THE vast majority of Wigan Evening Post readers believe that a Wigan youngster jailed for a notorious youth mob murder isn’t the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
In the light of a new BBC1 drama at the weekend highlighting the cause of those convicted under the “joint enterprise” rule, Saturday’s edition asked local folk to voice their views on the case of Jordan Cunliffe who, as a 16-year-old, was one of several teenagers jailed for killing Warrington dad Garry Newlove in 2007.
Although it wasn’t proved in court that Cunliffe laid a finger on the victim, he was found guilty of murder because he was there and did not prevent the crime.
His Pemberton-born mother Janet has campaigned that this “guilt by association” is unfair, particularly in her son’s case given that he has a degenerative eye condition which, it was claimed, prevented him from seeing properly an attack which only lasted a matter of seconds.
Her cause, and that of other members of her campaign group Jengba (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association), has been taken up by award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern who penned Sunday’s drama Common which, although fictional, drew on the Newlove case as well as others.
Parliament’s Home Select Committee is now looking into the terms under which joint enterprise convictions are now being made.
As far as local opinion is concerned, though, there was little sympathy for Jordan Cunliffe among our readers.
Commenting on our website TrainDriver2 said: “Sorry to say, but this little criminal has got everything he deserved based on the evidence presented before the court. He’s ruined his life and, more importantly, the innocent victim’s family’s life. The only regret I have is that I, the taxpayer, will end up paying for these delinquents’ lives forever.”
Gaznicki said: “Not every member of the gang was sentenced - it was not a blanket verdict. He was tried and found guilty. If his sight was that poor, how did he manage to make it to Warrington safely?”
James Joseph said: “I applaud Janet Cunliffe in sticking up for her son, but as with most mothers she might just be a bit biased. Her son obviously knew what these lads were like and he had plenty opportunities not to associate with them, but alas he chose to be part of that feral gang of scumbags and because of them an innocent man lost his life. So my sympathies lie totally with the Newlove family and the lad should learn that for every action we take there is usually a consequence.”
The Thing said: “Five were charged with the murder, two were acquitted. Jordan Cunliffe appealed in 2010, the evidence reviewed and the guilty verdict upheld. There were witnesses, CCTV footage and blood from Garry Newlove’s daughter on Cunliffe’s coat. As B Fletcher states there were also other attacks by Cunliffe and friends on the same night. He lied repeatedly in the trial and was noted to be laughing and joking in front of Newlove’s family during the trial.”
Frank and Jane said: “If Jordan Cunliffe had not been there he would not be in prison now. Gangs are tough or so they think and act when there is a lot of them. Sophie Lancaster was killed by a gang because of the way she dressed. Let JC stay in prison it could help as a warning to other gangs.”
But there was some support for the Cunliffe cause.
Responding to one call for him to get a longer sentence, Woody79 repliled: “What a ridiculous and stupid comment to make! I sincerely hope Jordan’s mum gets the justice her son rightly deserves.”
Support also came from Toni Murphy, fiancee of another man imprisoned under “joint enterprise,” Gerard Childs.
She said: “This law is imprisoning innocent working class men women and children and as a community we should stand behind what is right, JUSTICE and fight the Government’s pathetic attempt to imprison our working class for crimes they have not committed.
“In Jordan Cunliffe’s case Mrs Newlove says he is guilty because he watched the affray. However, common sense suggests if the poor lad can’t see he didnt watch anything therefore is not guilty!”