A JURY has been told to decide whether each of five defendants was involved in the attack which led to vulnerable Gemma Hayter’s death – and if so, whether their involvement was murder or manslaughter.
Summing up as the trial of the five at Warwick Crown Court moved into its seventh week, Lady Justice Anne Rafferty DBE warned the jury to ‘put aside sympathy’ for Gemma.
Duncan Edwards, 19, of Ashwood Court, Rounds Gardens, Rugby, and two couples, Chantelle Booth, 22, and Daniel Newstead, 20, and Jessica Lynas, 19, and Joe Boyer, 18, all of Old Works Court, Little Pennington Street, Rugby, have pleaded not guilty to murdering 27-year-old Gemma.
They also deny earlier assaulting Gemma, whose battered body was found on a disused railway line off Hillmorton Road early on Monday August 9, in Booth and Newstead’s flat.
Booth, Newstead and Boyer all blamed Edwards for the violence both in the flat and on the old railway line, as did Lynas, who did not give evidence, in her police interview.
But Edwards has told the jury Newstead was responsible for killing Gemma, and Newstead and Booth for the earlier attack.
Lady Justice Rafferty told the jury: “What we need from you in this case is dispassion. Put aside sympathy.
“The burden of proving it stops all the time on the Crown’s side of the court. The defendants do not have to do anything to prove they are not guilty. You can only convict if you are sure of their guilt.
“You are entitled to draw inferences from the evidence, but you must not speculate, and when you come to consider the evidence of the four defendants who went into the witness box do not discriminate against them because they came from the dock.”
She said they jury had to decide the case for and against each defendant on each count separately even though the prosecution puts its case on the basis that the assault and the killing were joint enterprises involving all five.
“If you are sure Gemma Hayter sustained injuries in the flat you ask, in the case of each defendant, are you sure that each defendant was part of a joint enterprise to harm her. The Crown does not have to prove any individual act by any of them.”
And of Gemma’s killing, Lady Justice Raffery explained: “Murder: if someone intends to kill or cause serious bodily harm and the person dies.
“Intention: look at what any individual does and says before and at the time and after the relevant acts.
“Everyone accepts there was a homicide on the railway line. Homicide includes murder and manslaughter.
“If you are sure there was a joint enterprise, a plan, on the part of some or all, and that such a plan put into action caused Gemma’s death, then the Crown will have proved homicide.
“Plan and agreement do not require formality. It can be inferred by the behaviour of the parties.
“The crown’s case is that these five committed these offences together. Where a crime is committed by two or more, each may play a different part, but if they are in it together, they are each guilty.
“Each defendant denies violence, and each defendant blames another or others. The Crown has to make you sure that he or she is not telling you the truth. If she or he may be telling the truth, they are not guilty.
“It is not an offence merely to be present when a crime is committed, nor to merely stand by and do nothing to prevent it.
“But if you are sure the defendant whose case you are considering played some part, great or small, he or she may be convicted even if he or she did not land any blow on Gemma.”
Lady Justice Raffery told the jury to follow certain steps in reaching verdicts on the murder charge.
“In the case of each defendant, you ask, ‘has the Crown made me sure that whichever defendant, with others, took part in a joint attack which led to Gemma’s death?’
“No? That defendant is not guilty of murder and your task is ended.
“Yes? Ask yourself, ‘has the Crown made me sure that whichever defendant had the intention to at least cause Gemma really serious harm?’
“If they have, guilty of murder. If they have not, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.”
Of the fact that Lynas did not give evidence, she said: “She has a perfect right not to give evidence. You cannot jump to the conclusion that her silence proves the case against her.
“But her decision not to give evidence may, depending on your view, add weight to the prosecution evidence.
“It is open to you to conclude the reason she has remained silent is because she has no answer to the prosecution case – or none that could stand up to examination.”
The trial continues.