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Trio jailed for Leon Labastide murder in Stonebridge lose appeal against convictions

PUBLISHED: 16:02 24 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:03 24 November 2015

Left to right: Gavin Grant,  Gareth Downie and Damian Martin Williams

Left to right: Gavin Grant, Gareth Downie and Damian Martin Williams

Archant

Three men, including a professional footballer, who were jailed for murdering a 21-year-old in Stonebridge have lost an appeal against their convictions.

Leon Labastide was shot dead in 2004Leon Labastide was shot dead in 2004

Gavin Grant, 31, a former striker who played for Millwall, Wycombe Wanderers and Bradford City, Damian Martin Williams, 38, and 32-year-old Gareth Downie were all convicted for their role in the death of Leon Labastide.

The 21-year-old was shot dead on his doorstep in Mordaunt Road in June 2004.

Grant and Downie were found guilty of murder and Williams was convicted of conspiracy to murder at the Old Bailey in July 2010.

All three were sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 25 years each.

Last week at London’s Criminal Appeal Court their lawyers challenged their convictions arguing they were ‘unsafe’.

They claimed that two officers involved in the case acted in ‘bad faith’ because they didn’t tell trial lawyers that the key witness, a woman referred to by the fictional name Susan Norwich, had been offered a deal for a lesser sentence on drugs charges she faced.

But, dismissing the appeal, Lady Justice Macur said that, although the officers’ conduct could be described as ‘impropriety’ the safety of the trio’s convictions were not undermined.

Sitting with Mr Justice Cooke and Judge Joanna Cutts QC, Lady Justice Macur added: “The misbehaviour of the police officers may well have created a distraction.

“But we are not properly satisfied that a conscientious jury, properly directed, would have been left in doubt as to Susan Norwich’s credibility by explicit reference to the ‘text’ or the circumstances existing when she gave evidence and the possibility of police assistance in relation to a sentence for her drugs offending.

“The broad consistency of her evidence at the first trial and the retrial remained entirely compelling.

“Consequently, these appeals against conviction are dismissed.”

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