THE family of a murdered Rugby woman are ‘shocked’ after four of her killers tried to appeal against their convictions.
Four of the gang who were jailed for the sickening killing of vulnerable Gemma Hayter failed in their Court of Appeal challenges.
Gemma’s sister Nikki Reid said: “I was shocked that they appealed against their conviction but not surprised that they tried getting their sentences reduced. I hope now we won’t have to hear their names mentioned again for a very long time.”
Gemma, 27, was led to a disused railway line in Hillmorton by the gang - who she thought were her friends. She was badly beaten, stabbed, suffocated and stripped naked. Her body was found the next morning in August 2010.
At the Old Bailey in London in September last year, Joe Boyer, 21, Chantelle Booth, 24, and Daniel Newstead, 22, were all given life sentences for the murder. Jessica Lynas, 20, and Duncan Edwards, then 19, received 13 and 15-year terms respectively, having been convicted of manslaughter at Warwick Crown Court in July last year.
Boyer, Booth, Newstead and Lynas tried to overturn their convictions at the Court of Appeal in London on Friday, but saw their cases rejected by top judges.
Booth and Newstead also challenged their 21 and 20-year minimum terms and Lynas her 13-year sentence, but all also lost their appeal cases. Edwards was the only one not to appeal.
“These were bestial crimes which we have not really the language to describe properly,” said Lord Justice Laws, who heard their cases with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice Males.
The court heard all four lived in the same block of flats in Little Pennington Street, Rugby. Boyer and Lynas were a couple, as were Booth and Newstead.
Gemma, who lived in Biart Place, had learning difficulties and had gone to a special school, but was treated “like a toy” by Booth, said the appeal judge.
On the night of August 8, all five killers, including Edwards, led Gemma to the disused railway line, where she was brutally attacked.
A bag was put over her head to suffocate her and she eventually died when she choked on her blood. Her body was stripped and the clothes burned.
After their arrest, the defendants gave wildly differing accounts of what happened, some running “cut-throat” defences blaming others for the killing.
Booth and Newstead both complained in their appeal of a direction given by the trial judge to the jury about the credibility of their evidence.
Boyer, who was not represented, argued in writing that his conviction for murder was inconsistent with the acquittal of Edwards, and subsequent conviction for manslaughter.
Lawyers representing Lynas argued that psychological evidence not admitted at the trial might have given a different explanation of her behaviour and affected the way the jury saw her.
Rejecting the arguments, Lord Justice Laws added: “There is nothing in these applications for leave to appeal against conviction and they are refused.”
He said the minimum jail terms to be served by Booth and Newstead and the 13-year sentence imposed on Lynas were fully deserved.
After the gang were sentenced last year, Gemma’s mum Susan Prince said they had acted ‘like a pack of animals’ and felt they needed to be taken out of society.
In November last year a Serious Case Review into Gemma’s death was published, concluding that her murder could not have been predicted or prevented but agencies missed many opportunities to intervene.
At the time sister Nikki said: “She was our sister and we could not save her. Every time something happened we would pick her up. But we couldn’t pick her up from this.”