THE gang jailed for killing a vulnerable woman on a disused railway line in Rugby have failed in the Court of Appeal to challenge their convictions.
Gemma Hayter, 27, was beaten and choked and her body stripped and dumped at a spot known locally as the old station in August 2010. Three people - Joe Samuel Boyer, 21, Chantelle Louise Franklin Booth, 24, and Daniel Kenneth Newstead, 22 - were given life sentences for the murder. Two more - Jessica Lynas, 20, and Duncan Edwards, then 19 - received 13-year terms, having been convicted of manslaughter at Warwick Crown Court in July last year.
Boyer, Booth, Newstead and Lynas today tried to overturn their convictions at the Court of Appeal in London, 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.
“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 Hayter 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, went with Miss Hayter 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 today 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.