Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Five cleared of drug dealer murder

Kevin Nunes was found dead in Staffordshire in 2002 (PA/Staffordshire Police)

Five men jailed for life for the murder of a drug dealer in an "execution-style" killing have had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Levi Walker, from Birmingham, Adam Joof, from Willenhall, West Midlands, Antonio Christie, from Great Bridge, West Midlands, Michael Osbourne and Owen Crooks, both from Wolverhampton, were found guilty of the crime at Leicester Crown Court in 2008.

They were convicted of the murder Kevin Nunes, 20, an amateur footballer, who was found dead in a country road in Pattingham, Staffordshire, on September 19 2002. He had five gunshot wounds.

But three judges in London heard that the Crown Prosecution Service no longer sought to uphold their convictions and did not apply for a retrial.

After hearing of "failures" in disclosure of material to the defence relating to the key prosecution witness, Lord Justice Hooper, Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Stadlen overturned the convictions.

Walker, Christie and Osbourne were all 28 when they were jailed, Joof was 27 and Crooks 26. Walker and Christie are both now 32, Osbourne 34, Joof 31 and Crooks 30. All of them apart from Crooks watched the proceedings via video-link from prison.

When sentencing them to life, the trial judge Mr Justice Treacy told Joof and Christie they would serve a minimum of 28 years behind bars. Walker and Osbourne were given minimum terms of 27 years and Crooks 25 years.

Richard Whittam QC told the three judges that the "CPS does not seek to uphold the convictions in this case, nor does it apply for any defendant to be retried". He pointed out that it was a matter for this court "as to whether the convictions are unsafe or not".

Mr Whittam told the judges that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) "is conducting an inquiry in relation to matters arising out of the murder of Kevin Nunes". The QC did not name any officer during the proceedings. "I am not going to say anything that would compromise that inquiry," he said.

In December 2011, the IPCC said it was investigating four senior officers following allegations of misconduct relating to the case. It said notices of investigation had been served on "a number of former and serving Staffordshire Police officers". A spokeswoman for the IPCC said: "The investigation is ongoing."

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