Killer duo win right to contest conviction

Jonathan Fitchett
Jonathan Fitchett

Two men jailed for life for the murder of Jonathan Fitchett have won the right to challenge their verdicts in court.

Last December, Gerard Childs, 28, of Rainhill, and Stephen Price, 29, of Prescot, were both convicted of killing Mr Fitchett in a savage attack at Cables Retail Park in Prescot.

The victim, 22, suffered serious head injuries in the July 11, 2013, attack and sadly died the following day after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

But, in a new twist, Childs and Price’s lawyers argued at London’s Appeals Court last week that jurors could not have been sure that both men intended to kill Mr Fitchett when the fatal blow was landed.

The duo were convicted on the basis of “joint enterprise” - the legal principle that everyone knowingly involved in a crime is equally responsible for the outcome.

Using this principle, the jury’s verdict deemed Childs and Price both guilty of murder, even if it was uncertain which man delivered the fatal blow.

During the trial, Liverpool Crown Court had heard how an argument had broken out between the duo and Mr Fitchett outside JD Sports.

A number of witnesses subsequently came forward to confirm they had seen Childs, of King Edward Road, and Price, of Hayes Avenue, inflict a violent and sustained attack on Mr Fitchett.

Mr Justice Irwin ruled last week that the defence’s new case was “arguable” and that they could therefore challenge the verdicts.

The judge could not predict the outcome of an appeal, however, and cautioned the imprisoned men’s families against raising their hopes.

No date has yet been set for the appeals.