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Former Milwall footballer wins right to appeal Stonebridge murder conviction

PUBLISHED: 13:24 31 October 2014 | UPDATED: 13:38 31 October 2014

Gavin Grant has won the right to appeal his conviction

Gavin Grant has won the right to appeal his conviction

Archant

A professional footballer found guilty of shooting a man dead on the Stonebridge Estate has won the first step in a bid to have his conviction overturned.

Leon Labastide was shot dead in 2014Leon Labastide was shot dead in 2014

Former Millwall FC attacker, Gavin Grant, 30, was found guilty of blasting to death 21-year-old Leon Labastide outside his house in Mordaunt Road in May 2004.

The winger, who lived in Kenton at the time, and Gareth Damon Downie, 31, from Birmingham, were given life sentences for the murder at the Old Bailey in July, 2010.

Accomplice, Damian Martin Williams, 37, from Southwark, was also caged for life after he was convicted of conspiring to murder Mr Labastide.

But three senior judges at London’s Appeal Court today granted the trio permission to argue their convictions were unsafe, saying they have “concerns” about the trial.

Damian Martin Williams, 37, was convicted of conspiring to murder Mr LabastideDamian Martin Williams, 37, was convicted of conspiring to murder Mr Labastide

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said the trio were found guilty of Mr Labastide’s fatal shooting at a retrial after a previous jury had been unable to reach a verdict.

But the three men, who were given minimum jail terms of 25 years, continue to protest their innocence.

Applying to appeal for Grant today, Nigel Rumfitt QC argued that the men did not receive a fair trial as police failed to disclose information about its key witness. Material which has since come to light, Mr Rumfitt argued, “might well have swung the balance” when the jury came to consider the witness’ evidence.

The barrister said the three defendants had been left with “life-crushing sentences” after their “unsafe” convictions.

Gareth Downie was convicted of murderGareth Downie was convicted of murder

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said: “We do believe, therefore, that it is right in these circumstances, to give permission to appeal.”

The judge, sitting with Lady Justice Rafferty and Mrs Justice Patterson, also granted the men legal aid to fund their appeals, which will be heard at a later date.

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