Monday, December 17, 2007

Justice "Missing, Believed Dead"

Remember the pensioner who was stoned to death by a gang of "youths" ?

Their convictions have all been overturned and they've been released.

Ernest Norton, 67, was playing cricket with his son James, 17, at a leisure centre in Erith, Kent, on a Sunday afternoon in February last year, when they were targeted by a gang of up to 20 youths throwing stones and sticks. Two stones struck the father-of-two on the temple and fractured his cheekbone, and he collapsed to the ground suffering a fatal heart attack. The boys, aged between 10 and 13 at the time of the attack, were convicted of manslaughter and violent disorder at the Old Bailey in October.

But yesterday the convictions were overturned at the court of appeal by Lord Justice Gage, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Judge Scott-Gall.

On what grounds ?

Mark Wall QC, representing the boys, had challenged the safety of the convictions arguing that it could not be established which of the allegedly "unlawful or dangerous" actions, if any, had led to Norton's heart attack.

I see. He was hit in the face by stones, dropped dead with a heart attack, the boys ran off shouting "we got him", and the heart attack was totally unrelated. Does that mean we can stone Mark Wall QC to death, as long as there are enough of us, and we throw enough stones to make it impossible to pin the death to a given stone and a given thrower ?

I like that "allegedly", not to mention the "if any".

Of course Messrs Gage, Tugendhat and Scott-Gall could always have told him to boil his head.

Gage said the court was allowing the appeals and ordered the boys' release on bail, adding that the reasons for the decision would be published at a later date.

"Whatever the result of the appeals, this was a real tragedy for the family and, on behalf of us all, I express our sincere sympathy to Mrs Norton and her family," the appeal court judges said.

I'm sure it'll be a great comfort to them.

Meanwhile in London, it looks as if Suzanne Moore and Hackney Baroque will be getting the keyboards out again.

It is understood that David Nowak, from Stoke Newington, was killed during a mass street brawl at about 11pm on Saturday, after a group of youths tried to gatecrash the event in Stoke Newington. Scotland Yard said that he died from a single stab wound to his liver and kidney. Another youth, aged 15, was also taken to hospital, but is said to be in a stable condition.

The death takes the number of teenagers shot, stabbed or beaten to death in London this year to 26 and is the second murder in Stoke Newington in a month. On November 14, Etem Celebi, 17, was shot a few streets away on the Smalley Close estate.

Detectives said that they were looking into the possibility the latest incident was gang-related. The victim was known by his graffiti tag, Turk.