Parents of boys convicted of Jack Woodley murder question verdicts | British news

Written by Javed Iqbal

Mother of one of 10 boys convicted of the murder of Jack Woodley in a joint venture has said she is “devastated” as her son “hadn’t murdered anyone”.

A judge handed down 10 life sentences with minimum terms ranging from eight to 17 years at Newcastle crown court on Friday morning for the killing of 18-year-old Woodley, who died a day after an unprovoked attack by the group of boys in Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, last October.

One of the killers, none of whom can be named because they were between the ages of 14 and 17 at the time of the killing, stabbed Woodley in the fight with a “Rambo-style” knife, while others punched and kicked him after chasing him down. an alley.

But the parents of two of the boys said their children were not murderers and should not have been convicted.

The youngest boy, who had just turned 14 at the time of the murder, was diagnosed with learning disabilities during the trial and was described as having a mental age of 10. He was sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison.

His mother said her son understands he should be punished for trying to kick Woodley, which he admitted in a police interview, but “he doesn’t understand why he’s being murdered”.

“That’s the hardest thing I’ve tried to explain to him is that it’s a joint venture.”

Joint ventures are used to convict those who participated in the planning or helped carry out a crime such as murder, predominantly in gang warfare cases.

The mother of another boy, who was filmed going in to kick Woodley, but who had not been with the group until moments before the killing and left before the end of the violence, said it was a “massive shock”.

The boy, now 16, broke down in tears when his sentence of 11 years was handed down, which took into account the mandatory minimum of 12 years for a child who has committed murder.

In the judge’s words, there was “very little evidence as to how he got to the scene” as there were no witnesses to his involvement and, unlike the other boys, the judge said he had not gone to the fair expecting to use violence.

The woman said: “He should never have been found guilty if he didn’t murder anyone. He wasn’t involved, no witnesses said that.

“The most shocking part is that he should not be found guilty of a crime he did not commit.”

The five-week murder trial heard how Woodley was attacked at Houghton Feast on October 16 by one of the boys and was chased by the group, who caught up with him outside the Britannia Inn and punched, kicked and stamped on him, eventually. stabbed him twice.

Although the fatal stabbing was carried out by a 15-year-old who had bragged earlier that day that he planned to stab someone, the other nine boys were convicted under controversial joint enterprise laws that allowed them to be tried jointly for murder , though they did not deliver the blow that killed him.

On Monday, Judge Jameson heard from Woodley’s parents who described how they were “struggling to cope” with their son’s death.

In her victim impact statement, his mother, Zoe McGill, told the court: “[We] don’t think we can ever attend another fair as it will bring back such painful memories. This has destroyed the lives of our families and life will never be the same without Jack.”

The legal representatives of nine of the 10 teenagers announced plans to appeal.

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Javed Iqbal

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