‘Operation Garland’ saw the prosecution of eight men and one woman following the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old man outside a house party in Burton on Trent on 11th December 2021. All nine were charged with murder and manslaughter in the alternative.  

Leading Steve Hennessy of the Smith Partnership and instructed by Lorraine Horton, Phil Bradley KC represented ‘JL’, who was 16 years old at the time of the killing.

The case prosecuted by Michael Burrows KC was that the female defendant messaged her Derby-based boyfriend (CC) of being sexually pestered at the party in Burton. CC then gathered together a group of his friends to attend the party to effect revenge.  They travelled in three separate cars from Derby to Burton. Some carried knives and witnesses claimed a gun was also waved around when the violence started.  The man who allegedly pestered the female defendant was attacked with a knife but escaped serious injury. The victim intervened in an attempt to protect him.  In doing so, he was fatally stabbed by CC.      

JL and two other defendants arrived at the party in the third car. His case was that he never left the car and in fact witnessed the stabbing.  The prosecution rejected that claim, arguing that they were there to offer assistance and encouragement and were an intrinsic part of the plan.

After five days in retirement, on 21st March the jury unanimously convicted CC of murder. His girlfriend and one other defendant were convicted of manslaughter and a fourth defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the course of the trial.  JL, the other occupants of the third car and two others were unanimously acquitted. 

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