R v Armel Gnango [2011]

R v Armel Gnango [2011]

R v Armel Gnango [2011] UKSC 59 revolved around the application of joint enterprise rules in this complex scenario. The defendant was actively engaged in attempting to harm or murder someone (Bandana Man), and the question was whether joint enterprise could be applied, making the defendant equally guilty of Ms Pniewska's murder. The interaction between joint enterprise and transferred malice was a key consideration.

On October 2, 2007, a shootout occurred in southeast London, resulting in the death of Magda Pniewska, a 26-year-old Polish care worker caught in the crossfire. Armel Gnango, along with another individual referred to as Bandana Man, engaged in the gunfight over a debt dispute. Scientific examination revealed that Bandana Man, not Gnango, fired the fatal shot.

Gnango was charged with attempted murder, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, and the murder of Pniewska. Despite not firing the fatal shot, he was convicted of Pniewska's murder under joint enterprise and transferred malice doctrines.

Gnango appealed his murder conviction, and the Court of Appeal quashed it in 2010. The court ruled that the jury was not properly directed on the shared common purpose and the need to consider whether both parties intended not only to shoot but also to be shot at.

The case reached the Supreme Court, where a 6-1 majority allowed the Crown's appeal and restored Gnango's murder conviction. The court held that Gnango was guilty of murder under joint enterprise and transferred malice, even though he did not fire the fatal shot. The court rejected the notion of treating the intention to have an affray as separate from the intention to have a potentially homicidal shooting match.

The decision faced criticism for its potential alignment with public opinion and its impact on the law of joint enterprise. Some argued that the court's reasoning was uncomfortable, and the outcome might not align with established legal principles. The case raised concerns about the complexities of joint enterprise law and the potential implications for similar cases in the future.

Following the Supreme Court's decision, Gnango's sentence of detention for life with a minimum term of twenty years for murder was restored by the Court of Appeal. The Law Commission noted that the case highlighted difficulties in joint enterprise cases and emphasised the need for legislative reform.

In summary, the case explored complex issues related to joint enterprise, transferred malice, and the shared common purpose in the context of a fatal shooting involving two parties. The Supreme Court's decision reinstated Gnango's murder conviction, sparking discussions about the challenges and potential reforms in the law of joint enterprise.
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