Joint Enterprise Murder Robbery Fiction

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pedro888 | 10:51 Thu 01st Oct 2009 | Law
10 Answers
Hi anyone, I am writing a book on short joint enterprise murder / manslaughter stories, can anyone give me a view on the following case:- Defendants A & B 18 years old spend the night out in town on drink and drugs, A gets his wallet stolen in a nightclub and B has no money, they both walk the streets until the early hours of the morning, whilst walking along a milkman on his early rounds walks towards them, A suddenly picks up a rock from a garden wall and runs towards the milkman throwing it at him, the rock hits him on the head and the milkman falls to the ground hitting his head, A then jumps on top of him punching and kicking, B stays well back when A turns to him and says take his money, B takes the money and hands it to A whilst leaving the scene, the Milkman is found by a passer by and rushed to hospital in a coma, he then dies 25 days later as a result of the fall injury.

A and B are arrested for Murder and Robbery, under initial interview A owns up to the whole attack saying it had nothing to do with B, A then explains his anger at the time after his wallet got stolen, he then issues a new statement saying they both planned to only rob someone.

B in interview says it was not him and confirms he stole the victims money under the instruction of A.
Subsequent CCTV results capture the whole event and confirms everything in the statements plus them running from the scene.

Both are charged with Murder Robbery Joint Enterprise, would that be correct for both? A clears B in his statement re the attack, but B joins in to Rob after the fatal blow, B did not remove himself and joins the venture of A by robbery but denies any plan.

What would you expect the plea\\\'s to be and the final result at full jury if the case continues as both charged with Murder Robbery, is the evidence against B strong enough to proceed in respect of murder, manslaughter or robbery theft?


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Prosecuting, I'd want pleas of guilty from both A and B to murder and robbery.I'd not accept a plea from either to manslaughter. The case deserves a jury trial. What the jury make of the evidence of the CCTV and the rest,is a matter for them. What A says in the second interview about the two planning to rob is not evidence against B.

It is not necessary to prove...
09:07 Fri 02nd Oct 2009
Prosecuting, I'd want pleas of guilty from both A and B to murder and robbery.I'd not accept a plea from either to manslaughter. The case deserves a jury trial. What the jury make of the evidence of the CCTV and the rest,is a matter for them. What A says in the second interview about the two planning to rob is not evidence against B.

It is not necessary to prove an intent to kill in murder. It is sufficient to prove an intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Joint enterprise: Another matter for the jury. They'll be concerned to establish what B knew and when, what crime he intended to happen or continue, and whether he assisted in any way in its commission (including by encouraging it or its continuance). It's a question of fact whether B encouraged any crime, by word or deed or continuing presence. Mere voluntary presence is not enough.He has to wilfully encourage and intend to encourage whatever crime is being considered. His faliure to leave or failure to try to prevent the crime or to help the victim when he could might be taken as some evidence of that. Here B took part in some crime.It'll be for the jury to decide which.It wouldn't be a defence for B to say simply that A went further than B expected or wanted, if anything A did was within the crime B did intend to assist in, even if A did, in B's view, go too far in executing it.

Defending A , I'd be playing for an acquittal on murder but conviction on manslaughter. I'd expect a plea of guilty to robbery.I'd run the defence on the basis that A didn't intend gbh.

Defending B I'd hope for guilty of theft only (ever the optimist ! ) Seriously, I'd be looking to a conviction for robbery and manslaughter as a reasonable result. On that, I'd then play up just how terrible A was and how B had no idea that he would go that far and how shocked B was and how sorry B is (, everyone is sorry when they're convicted, but I'd hope to convince the judge of remorse)
Perhaps I should explain my joke 'ever the optimist' in hoping for theft only as a conviction for B.LOL Only a law student could think that possible. In law, it would mean that B knew nothing of the violence or any attempt at robbery by A or anyone else and had chanced, in all innocence, upon the victim's money lying in the street and , not knowing how it got there, had decided , dishonestly, to take it. Well now, that is so far from the evidence as to be academic.It could not be argued. Some students might wrongly think too that A had done all the violence and, in some way, B could only be guilty of theft, though A was a robber, since B had not wished the violence (if so found by the jury).

No, the robbery has not been completed until the money is taken, appropriated, since, up to then there has been no theft. Someone is guilty of robbery if 'he steals and immediately before or at the time of doing so , and in order to do so, he uses force on any person [or seeks to put the person in fear etc]'. No theft, no robbery. B has joined in before the robbery is complete and has helped A 'finish the job'. He may be a reluctant participant but he's a participant and he knows what is going on.

And, of course, being drunk would be no defence. A drunken intent is still an intent. That the man would not have so acted had he been sober is no defence. Nor is it material that A asked B to get the money. B would only escape if he was under such duress from A , in reality in such real fear for his life that his will was completely overborn and even running away was not an option. .
Question Author
Thanks Fred excellent, having studied some serious recent cases of joint enterprise normally being gang murder I cannot find any case where they can identify who struck the fatal blows of anyone defendant involved getting anymore than manslaughter even if they put the boot in or even in a recent headline case where a defendant told the only convicted murder to "poke him" a third defendant was cleared of all charges , it seems when a case of murder gets to Crown Court the jury are encouraged or steered to the issue of fatal blows , joint enterprise seems to more of a weapon to make an easy charge, unless you clearly plan to murder someone eg hiring a hit man or are all blaming each other then joint enterprise will not make everyone at the scene a murderer, in the case of B with this example assuming the cctv proved his statement and he is not seen acting like a look out then the pros have no evidence only Robbey or even theft, it seems that any good defence barrister can knock out joint enterprise unless you struck the fatal blows, best write my book before degrees of murder are introduced placing each defendant at a certain degree, let me have anymore on the pros or def front, thanks
NO pedro, it's not a question of who struck the fatal blow that settles it. (I can see why you may think that) The reason why manslaughter verdicts are returned is that the jury decide that the intent to commit gbh is not there. Only this week we had a case where two drunk youths set upon and killed a man who was walking back from the shops. They were both convicted of murder.The jury didn't have to work out which blow or which injury killed the man. It was patent from the facts that one had a metal bar and both kicked him very hard, leaving him comatose, that they were both intent upon inflicting very serious injury.It didn't matter if one struck the fatal blow, it was clear that both intended gbh. For all we know one intended to kill, but that wouldn't get the second off if he intended there to be gbh.

Where , defending , you 'get a result' (what the pros call a good result for the defence), it'll be on the gbh intent. Youths may punch someone who falls back and is perhaps killed by striking their head on , say, a kerbstone.If you can sell the jury the idea that the death was a bit freakish and that the punches didn't kill the man, you'll get a manslaughter. You can tell the jury that, unfortunately, attacks like this happen all the time, and at worst, the perpetrators only want to knock the man out .It's very rare for a victim to die, after all, so intent to kill is unlikely and the jury 'may think' that the intent to do gbh , really serious bodily injury, isn't fully proved either, given the circumstances. Reasonable doubt wins the day.Same if only one goes on to use really dangerous violence and the other has cused only minor blows and backs off or dissociates himself early on because what's happening is far beyond his intent.

You can often steer your client out of murder in such a case simply because one man alone used the really serious violence, which patently did kill the victim, whereas your man only punched him. You tell them
[them] that you man Y was horrified, shocked, by what the other X did, and play up that. Your man may be a cowardly man but no murderer but just a stupid lad who thumped someone, and maiming (nice word! ) or gbh was never in his mind etc.Get the jury gunning for X and they may feel they've done a good day's work and are satisfied with convicting him of murder. Reasonable doubt wins the day !

Prosecutors don't use joint enterprise for the sake of it. You can't tell, from the papers, how the evidence will play out in court.If there's enough there that a jury could see joint enterprise they should be allowed to decide the extent of it. You'd be surprised how often the evidence , seen live, shows the case to be far worse than the papers read (and vice versa).We always joke, too, that the highl point of the defence case is when the prosecution closes their case (i.e., before the defence calls any evidence). Defendants have an unhappy knack of testifying and removing all doubt of their guilt once the jury sees them giving evidence and being cross-examined ! If possible, don't call the client is a good rule!
Question Author
Fred thanks again very useful and I would certainly recommend you in defence, I often read about the main players in these cases is that a summary term following conviction or press talk?

If A pleads guilty to murder at the start of the trial for a potential reduced sentence how does that leave B or even a completely off the wall mad decision from B at the start to plead guilty to murder robbery ignoring his def of course how would that leave A in front of the jury knowing B pleaded g with no violence used.

Sorry two more Q, can each others def call the other defendant into the box or is that a no go area and who's def starts first A or B?
If A pleads [guilty] to murder at the outset, hooray! Defending B you've a) avoided A giving evidence in the trial, thereby, in all probability getting you both convicted of murder [see comment about defendants' testimony] b) kept out nasty evidence you don't want about A's answers [including his prejudicial second statement] , his activities being examined in colourful depth and the jury thinking you're both as bad as each other, good mates etc c) been given a sacrificial target. You can tell the jury they've got one murderer and look how bad he must be, unlike your poor little lad who got caught up in trouble, willy-nilly. Isn't that enough?

Defending A,you'd do your best to have B's counsel see sense and persuade his man not to plead to murder! Worst of all B might testify against A, if he's that keen on being a good boy and getting a minimal term set,. Very nasty.You'd expect A to shift all the blame onto B ( it would be human nature) and you'd be stuck running that line.

Neither A nor B can be made to testify. You'd be unwise to call a willing A, who's pleaded guilty, in B's defence. Nobody will believe him and he's almost certain to make your case worse.If both contest then they testify, if they choose, in the order they appear in the indictment

Defendants are called in the order they appear listed in the indictment. Prosecutors may carefully list the names for maximimum embarrassment.Last thing you want is not to call your client only to find the next defendant testifies and puts you in it (accidentally or not). That thought may force you to call your client when you'd rather not. Counsel try to agree a strategy so that two or more clients aren't called and that's avoided, if they can.
'Main player' and similar terms are used by everyone in mitigation , and the press, to paint one of a joint enterprise as the originator of the plan or the action, with their man only joining in. Their man would never insti
[insti] instigate anything, of course, merely follow!
Question Author
Fred, some serious cases I read the non main players play some very significant roles clearly planning to rob as a joint venture or even putting the boot in but end up with just manslaughter, is that because of individual mentallty understanding of what they are entering into and the jury agreeing the other defendant acted beyond that, I recall a case of a milkman driving to work where a girl and boy planned to rob steal a car, she crossed a crossing to stop the car when the boyfriend jumped in and stabbed the milkman to death, they both fled the scene in his car, on the basis of what you said and reading the story again it seems that her defence must have made him out to be a complete nutter, Barnsley Milkman murder google, would you agree? when I first read the case until your previous point I could not understand how she got away without a murder conviction (joint enterprise), its still difficult to understand, she must of known he was pre armed and dressing in a ninja outfit mad, she entered the venture and finished it driving off in the car on the run, however in her defence it must not have been difficult to make him look evil, the more violent the main player is then the easier it is to defend anyone else not using violence, must be a big throw for the jury when the evidence points to one using mad violence and another involved producing none therefore manslaughter her def must have been happy and I bet its top of the barrister's CV, sorry to keep going on, I am now worried about our Milkman Mick with these stories, he is always happy whistling at 6am! perhaps its nerves, lol,
Here's the law as set out in R v Anderson and Morris [Court of Appeal, 1966 ' and followed in other cases ]'When two persons embark on a joint enterprise, each is liable for the acts done in pursuance of that joint enterprise.That includes liability for unusual consequences if they arise from the execution of the agreed joint enterprise. However, if a participant in the venture goes beyond what has been tacitly agreed as part of the common enterprise the other participants are not liable for the consequences of that unauthorised act. It is for the jury to decide whether what was done was part of the joint enterprise or was, or may have been, an unauthorised act and therefore outside the scope of the joint enterprise '



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