Radio Sandwell Local News

Man jailed for riots shooting attack in appeal campaign

2013-03-10 18:26:49

Wayne Collins

A man jailed for 18 years for being part of a gang which shot at the police during riots in Birmingham is appealing against his conviction and sentence.

Wayne Collins, 25, of Luton, Bedfordshire, was arrested following an armed ambush on officers, and an attack on the police helicopter, at the Barton Arms in Newtown on August 9, 2011.

He was found guilty of rioting, possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, and reckless arson by a jury's majority verdict of ten to one at Birmingham Crown Court in June last year.

Now, he has applied to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence.

His aunt, Deborah Taylor, is leading a campaign to prove Collins' innocence.

She claims that her nephew was wrongly convicted under controversial joint enterprise laws, where suspects are found guilty of a violent crime if they have encouraged the main perpetrator.

Deborah said that Collins, a barber, gave no such encouragement to armed rioters and was an innocent bystander who was coincidentally present during the disorder.

Wayne Collins

She has collected nearly 8,000 signatures on a petition of support.

Collins' campaign to clear his name is being backed by Luton North Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, who says he will present Deborah's petition to Parliament when it reaches 10,000 signatures.

Campaign group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA) is also supporting his case.

Collins is being represented by Birnberg Peirce & Partners, the legal firm which won the appeals for the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four.

The violence at the Barton Arms was one of the most serious incidents of the summer disorder.

More than 40 rioters armed with guns and petrol bombs set fire to the pub while staff were inside, in an attempt to lure police to the scene.

Ballistics experts believe that at least a dozen shots were fired from four or more handguns, some narrowly missing officers.

The court heard that Collins had travelled from Luton to Birmingham and stayed in the city to take part in the attack on the police.

His family and supporters claim he was in the Barton Arms with a friend and did not know the rioters who began smashing up the bar around them. They say he ran, like everyone else, when shots were fired - and was convicted because of his presence at the scene of the crime, and association with two co-defendants, one of whom was found guilty of shooting.

He had been with one of the gunmen during the day, and his mobile was tracked to the same location as the gunman's phone. It was inferred that he would have known the man had a gun, and planned to use it.

Wayne Collins

Deborah said: "t is soul destroying to see Wayne jailed for so long. His life has been destroyed, and he has done nothing wrong.

"e regularly travelled to Birmingham because he has cousins there and his uncle lives in Wolverhampton. He did not know his co-defendants well. He met one on holiday in Ayia Napa. He wasn' close friends with him.

" sat through the trial and I could not believe it when I heard he was being sentenced to 18 years, just because they had associated him with these people. Killers get less than that.

"t is a huge injustice. We are a large, close-knit family and Wayne has never been in a gang. We will continue to fight this until we clear his name.

"he whole legal system needs to be looked at. Wayne is not the only person who has been wrong treated under joint enterprise."/P>

Nigel Leskin, of Birnberg Peirce & Partners, said: "he judge clearly stated that Wayne Collins 'layed no active role in events at the Barton Arms' yet he sentenced him to 18 years, which is excessive."/P>

A spokeswoman for campaigners JENGbA said: "We are currently supporting 370 people who have been convicted under this doctrine, including Wayne Collins, whose sentence is too long. He did not kill anyone.

"People are not aware how often joint enterprise is used to convict prisoners. The prison population has doubled over the last 15 years due to its use."

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