Our guide reveals Landmark Joint Enterprise Convictions, Complex Cases and Appeals


A number of the UK’s most notorious cases are amongst the many convictions that could be tested after a recent supreme court ruling regarding joint enterprise law.


In April 2015, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism submitted a number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to investigate joint enterprise. It found that over an 8-year timeframe, more than 4,500 people had been prosecuted under joint enterprise.


The 2016 Supreme Court Ruling


The Supreme Court declared that joint enterprise law has been ‘wrongly interpreted’


In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that joint enterprise law had been “wrongly interpreted by criminal trial judges over the past 30 years”, leading to a review of this area of law. Below, we take a look at some of the most prolific joint enterprise cases and convictions on record.


The history of joint enterprise – 1952 trial of Derek Bentley


One of the most notorious joint enterprise convictions was the 1952 trial of Derek Bentley.

Bentley (aged 18) and his friend Christopher Craig (aged 16) were charged with the burglary of a factory in Croydon, but were caught in the act.

Shots were fired by Craig who shot Sidney Miles (a policeman) dead. Both Bentley and Craig were convicted of the murder, but out of the two, only Bentley was sentenced to hang.

Although the shots were fired by Craig, interestingly he could not be hanged due to the fact that he was 16 at the time the incident took place.

According to the documentation surrounding the trial, Bentley was reported to have shouted to Craig “let him have it”, which was used by the prosecution as evidence of joint enterprise.


To this day, joint enterprise is used to convict the perpetrators of some of the most heinous crimes.


5 high-profile joint enterprise convictions


Stephen Lawrence

On the 22nd April 1993, Stephen Lawrence was murdered in an unprovoked attack in south-east London. Eighteen years later, both Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of the murder under joint enterprise.


Garry Newlove

Joint enterprise was used in the Garry Newlove murder case. Three teenagers were jailed for the attack which took place outside his house in Warrington.


PC Neil Doyle

Two men were found guilty and jailed for the joint enterprise murder of police officer, Neil Doyle, who was set upon outside a train station leading to fatal injuries.   


Shakilus Townsend

In 2008, 16-year-old Shakilus Townsend was stabbed to death by a gang in south London. He had been lured to the area by a girl and subsequently attacked by nine members of a well-known gang in the area. The leader of the gang was jailed for life alongside five other teenagers, under a joint enterprise conviction.


Zac Olumegbon

In 2011, five teenagers were jailed for the murder of Zac Olumegbon who was just 15 years old at the time. Olumegbon was stabbed on his way to school in south London. Convicted under joint enterprise, the jail sentences for the five teenagers amounted to more than 76 years.


What to do if you have been convicted of a crime under joint enterprise


If you have been convicted or charged under joint enterprise, it is best to appoint an expert criminal defence solicitor to represent you, such as the criminal defence team at Carter Moore. Your solicitor will be an expert in criminal law and will draw upon years of experience and knowledge.

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Our team of criminal defence solicitors have worked across a wide range of high profile criminal cases and can guarantee to provide the same quality representation for your own case.  

If you would like to know more about our criminal defence services, contact 0800 1 444 111 or email info@cmsolicitors.co.uk.