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View Full Version : First trial without jury in 350 years



David Guyatt
03-31-2010, 10:34 AM
The thin edge of the Wedge - or the face of the future? You choose.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8582354.stm


Gang convicted of Heathrow raid


Peter Blake went on the run during the trial without a jury
A gang has been found guilty at the old Bailey of carrying out a 1.75m armed robbery at Heathrow Airport.
John Twomey and Glen Cameron, of Hampshire, Peter Blake and Barry Hibberd, of Notting Hill, targeted a Menzies World Cargo warehouse in 2004.
All four men were found guilty of robbery and having a firearm with intent to commit robbery.
The case was the first crown court criminal trial to be held without a jury for more than 350 years.
Jury 'tampering'
Since 2005 three previous trials, lasting up to six months at a time, collapsed.
The case became the first to be tried without jury after the Court of Appeal ruled last June there was a serious danger that a jury could be influenced.
Blake was also found guilty of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
The 57-year-old went on the run while the trial was taking place at the Royal Courts of Justice. He pleaded guilty to breaching his bail conditions.
Hibberd was found not guilty of 13 charges on unrelated firearms offences concerning a cache of weapons at a lock-up garage in Uxbridge, west London.

Magda Hassan
03-31-2010, 11:06 AM
Why not just skip the enlightenment altogether? Stay in the Dark Ages for ever and ever. Wow, this is a bad sign.
The case became the first to be tried without jury after the Court of Appeal ruled last June there was a serious danger that a jury could be influenced. Can't have the jury being influenced hey? Especially by the wrong party. Can't have them exercising their own mind on any matter. They might come to the wrong decision. Lets abolish voting too while we are at it. People might vote for the wrong party.

Jan Klimkowski
03-31-2010, 05:28 PM
The crime reads like a scene from Goodfellas.

The legal process (or lack thereof) is being appealed to the European Court of Human Rights:


Heathrow robbery defence lawyers to appeal against trial without jury

Lawyers for four men jailed over 1.75m armed robbery say lack of jury breaches right to fair trail

The first serious criminal trial in 400 years to be held without a jury ended today with the conviction of four men for an armed robbery at Heathrow airport and their lawyers complaining that the evidence that triggered the unprecedented move had been kept secret.

The gang were tried and convicted by Mr Justice Treacy after the previous three trials collapsed, the last two amid allegations that the jurors had been "compromised".

John Twomey, 61, Peter Blake, 57, Glenn Cameron, 50, and Barry Hibberd, 43, were all found guilty of carrying out the 1.75m robbery in 2004.

Despite the end of the case, the crown seemed set to keep secret the evidence that led senior judges to order Britain's first serious criminal trial to be tried without a jury for hundreds of years.

The case is estimated to have cost 25m, much more than the amount the robbers stole.

Twomey, who was the gang's leader, Blake, Cameron and Hibberd were convicted after the judge heard evidence that they were responsible for "a professionally planned and professionally executed" armed robbery of the Menzies warehouse at Heathrow airport in February 2004, in which one member of staff was shot at and attacked.

Wearing masks, fluorescent jackets and dark woollen hats the men were armed and had been tipped off by an insider to the fact that currency was being stored in the warehouse.

During the raid the four rounded up the Menzies staff, and the prosecution say Blake fired repeatedly at David Westwood with a handgun. The robbery, which was set up using an inside man, was supposed to have netted the gang 10m. But they misread the airline manifest showing the number of bags in the warehouse and only made off with 1.75m none of which has been recovered.

CCTV footage produced by the prosecution showed Twomey, Cameron and Hibberd arriving at a hotel near Heathrow shortly after the robbery carrying what the crown said were a holdall and a large plastic bag, which appeared to be stuffed with the money.

During the fourth trial, which began in January, all the defendants were initially on bail but Blake walked out of the court and disappeared for three days. He returned to apologise to the judge and was remanded in custody along with his co-defendants to await a verdict.

There would have been no forensic evidence at the scene but for Blake's struggle with Westwood, during which the robber's mask was torn.

All four men denied the charges, including robbery and firearms possession.

Twomey was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and says he expects to die in jail. Blake received a life sentence, with the judge recommending a minimum term of almost 11 years, Hibberd was sentenced to 17 years and Cameron to 15.

The judge said: "On the third attempt to try this case a serious attempt at jury tampering took place. I do not know whether any or all of you was responsible."

The court of appeal refused Twomey's lawyers the right to appeal against their decision on a juryless trial at the supreme court. James Saunders, representing Twomey, told the Guardian he would challenge that refusal at the European court of human rights.

"It seems to us the most basic breach of Article 6 (the right to a fair trial)," said Saunders. "The ruling was made on the basis of secret material, which we have never seen, presented by witnesses whose identity other than their rank in the Metropolitan police has not been disclosed to us, which we have been told relates to jury tampering. That is all we have been told. We have never been able to put forward any sort of defence to the allegation of jury tampering because we do not know what the evidence for this is."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, criticised the decision to dispense with a jury: "Jury trial has been an age-old method of boosting confidence and legitimacy in the criminal justice system. Without it, the professional classes appear to sit in permanent judgment over ordinary people.

"If the excuse for axing juries is witness intimidation, you might as well wave a white flag at violent criminals. How will you persuade witnesses and victims to come forward if you can't even protect your jurors?"

The judge-only trial was ordered after the Crown Prosecution Service applied for the unprecedented measure and senior judges heard evidence in secret from detectives about the jury tampering allegations. One judge first refused to dispense with a jury, but this was overturned on appeal in a hearing presided over by the lord chief justice.

Factors for dispensing with a jury included the fact that the amount of protection and special measures needed could prejudice the defendants' rights to a fair trial.

In its judgment the court of appeal said: "The danger of jury tampering and the subversion of the process of trial by jury is very significant."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/mar/31/heathrow-robbery-appeal-trial-jury