Solomon & Ors, R v, Court of Appeal - Criminal Division, March 23, 2016, [2016] EWCA Crim 95

Issuing Organization:Criminal Division
Actores:Solomon & Ors, R v
Resolution Date:March 23, 2016
 
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Case No: 201303224 C3/201303226 C3/201303229 C3/201303228/C3

Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWCA Crim 95

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CRIMINAL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM Central Criminal Court

His Honour Judge Cooke QC

T20127207/20127128/T20127140/T20127108

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 23/03/2016

Before:

LADY JUSTICE RAFFERTY DBE

MR JUSTICE COOKE

HIS HONOUR JUDGE RICHARD GRIFFITH-JONES

(SITTING AS A JUDGE OF THE COURT OF APPEAL CRIMINAL DIVISION)

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Between:

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Crispin Aylett QC for the Crown

Ian Bourne QC for Nathaniel Solomon

Stephen Kamlish QC for Christopher Gabriel

Kirsty Brimelow QC and Piers Marquis for Nathan Deacon

Non-Counsel for Al Daniels

Hearing date: 10th March 2016

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JudgmentLady Justice Rafferty:

  1. On 22nd May 2013 at the Central Criminal Court Nathaniel Solomon (26) was convicted of perverting the course of public justice (count 2). On 23rd May 2013 he was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. Nathan Deacon (28) and Christopher Gabriel (31) were each convicted of murder (count 1). On 23rd May 2013 they were sentenced to imprisonment for life, the minimum term 30 years less time on remand.

  2. Al Daniels on 22nd May 2013 was convicted of three counts of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, one of possession of a prohibited firearm, two of possessing ammunition without a certificate and one of possessing a firearm without a certificate (counts 3-5, 7, 9, 11, 12). On 28th June 2013 he was sentenced on Counts 3, 4, 7 possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life contrary to S16 Firearms Act 1968 to imprisonment for life, 14 years specified as the minimum term, on Count 5 possession of a prohibited firearm contrary to S5(1)(aba)Firearms Act 1968, and on Counts 9 11 and 12, to no separate penalty. Counts 6 and 13 (possession of a prohibited firearm), 8 (possession of ammunition without a firearm certificate), 10 (possession of prohibited ammunition) and 14 (possession of a firearm without a firearm certificate) were to lie on the file.

  3. Isaac Dawson was acquitted of murder. Tafari Deacon was acquitted of murder following a submission of no case to answer but convicted of count 2, perverting the course of public justice, and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment as was Romario Henry. Christopher Broderick was acquitted of count 2. Sachia Clarke charged with a number of firearms offences was acquitted of some and acquitted at a re-trial of the remaining.

  4. Daniels also renews his application for leave to appeal against sentence after refusal by the single judge,

  5. At approximately 2300 on Monday 6th June 2011 18 year old Nana Darko-Frempong (``Nana'') as he reached his home in Tulse Hill was passed by a dark grey Ford Focus with per two witnesses, two occupants. At least two guns, a sawn-off shotgun and a self-loading pistol, were fired at him from close range. He died at the scene. Next morning at 0430 a dark grey Ford Focus, stolen months before, was set alight in a car park in Camberwell (count 2). In the area was a black Alfa Romeo Guilietta attributed to Tafari Deacon.

  6. The Crown's case was that Christopher Gabriel, Nathan and Tafari Deacon (brothers), and Isaac Dawson were parties to the murder, Nathaniel Solomon, Romario Henry, Christopher Broderick and Tafari Deacon set fire to the Ford Focus, and Al Daniels provided the guns which his girlfriend Sachia Clarke looked after. There was no motive for the killing and eye witness evidence was limited. No evidence of gang rivalry or motive was before the jury. The Crown relied on cell site evidence, CCTV footage, DNA in the cases of Nathan Deacon and Daniels, ballistic/firearms evidence and close association.

    Events leading up to the murder: Edwards House (``EH'') 1 (``EH1'')

  7. The Crown led that on the evening of the murder Dawson, the Deacons and Gabriel went twice to EH to collect the guns, first between 21.26 and 21.55. A silver Ford Focus, similar to one hired by Dawson in 2011 and a black BMW series 3 were captured on CCTV entering the car park at the back of Best One Shop, close to EH. The footage was poor quality but two men were seen to emerge from each vehicle and to walk towards EH. A fifth, the driver of the Focus, Isaac Dawson per the Crown, remained in the vehicle.

  8. Based on evidence from Dawson who at trial made all the identifications, on the cell site evidence, on fingerprint evidence and on the use by Deacon and Solomon of a black BMW in the two months pre-murder, the Crown led that Deacon and Solomon were in the BMW and Tafari Deacon and Gabriel in the Focus. As they arrived Dawson's phone made contact with Clarke, who rang Daniels, cell-sited in Camberwell. The vehicles left at 2153, the men, the Crown said, empty handed.

  9. Edwards House 2 (``EH2'') was between 2235 and 2256. The Focus entered the car park, the BMW, per the Crown, having been taken to Battersea by Solomon. The Crown led that the defendants' group also had use of a dark grey Focus stolen months earlier, parked close by. CCTV footage captured five men, all hooded, alighting from it. Based on cell site evidence and inference the Crown led that these were Dawson, the Deacons, Gabriel and Broderick. They walked towards EH. At 2256 the vehicle left with three occupants. A cell serving the general area and the downstairs of EH was activated by Daniels's phone at 2237 and 2240 At 0040 his phone was cell sited by a mast serving EH, consistent, the Crown led, with his returning the guns.

  10. At the close of the Crown's case further CCTV footage was found (``Best One Shop footage''), clear film of Daniels with other males leaving EH at about 2230. At trial Dawson identified one as Romario Henry in a ``two-tone'' top. When the three men left at 2256 one wore a top identical to that worn by Henry. Dawson told the jury this was Broderick

    Post-murder: Seizure of weapons

  11. On 10th June 2011 Isaac Dawson told DC Palmer that responsible for the shooting were Gabriel, Nathan Deacon, ``Mario'' and ``Alfred'', who lived above the Best One Shop where the guns could be found. A search later that day of Flat 15, EH, Tulse Hill home of Sachia Clarke yielded a sawn-off shotgun, a self-loading pistol and ammunition for both. Both were used in the killing. A bullet at the scene was consistent with having been fired from the pistol. A coat belonging to Daniels bore gunshot residue (``GSR'') but of a different type from that associated with the killing, led as relevant to whether he had a connection to firearms.

    DNA

  12. DNA from at least three was on the slide grips and hammer spur of the pistol. No match probability was led due to the size (1 nanogram) and quality of the sample. A statistician Prof Balding concluded that the match probability of the profile having come from someone other than, and unrelated to, Nathan Deacon was 1: 19,000. For Daniels it was 1: 1 billion.

    Arrest and interviews

  13. On 11th June 2011 Clarke was arrested. Her prepared statement read that Daniels stayed at her flat to which he had the keys and she had not seen the shotgun before. On 25th August 2011 Dawson was arrested. His prepared statement denied involvement in the murder. In evidence he implicated others. On 5th January 2012 Daniels was arrested and his prepared statement denied knowledge of the firearms and ammunition at Clarke's flat or discussions with her re firearms.

  14. In March 2012 Isaac Dawson's former girlfriend Zainab Ali told police Dawson had told her he had been involved in the murder. The judge permitted counsel for Gabriel to cross-examine her on a letter to her from Dawson from prison and on the contents of a prison call as relevant to Dawson's credibility.

  15. On 2nd March 2012 Gabriel was arrested. His prepared statement denied involvement in the murder, asserted he had never been into 15 EH and knew no one connected to the property. On 29th August 2012 Solomon was arrested and in interview answered no questions and did not offer a prepared statement. Nathan Deacon was not interviewed.

    Christopher Gabriel

  16. The Crown's case had four strands: (i) the broad location of his mobile over a short period pre- and post- murder; (ii) his accepted associations with some defendants prior to 6th June 2011; (iii) his presence at some time in the silver Focus and black Alfa; and (iv) his cessation of use of his phone post-murder.

  17. He did not give evidence. His defence was that there was no direct evidence, no evidentially based sightings of him relevant to the killing, no evidence he was with the other defendants on 6th and 7th June, no scientific evidence and no motive or evidence of hostility.

  18. A submission of no case was made by each defendant save Dawson. The judge said the case was quintessentially about association and the significance of phone and potentially physical contact. Inferred knowledge and participation was central. The cell site evidence potentially placed Gabriel close to the murder and during the relevant time he was in contact with others against whom there was a case to answer and following the killing he abandoned his phone card. The DNA linking Nathan Deacon to the pistol had to be viewed with the cell site evidence placing him in the vicinity at EH2. He was also in contact with others against whom there was a case to answer and following the murder he stopped using his phone.

  19. Gabriel, Nathan Deacon and Daniels applied to sever their trial from that of Dawson. The judge rejected the application. Only in exceptional circumstances would severance be justified. A fair trial to all could be ensured with judicial directions.

    Nathan Deacon

  20. The case against him had three strands: (i) cell site evidence of his movements pre-murder and his association with others post-murder; (ii) his DNA on the pistol; and (iii) his cessation of use of his phone post-murder. He neither gave nor called evidence. His defence was that he was not present. A 22.47 8 second connected call from his...

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