Prosecution in gangland murder case failed to disclose material relating to key witness who gave evidence for crown
The court of appeal has quashed the murder convictions of five men convicted of a gangland killing after hearing of failures to reveal potentially crucial evidence to the defence.
The five men were serving life sentences totalling a minimum of 135 years for the 2002 murder of Kevin Nunes, who was taken to a country lane and shot dead in a drugs feud.
The prosecution case was left so flawed after revelations about disclosure that the Crown Prosecution Service did not oppose the convictions being overturned in court on Thursday, nor did they seek a retrial of the five men.
Richard Whittam QC told the court of appeal that the "CPS does not seek to uphold the convictions in this case, nor does it apply for any defendant to be retried".
Lord Justice Hooper, Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Stadlen overturned the convictions after hearing of "failures" in disclosure of material to the defence relating to the key prosecution witness.
The quashing of the convictions follows an investigation by the criminal cases review commission into disclosure issues in the case. The CCRC delivered a 247-page report outlining their concerns to the court of appeal in mid-December.
Levi Walker, from Birmingham, Adam Joof, from Willenhall, West Midlands, Antonio Christie, from Great Bridge, West Midlands, Michael Osbourne and Owen Crooks, both from Wolverhampton, were found guilty of the crime at Leicester crown court in 2008.
They were convicted of the murder of Nunes, 20, who was found dead in a country road in Pattingham, Staffordshire, on 19 September 2002.
Nunes, a talented footballer who had been on the books of Tottenham Hotspur, was shot five times. The convictions were gained after one man who was present, Simeon Taylor, gave evidence for the crown.
A spokesperson for the IPCC confirmed its investigation into the police chiefs and other officers involved in the original investigation were still ongoing. The four chiefs under investigation are the national lead on ethics in policing, Adrian Lee, who is now the chief constable of Northamptonshire; Suzette Davenport, the deputy chief constable of Northamptonshire; Jane Sawyers, assistant chief constable with the Staffordshire force; and Marcus Beale, assistant chief constable with West Midlands police.
The investigation is being carried out by the chief constable of Derbyshire, Mick Creedon, on behalf of the IPCC, which retains control and direction of the inquiry.
The men convicted of the murder lodged a challenge to their convictions with the court of appeal, which in turn asked the criminal cases review commission to investigate issues of disclosure in the original trial. The CCRC is the body responsible for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice.
The four police chiefs were issued with regulation 14 notices in December, informing them that their conduct was under investigation.
At least nine officers were told they were under investigation over the case. The allegations being examined by the IPCC-managed investigation include conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office.
The issuing of notices of investigation into an officer's conduct is not meant to imply any wrongdoing.