Men acquitted of murder after first trial in ‘super court’

Tue, 01 Mar 2022

‘Operation Zeroth’ involved the prosecution of eight men and one woman, following the death of a man in Leamington Spa on 28th June 2020. All nine defendants were charged with Murder (Manslaughter in the alternative) and with an additional count of Conspiracy to Commit Grievous Bodily Harm.

Javarnty Scott was represented by Phil Bradley QC, leading Joe Keating and instructed by Richard Ellis of Purcell Parker Solicitors. Tau Randall was represented by Talbir Singh, leading Tarlowchan Dubb of Equity Chambers and was instructed by Adil Khan of Mian and Co, Birmingham 

The prosecution case centred on the activities of rival drugs gangs which supplied Class A drugs on a ‘county lines’ model to addicts in Leamington Spa.  Tensions between them began after members of the Birmingham-based gang forced their way into the Leamington property from which the Coventry gang sold its drugs. They assaulted and robbed its occupants. The Coventry gang retaliated a day later by luring one of the Birmingham gang’s runners into a side street, where he was fiercely assaulted.

Within days of that attack, two cars containing the nine Birmingham-based defendants left Birmingham bound for Leamington.  Within minutes of arriving, the leader of the Coventry gang was seen leaving the flat where the robbery had taken place earlier that week. Four of the Birmingham-based defendants got out of the cars and ran towards him. He subsequently died from a single stab wound to the chest.

Javarnty Scott and Tau Randall each claimed they had nothing to do with either drugs line. In particular, Javarnty Scott told police he knew none of his co-defendants except the driver of one of the cars (Darnelle Sappleton) whom he met during lockdown. In the days before the death, Sappleton had driven Javarnty Scott around to ‘break the boredom of lockdown’.  On the evening of the death, Sappleton was contacted by another co-defendant (subsequently convicted of the murder) and agreed to give him a lift.

In the course of his closing speech to the Jury, Phil Bradley QC pointed out that Mr Scott did nothing beyond sitting in the car and (echoing the words of the officer who presented the CCTV evidence) described him as a “consistently passive passenger”.  He also emphasised the difference in clothing between the main defendants (some of whom had changed into dark clothing) and Javarnty Scott, who wore a bright T-Shirt and sliders and posed the rhetorical question, “Was he dressed up to kill or dressed down to chill?”

In the course of his closing speech to the jury, Talbir Singh urged that the jury focus upon Mr Randall’s 3 dimensional defence, namely that Mr Randall was drunk, disabled and dislocated ( as a result) from any of the activities which were taking place that night.

Because of the huge backlog created by the Covid-19 pandemic, this case was selected to be the first to be tried at the new, so-called ‘Super Court’ at Loughborough, which was created to ease the burden on other court centres by taking longer cases on the circuit.  The trial was presided over by Mr Justice Jeremy Baker and lasted for just short of sixteen weeks.

On Monday, 28th February after more than 72-hours of deliberation, the Jury unanimously acquitted Javarnty Scott, Tau Randall, Darnelle Sappleton and a fourth man called Jamani Cunningham. 

Three men were convicted of Murder and of Conspiracy to Commit Grievous Bodily Harm.  A fourth was convicted of Manslaughter and of the conspiracy. His erstwhile girlfriend was convicted of Manslaughter.  They will all be sentenced at the end of March.

Read more in the below articles:

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-killers-face-life-jail-23244932

https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/three-men-convicted-murdering-coventry-23243382

 

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