BBC DRAMA “COMMON” MISLEADING

Jimmy McGovern’s play last night, if it was meant to be a true representation of joint enterprise, was misleading.

Firstly, JoJo, the 17 year old, had a complete defence in that he wasn’t part of any agreement at all to injure anyone, let alone stab someone. No barrister worth his salt would have advised him to plead guilty to some sort of lesser charge, which would have been totally contrary to his instructions.

Secondly,the issue of whether somebody is part of a joint enterprise to commit a crime is one for the jury, not the judge. At the half way stage of the trial, the judge may, and only then, be asked to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to go before a jury, but that’s as far as he will go.

Lastly, there appears to have been kind of “carve up”, which involved both the prosecution and defence and, by implication the judge too.This resulted in one of the defendants pleading guilty to murder and the others to lesser charges with what appeared to be predetermined sentences.In my experience, this would never happen in an English court and reflects the sort of plea bargaining which takes place in America.

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