The grieving mother of a teenager brutally murdered by ten boys has said they can ‘rot behind bars’ after senior judges threw out a bid to quash their convictions.
Seven of Jack Woodley’s killers can be now named following a legal challenge by the Northern Echo at the Court of Appeal in London.
The 18-year-old died after he was savagely beaten and fatally stabbed by the gang as he left the Houghton Feast in October 2021.
Jack’s mother, Zoey McGill, from Newton Aycliffe, posting on Facebook, wrote: “Over the moon. All ten have failed and will continue to rot behind bars where they rightly belong.
“Justice for our boy finally served.”
During the trial at Newcastle Crown Court last year jurors were told Blaine Sewell, now 17, started the fight with Jack Woodley as he left the funfair before Sonny Smith, 17, then began punching him.
Grant Wheatley now 19, threw punches during the frenzy of violence involving kicks and stamps with Leighton Mayo and Joe Lathan, now 17, and Clayton Owen, 19.
Three boys who were 14 at the time and cannot be named were also involved but it was the then 15-year-old Calum Maddison who delivered the fatal stab wound with ‘Rambo-style’ survival knife.
He had recently moved to the North East from London where he had been involved in gangs and told his new friends he had stabbed two people.
All ten were charged with murder under controversial joint enterprise law and were deemed to be equally responsible.
Following the case, The Northern Echo launched an anti-knife crime campaign and formed the North East Knife Crime Taskforce to raise awareness of the issue.
In our legal submission to the Court of Appeal the newspaper said: “We respectfully submit that the public interest in the open reporting of crime is overwhelmingly powerful in this particular case.
“The epidemic of knife crime among young people across the United Kingdom has caused public alarm and calls for action at the highest levels.
“We submit the public are entitled to know in full what has happened in this case.
“And they are entitled to know not only that justice has been done, but that it has been seen to be done as a deterrence to others who may be drawn to knives and gang culture.
“Those who consider committing serious crime must know that they will be held to account in their own name.
“The gravity of the crime alone gives sufficient reason to withdraw the reporting restriction upon conviction.”
Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr Justice Foxton and Sir Nigel Davis, agreed to lift the restrictions of seven of the ten killers, while protecting the identities of those still aged 16.
In their judgement they said: "We have concluded that, with three exceptions, the strong public interest in open justice outweighs the arguments in favour of continuing, for what would only be a comparatively short period of time, the orders previously made.”