injustice of trying a whole group of people for the murder of St Stephen Lawrence, after all.
Senior legal figures have suggested that joint enterprise be reviewed. Lord Phillips, the former Lord Chief Justice, told the Bureau that reform was necessary because joint enterprise was “capable of producing injustice, undoubtedly”.
“It’s very complicated for juries and it falls to the judge to do his best to explain things to the jury. Some of the scenes of group violence are so horrifying they can leave a jury willing to convict anyone who was there.”Ah. I see where you’re coming from. We can't have people wanting to convict, now can we?