'Blind' boy, 15, jailed for life over murder he 'didn't see' set to be released


A “blind” teenager convicted of murder after a dad-of-three was kicked to death is set to be released later this year.

Jordan Cunliffe, who insists he could not even see the attack in which Garry Newlove was murdered outside his home, has battled to clear his name for years.

Earlier this month, he lost an appeal at the High Court to quash both his conviction and sentence after judges found there was “ample evidence” he was party to the gang attack.

Now 27, the youngster from Warrington was just 16 when he was convicted under the laws of Joint Enterprise in a case which made headlines around the world.

Cunliffe and his family claim he was registered blind at the time of the brutal assault in August 2007 and “did not hear or see anything.”

Father-of-three Garry Newlove was kicked to death outside his home in Warrington in 2007


But he was found “guilty by association” at Chester Crown Court, of killing Mr Newlove who was “kicked like a football” after confronting youths over damage to his wife’s car.

The 47-year-old salesman was left unconscious in the street, having suffered massive head injuries, and died in hospital two days later.

Cunliffe’s mum Janet, who is a prominent JENGBA (Joint Enterprise, Guilty by Association) campaigner, has taken part in regular demonstrations outside courts in the North West over the case.

Joint enterprise allows the prosecution of members of a group or gang for murder when it cannot be proved which member of the group inflicted the fatal blow.

She told the Liverpool Echo : “Jordan came up to the scene as it ended. He was last coming up the street and didn’t even hear or see it. He has a wee in some bushes and hears a commotion.

(L-R) Stephen Sorton, Jordan Cunliffe and Adam Swellings (Pic:PA)
(L-R) Stephen Sorton, Jordan Cunliffe and Adam Swellings


“It’s only later when he realises one of his friends who has done it [the attack]. It was a single blow that killed Garry Newlove.

“At the time, Jordan was registered blind and needed transplant surgery in both eyes. He had less than 10% vision.

“It had got so bad that he couldn’t wear contact lenses and his only option was transplant surgery. It was 10.30pm so it would have been dark.

“One of the things about Jordan’s condition is that, if there’s street lighting, you don’t see that light, and it explodes like fireworks…it’s quite a chaotic picture.

“Jordan would have had to navigate through all of that. The chance of seeing individuals was impossible. He first heard someone crying, ‘Who’s done this?’

Jordan Cunliffe was convicted of the murder as being guilty by association, or'joint enterprise'
Jordan Cunnliffe


“He walked towards the voice and a woman, who we now know is Zoe, Garry’s 19-year-old daughter, who asks if he knows who has done this.

“He then bumps into police and gives them his name and address – if he’d just battered a man to death he wouldn’t have done that.”

Cunliffe was convicted of murder, and under Joint Enterprise laws he was sentenced to serve a minimum of 12 years behind bars.

He has almost completed that tariff, and is currently housed at a prison in the North West.

Barring the unexpected he will be freed after August, and is set to leave the region to begin his life on the outside.

He has since had transplant surgery in his left eye but has zero vision in his right.

On the night of the attack, Mr Newlove left his home, barefoot, to remonstrate with a gang who had smashed the window of a digger parked nearby.

Janet Cunliffe has always claimed son Jordan’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice and still campaigns to this day


His daughter Amy, who had been reading in her bedroom, had called him after looking out of her window and seeing a youth kicking her mother’s car.

Police initially arrested 25 youths in the aftermath of the killing – Cunliffe, Adam Swellings and Stephen Sorton who were given minimum terms of 17 and 15 years respectively.

50-year-old Janet believes Britain must alter legislation which sees children able to be handed life sentences, saying: “He doesn’t want to move back to Warrington, he wants to go and get on with life.

“There’s a couple of universities who have offered him a place. He wants to catch up with his lost youth.

“Jordan isn’t on his own. There’s 1,000 people in exactly the same [Joint Enterprise] position. A boy of 12 years old is the youngest person serving a life sentence in Britain.”

Garry Newlove's family (DM)
Garry Newlove’s family who say it is ‘painful’ to know the killers are soon to be released


But Garry Newlove’s widow, now Baroness Helen Newlove, has said it will be “painful” when Sorton and Cunliffe are released.

Since her husband’s death, she has since been made a Conservative peer and was appointed the Victims’ Commissioner by the government in 2012.

She has campaigned herself for a “victims law” giving families the right to be informed and to challenge decisions to release criminals.

Garry Newlove’s widow, now Baroness Helen Newlove, lobbied government to take action against gangs after his death.

She has since been made a Conservative peer and was appointed the Victims’ Commissioner by the government in 2012.

She has campaigned herself for a “victims law” giving families the right to be informed and to challenge decisions to release criminals.

Speaking in May last year  to the Mirror  ahead of the expected release of Cunliffe and Sorton, she said :“Release is a painful part of the victim journey. You know it must happen but it does not make it any easier. It’s just so painful.”

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