Rashford, R v, Court of Appeal - Criminal Division, December 13, 2005, [2005] EWCA Crim 3377

Issuing Organization:Criminal Division
Actores:Rashford, R v
Resolution Date:December 13, 2005
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SMITH BERNAL WORDWAVE

No: 2004/4818/B3

Neutral Citation Number: [2005] EWCA Crim 3377

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

CRIMINAL DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand

London, WC2

Tuesday, 13 December 2005

B E F O R E:

LORD JUSTICE DYSON

MR JUSTICE TOMLINSON

MR JUSTICE ANDREW SMITH

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R E G I N A

-v-

NICHOLAS RASHFORD

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Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of

Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited

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MR R MARKS QC AND MR B MYERS appeared on behalf of the APPELLANT

MR M CHAMBERS QC AND MR M LEWIS-JONES appeared on behalf of the CROWN

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J U D G M E N T1. LORD JUSTICE DYSON: On 22nd July 2004 the appellant was convicted by a majority of 10 to 2 of the murder of Alex Doyle. Speeches and evidence occupied four days of court time. The jury considered their verdict over a period of two days. He was sentenced to custody for life with a minimum recommended term of fifteen-and-a-half years.

2. The appellant was born on 21st July 1985. He appeals against conviction on ground 1 by the leave of the single judge and renews his application for leave to appeal against conviction on grounds 3 and 4 following refusal by the single judge. He also renews his application for leave to appeal against sentence following refusal of leave by the single judge.

3. The first ground of appeal concerns the direction given by the trial judge in relation to self-defence. It was not in dispute that the deceased died at about 11.30pm on 13th February 2004 in Wilmslow. He died as a result of a wound from a knife which penetrated his heart. Nor was it disputed that it was the appellant who stabbed the deceased. His principal defence was accident, but alternatively self-defence.

4. It was the prosecution case that the appellant went to Wilmslow from Wythenshawe carrying the knife because he wanted to teach the deceased a lesson. It was a revenge attack arising out of an earlier trivial argument. The defence case was that he went to Wilmslow in order, using his term, to "chill" - that is to say to have a pleasant evening with his friends. He took the knife with him solely for protection from other people, not the deceased, with whom he had had some kind of problem.

5. The evidence of what occurred as given at the trial can be summarised as follows. The appellant, the deceased and the majority of the younger civilian prosecution witnesses were friends. Parties at 46 Linfield Estate, North Wilmslow were held every Friday night and were frequented by most of the younger prosecution witnesses. During the late afternoon of 13th February 2004 the appellant, the deceased, Thomas Skarratt, Carlton Harris and Luke Conway met at 5 Tarvin Way, Handforth which is a short distance from Wilmslow. They drank and there was some horseplay. In the course of this an argument developed between Luke Conway, the appellant and the deceased. The deceased and the appellant fell out with one another. Certain witnesses described them as 'squaring up to each other', but there was no physical violence and, as we have said, it was generally agreed that the incident was trivial. Whilst at 5 Tarvin Way the knife which caused the fatal wound to the deceased was produced by the appellant. He maintained that he had taken it out of his pocket because it was uncomfortable when he sat down. He placed it on the table next to him. Other witnesses said that he had been showing it to people at the house, although the appellant denied that.

6. The young men then took a bus which was to take them from Handforth to Wilmslow and thereafter they were to go to No 46. The appellant got off the bus at Lacey Green. He intended to meet the others later on. The appellant told the jury that he carried the knife for protection. It was his case that he had been threatened by youths from Wythenshawe and Stretford and had been subjected to violence by them. To some extent this explanation was supported by the evidence of Zoe Greenwell, Bobak Mojdeh and Danny McGowan. Danny McGowan lived with his grandmother at No 46.

7. The appellant took the knife with him from 5 Tarvin Way and he had it in his possession when he went on to No 46. Before going to No 46 he spent some time in Wilmslow. With him were two friends. The prosecution case was that the appellant had recruited these two young men as backup for a planned trip to No 46 where he would exact his revenge upon the deceased. The appellant maintained that he had only met them by chance after he had got off the bus and gone home before going on to Wilmslow. He had suggested they accompany him to the party to be held at No 46.

8. Whilst in Wilmslow the appellant was seen by Thomas Skarratt. Mr Skarratt said that the appellant told him that he was going to Danny's (that is to say No 46) to find Alex (the deceased). Mr Skarratt believed that this would lead to trouble with the deceased. He telephoned those at No 46 to warn them of the appellant's intentions as he perceived them to be. It was the appellant's case that he had said nothing to justify a telephone call in these terms.

9. When Mr Skarratt's telephone call had been received by those at No 46 they thought that there was going to be trouble between the appellant and the deceased. Luke Conway, who was one of those present, said that Alex Doyle had said: "If he wants a fight I'll batter him anyway" - referring to the appellant. Luke Conway left No 46 before anybody else - this would have been at about 11.20 pm. He met the appellant, who was with the two other young men, some eighty yards away from No 46. He said to the appellant: "Leave it out, don't bother, there's no point in fighting" and that the appellant had said: "I'm not taking no shit from nobody." Shortly after this, all of those who were in the house ran out into the street towards the point where Luke Conway, the appellant and the two other young men were standing. There were approximately ten people in all.

10. Mr Carlton Harris gave evidence to the effect that he remembered Mr Skarratt arriving at about 11pm that night. His remarks had prompted everybody to go outside where they saw the appellant who was shouting aggressively. The group from the house walked towards them. An argument ensued between the deceased and the appellant which developed into a fight. They were pushing each other and others got involved. The appellant produced the knife that he had seen earlier and began swinging it. He heard him tell the deceased something like: "I'm going to chiv you" - 'chiv' apparently means stab. He then swung the knife from side to side towards the deceased's abdomen. The latter managed to push him away and they began to wrestle. The appellant made another move with his knife, apparently making contact with the left side of his chest. Mr Harris was about two or three feet away from the deceased. The deceased staggered about five or ten feet and then fell to the ground.

11. Mr Skarratt told the jury that the appellant and the deceased were standing a few feet away from him, apparently preparing to fight. They went for each other and he heard a shout, apparently from Carlton Harris, of: "What the fuck's the knife for?" The deceased then went backwards and he next saw him on the ground.

12. Mr Phillip Cross said that when he went out of No 46 he saw the appellant who seemed angry and drunk. He and the deceased began shouting at each other. He heard the word "dickhead" used and a scuffle ensued. A girl, Zoe Greenwall, tried to intervene and he saw blood on her hand. The appellant then hit the deceased two or three times in the chest with soft punches. He then saw a knife in his hand protruding outwards which he was moving across his body. He was about seven feet away from him. The appellant and the deceased both stepped back and he, Mr Cross, snatched the knife. He said that both the appellant and the deceased had been aggressive. The group from the house had far outnumbered the appellant's group....

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