THE Wigan mother of a boy jailed for a notorious murder has taken her campaign for his release to the country’s top solicitor.
Janet Cunliffe this week met the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, in her latest bid to overturn cases of those jailed for “guilt by association” and prevent it from happening to others in future
The Pemberton woman’s son Jordan Cunliffe is currently behind bars for his involvement in the brutal killing of Warrington dad Garry Newlove.
Even though the teenager did not lay a finger on the victim, he was successfully prosecuted because he was there, part of the gang that beat to death the dad of three in 2007 and did nothing to prevent fellow teens Adam Swellings and Stephen Sorton from doing so.
But Mrs Cunliffe says her then 16-year-old son did not see the attack – which was over in a matter of seconds – because he has a degenerative eye condition which severely blurs his vision.
She founded Jengba – Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association - which is fighting for those convicted of serious crimes even if they did not themselves play an active role. And it has been gaining growing support, not least from the award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern who has now been commissioned by the BBC to pen a TV play or series about the issue.
Mrs Cunliffe, who met Mr Starmer with Gloria Morrison, the Jengba Campaign Co Ordinator, said: “We told the director of our concerns and he did understand where we were coming from. I asked him what advice he could give us as obviously he has to follow the letter of the law as it stands.
“He said we should start lobbying MPs and Parliament to get a change. He was quite sympathetic which was a bit surprising and quite encouraging.
“He and another prosecutor took notes of everything we said including the fact that we are supporting the cases of 350 prisoners’ cases in total. We were saying that not all guilt by association cases involved gangs and pre-planned incidents. Sometimes they were spontaneous fights, in pubs say, which are over in a matter of seconds before third parties can react.
“We said that some prosecutors were being rather malicious in using this part of the law to prosecute people which it really shouldn’t cover.
“He showed us draft guidelines which could be issued urging prosecutors to be more stringent in how they apply this law, which is something.”