R v Craig Brian Bryce

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Justice Potter
Judgment Date18 May 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] EWCA Crim 1231
Docket NumberCase No: 2003/00495/C2
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Date18 May 2004

[2004] EWCA Crim 1231

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE

COURT OF APPEAL (CRIMINAL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM NOTTINGHAM CROWN COURT (MACKAY J)

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand,

London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

Lord Justice Potter

Mr Justice Hooper

Mr Justice Astill

Case No: 2003/00495/C2

Between:
Regina
and
Bryce

MR JOHN FOY QC appeared on behalf of the APPELLANT

MR DAVID FARRELL QC appeared on behalf of the CROWN

Lord Justice Potter

Introduction

1

On 17 December 2002 in the Crown Court at Nottingham before Mackay J and a jury the appellant was convicted by a majority verdict of 10 to 2 of murder upon Count 1 of an indictment in which he appeared charged with a number of co-defendants. On 13 January 2003 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. An alternative count of Assisting An Offender (Count 5) remained on the file under the usual terms. He appeals against conviction by leave of the single judge who granted limited leave (see further below).

2

There were two co-defendants to the charge of murder, particulars of which stated that George Black, Mary Black and the appellant "did aid and abet, counsel and procure X to murder Patrick George Moore" on 16 October 2001. X (aged 16) pleaded guilty to murder on a separate indictment and was detained during Her Majesty's Pleasure under s.28 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997. He was the principal prosecution witness at the trial. George Black was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mary Black was acquitted of murder. The facts relevant to the charge of murder were as follows.

3

During the early morning of 16 October 2001, X entered the Peterborough home of Patrick Moore and shot him in the head at close range as he slept in his bed. Moore was killed instantly.

4

It was the prosecution case that X was a drug runner for George Black who was a major dealer in drugs and that he was ordered by Black to kill Patrick Moore who was an associate drug dealer after an argument had developed between them on the previous day. It was alleged that the appellant, who also sold drugs for Black, was an accessory to the murder in that he had transported X and a gun with which he shot Moore to a caravan near to Moore's home so that X could wait for an opportunity to carry out the killing (Count 1).

5

After the murder the appellant had assisted with the retrieval and disposal of the murder weapon and had also assisted X and two other co-defendants Johal and Gray (separately charged with assisting an offender) by allowing them to clean themselves up at his home after they had moved the body of the deceased and by destroying the tea towels which the co-defendants had used to clean their hands following disposal of the body.

6

It was the defence case that the appellant (who did not give evidence) had known nothing of the plan to murder the deceased and that he had simply given X a lift on the night in question. He had not seen any weapons. It was denied that he had assisted in the plan to murder the deceased and suggested on his behalf that the Crown's evidence showed that he had hindered the plan and (despite the absence of any evidence from him or suggestion in his interview) he had distanced himself from it by introducing a delay of around 12 hours which could have prevented the murder from taking place after X had been left alone in the caravan for a long period during which he considered what Black had asked him to do.

7

So far as Count 5 was concerned, it was not admitted that the appellant had assisted in the disposal of the murder weapon and was suggested on his behalf that he had destroyed the tea towels in an attempt to protect himself after noticing blood on the men who had turned up at his home.

8

George Black (who gave evidence) denied that he had ordered X to kill the deceased but admitted that he had assisted in the removal of the deceased's body in order to help X avoid detection. All other co-defendants (except Johal who pleaded guilty to assisting an offender) denied any involvement.

9

The jury were directed that the issues which they should consider in deciding whether the appellant was an accessory to murder and whether he had aided, abetted, counselled or procured X to murder were:

i) Did the appellant assist X to commit murder by taking him and the gun to the caravan which was situated near to the home of the deceased?

ii) Did he take X to the caravan deliberately and in the knowledge that it would assist him to kill or cause really serious injury to the deceased or while realising that there was a real possibility that he might do so.

The Evidence

10

The relevant evidence can be summarised as follows.

11

X said that he had met Black shortly after Black's release from custody in 1999 and had lived with Black and his girlfriend Lynn Teat in Peterborough. In return for board, food and drugs he had worked as a drug runner for Black. The appellant had also sold drugs for Black. X said he knew Moore, the deceased, as another drug dealer who had known Black since childhood. X and Lynn Teat gave evidence concerning an argument between Black and the deceased over the telephone.

12

Lynn Teat said that shortly after the call, in the late afternoon, Moore had arrived at the home she shared with Black. Black's mother Mary was also present. An argument developed between Moore, Black and Mary Black in the street. Black had a knife and Moore had a metal baton. At some stage Moore had driven his car at Mary Black. As he was leaving, she saw Black make a gun gesture towards him. Mary Black called the police, although she claimed that she did not know the identity of the man who had threatened her.

13

Lynn Teat said that later that evening she was alone in the house with her children when Moore turned up again and told her that Black had "fucked with the wrong man this time". She begged him to leave and the police again arrived. She also failed to give Moore's name to the police.

14

X said that during that Monday evening he was contacted by Black who asked him to return home. X was taken by a man called Stuart Liquorish to Mary Black's house where he was given two parcels. He and Liquorish returned the parcels to Black and put them on the floor of the dining room. Black opened one and took out a shotgun. X said that the other, unwrapped, parcel also contained a gun. Black then telephoned the appellant and asked him to come over on his motorbike and to bring another crash helmet. The appellant arrived at Black's house and, according to X, had looked a bit shocked on seeing a loaded weapon on the floor. Black then told the appellant

"I want you to take X over to Pat's. Pat's got to be taken care of because he's gone a step too far this time. I want you to take X over because Pat's gonna be shot."

The appellant's face had dropped at this.

15

X said that Black threw him a yellow jacket, told him to put it on and showed him how to put the gun down inside his trouser leg. He also gave him a woolly glove with five cartridges. Black then told him to knock on the front door of the deceased's house and shoot him three times. The appellant was told to wait round the corner and then to bring X back. However, the appellant suggested an alternative plan and said that he knew someone with a caravan around the corner from the deceased where X could go. Black agreed and told him to sort it out and see whether X could stay there. Black then gave X a silver phone and said he was to call if there were any problems. X and the appellant then left on the appellant's motorbike.

16

X said that the appellant took him on his motorbike to a house which had a caravan in the front. The appellant then spoke to someone. He told X that he had given the person some heroin and that X would be okay to stay in the caravan. The appellant then left and a woman let X into the caravan and gave him a duvet. He tried to call Black but the phone did not work. While in the caravan he was thinking of trying to get out of the killing and had spent all night undecided.

17

It was admitted that at 10.50pm on 15 October, the appellant had checked into a hotel in Hadden. His girlfriend Heidi Smith confirmed that he had stayed in various hotels for a few nights before, due to difficulties in their relationship.

18

X said that early in the morning of the next day, Tuesday 16 October, Black visited the caravan with a woman named Sharon who gave Black a hacksaw and he cut down the barrel of the gun. He then told X

"Leave it an hour or an hour and a half and go to Pat's and shoot him."

19

X said that he wanted to tell Black that he did not want to do it but Black had stood by the bed with a gun and shot it with the duvet wrapped round the gun. X was shaken by this and took it as a message that, if he had not done as he was told, "it could have been me".

20

Black left a mobile phone with X and went away. X reloaded the gun and fell asleep. He was woken by a call from Mary Black who said that George had asked her to call him and tell him "not to forget to do a good job". X said that, spurred on by this call, he left within a few minutes and went to the home of the deceased.

21

On arriving there he knocked at the front door but there was no reply. He noticed Moore's car was parked in front. He started to walk back to the caravan and then returned to the house of the deceased and went round to the back of the property where he noticed that a panel in the back door had been blocked off after a previous raid by the police. He kicked at the panel and entered the house. He found Moore asleep in the main bedroom. As X reached his side, Moore opened his eyes and jumped forward. However X pulled the trigger and shot him...

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