Murder case defendants walk free following 'joint enterprise' ruling
The first defendants in a murder trial have walked free from Britain's most famous criminal court following the shock ruling on joint enterprise law.
On Thursday February 18, the Supreme Court found that trial judges had been wrongly interpreting the law for 30 years over co-defendants in murder cases who did not strike the killer blow.
The same day, defence lawyers at the Old Bailey applied for charges to be thrown out in the case of two young men accused of stabbing to death 24-year-old Ahmed Ahmed in Plumstead.
The legal bid on behalf of Khalid Hashi, 23, nicknamed Van Damme, and Hamza Dodi, 24, was unopposed by the Crown Prosecution Service which took into account the Ameen Jogee ruling immediately after it was given.
The following day, Judge Paul Worsley ruled that the pair had no case to answer and they were formally acquitted in front of the jury on Monday February 22.
The fallout from the landmark Jogee ruling could not be reported until the conclusion of the Old Bailey trial of other co-defendants involved in the Plumstead murder.
Today, Osman Musa Mohamed, 20, aka Ratface, was convicted of Mr Ahmed's murder. He has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years.
Hussein Roble, 18, aka "Stewie", from the Woolwich area of south London, was cleared of the same charge.
The court had heard how Mr Ahmed was knifed repeatedly in the leg when he walked out of the block of flats where he lived in Plumstead on August 10 last year.
Wearing hoods and scarves over their faces, the killers had lain in wait outside, having forced Mr Ahmed's friend Monzir Mohamed to go to the door.
The court heard how Mr Ahmed was seen by a witness to come downstairs and push the door release button as if he was going outside to speak to them.
But instead, the men rushed in and attacked him. Three of the mob wrestled him to the ground while another attacked him with a kitchen knife, while others swarmed around.
Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC told jurors that the victim had "absolutely no idea" what was about to happen to him. It was unclear whether the killer switched their target from another man to Mr Ahmed.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said: "The CPS carefully considered the recent Supreme Court judgment (R v Jogee, Ruddock v R) and its impact on this case.
"In light of this and the evidence given during the trial it was determined that there were no grounds to oppose submissions of no case to answer for these two defendants."
Following the Supreme Court ruling, lawyers predicted that thousands of prisoners would seek legal advice on appealing against their convictions.
However, the effects were felt straight away in live criminal cases going through the Crown Courts.
During an unrelated hearing at the Old Bailey, a defence lawyer indicated she was considering an application to dismiss the case against another murder accused in light of the Jogee ruling before it reached trial later this year.
Justices had said the interpretation of part of the law relating to joint enterprise - which can result in people being convicted of assault or murder even if they did not strike the blow - had taken a "new turn" in the mid-1980s.
Senior judges decided in 1984 that a "secondary party" would be guilty of murder if he or she "foresaw" the possibility that the "principal" might act with intent to cause death or serious harm
The Supreme Court said that development was wrong. Justices said it was not right that someone should be guilty merely because they foresaw that a co-accused might commit a crime.
They said jurors should view "foresight" only as evidence to be taken into account, not as proof.