Ameen Jogee cleared of murder, sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter
This morning at Nottingham Crown Court, following a three week retrial of his case, Ameen Jogee was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the manslaughter of Paul Fyfe. A jury acquitted Jogee of murder earlier in the month and returned a manslaughter verdict last Monday. As he has already served five years in prison, Jogee will now only be required to serve another nine months before he is released.
Today’s sentencing marks the end of a high profile legal battle for Jogee who, in February, won a landmark appeal in the Supreme Court that led to his original murder conviction being quashed and a retrial ordered.
His lawyers had argued in the Supreme Court that the ‘joint enterprise’ legal principle under which he was convicted in 2012 had been incorrectly applied at his original trial and was also being incorrectly applied across the courts. The Supreme Court agreed and allowed his appeal.
It also restored a pre-1984 rule that, for someone to be found guilty of a crime under joint enterprise, then they either needed to have committed the crime directly or – if they were a secondary party present at the scene – to have ‘intentionally assisted or encouraged’ the crime, rather than merely having had some ‘foresight’ that the crime might take place.
In the court’s words:
‘The correct rule is that foresight is simply evidence (albeit sometimes strong evidence) of intent to assist or encourage, which is the proper mental element for establishing secondary liability.’
Eyewitnesses who attended Jogee’s retrial told The Justice Gap that the main prosecution witness in the case, Paul Fyfe’s former partner – who was present at the scene on the night Fyfe died – had attended the retrial reluctantly and only after the police had threatened to arrest her. As she gave evidence at the retrial, she reportedly told the court: ‘This is what you (The Crown Prosecution Service) keep doing. You keep asking me the same question over and over again and I keep on giving you the same answer. He (Jogee) is not a murderer. He didn’t encourage or assist Mo (Mohammed Hirsi). He didn’t egg him on.’
The Crown Prosecution Service had taken four witness statements from her and at the retrial had sought to question her on the contents of her fourth statement. That statement contained testimony that on the night Fyfe died, Jogee had ‘waved a bottle around’ and shouted ‘come on’ outside the house. However, at the retrial she refused to confirm the contents of her fourth statement and the CPS had to make a formal application to turn her into a hostile witness.
Just before the hearing was adjourned for sentencing, Jogee’s barrister, Felicity Gerry QC, told the court: ‘Ameen Jogee falls to be sentenced as an accessory to manslaughter not murder. We cannot underestimate how hard it is for a young man to serve a life sentence as he did in these circumstances.’ Gerry read out a letter Mr Jogee had written to the judge, in which he expressed his remorse and informed the court about the qualifications he’d studied for in prison.
Jogee’s mother Rachel Whitehead tweeted: ‘Finally justice for my boy. (It’s taken) five years to prove he is innocent. Happy we’re on the road home. I now see a future with my son, something I didn’t think I would see until I was an elderly lady.’
The campaign group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA) welcomed the manslaughter verdict but not the sentence. Speaking to The Justice Gap, JENGbA campaigner Gloria Morrison said: ‘We feel disappointed with the 12 year sentence. It seems very harsh considering Ameen was just standing outside. However, he will be home next year and there are still thousands of other people (convicted under joint enterprise) who won’t be.’
‘We do feel vindicated because had we not campaigned for the change in the law, the Supreme Court would not have come to its decision that the law took a ‘wrong turn’ in 1984 and Ameen would still be labelled a murderer. However, we still need better guidance on what constitutes ‘presence’ regarding aiding and abetting under the common law.’
Morrison said that JENGbA was still waiting for decisions regarding four joint enterprise appeals heard in the Court of Appeal together back in June. ‘Michael Hall’s case in particular is shocking,’ she said. ‘He’s challenging the murder conviction that he was given for being in the same car park where a murder took place. He’s been in prison now for nine years.’
‘JENGbA intervened in the Court of Appeal hearing to put forward our view of what constitutes “substantial injustice” as per paragraph 100 of the Supreme Court’s February judgment,’ she said. ‘For us, being given the “murderer” label and receiving incredibly long mandatory sentences should be enough to qualify as substantial injustice. Despite today’s sentence, Rachel Whitehead is happy that her son Ameen Jogee will no longer be branded a murderer.’
Sandeep Kaushal of Defence Law Ltd solicitors, who represented Ameen Jogee, called the case ‘a miscarriage of justice that was corrected after five years of hard work and the will to challenge a legal error’.
Miranda is a commissioning editor on www.thejusticegap.com. She tweets at @MirandaGrell