A teenager who exchanged fire in a gunfight leading to the death of a passer-by died has been found guilty of murder despite not firing the fatal shot. The Supreme Court upheld a ruling of guilty for Armel Gnango who was held to be responsible for the death of care worker Magda Pniewska who was caught in the cross-fire of a shooting in New Cross, south London four years ago.
The 26-year old Polish care worker had been walking home from a nursing home where she worked through a carpark and talking to her sister on her mobile phone when she was killed by a single shot to her head. That shot was fired in an exchange of fire between two gunmen – Gnango and a man known only as ‘bandana man’ who escaped.
In a key ruling on what is known as the ‘joint enterprise’ principle, the Supreme Court restored Gnango’s murder conviction and overturned a Court of Appeal ruling.
You can read Francis FitzGibbon QC’s analysis of Gnango and the law of joint enterprise in relation to murder and gang culture HERE.
‘Of course gang violence is a scourge in some places in the UK; and people die pointlessly in gang fights… . Lord Brown expressed the view that the public would be ‘astonished and appalled if in those circumstances the law attached liability for the death only to the gunman who actually fired the fatal shot (which it would not always be possible to determine)’. He may well be right. However, the trouble with the present law is that it allows prosecutors to cast the net too wide in some cases.’
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award