Client Found Not Guilty in the ‘Boscombe Body Parts’ Murder Trial Image
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Client Found Not Guilty in the ‘Boscombe Body Parts’ Murder Trial

Hill Twine Solicitors’ client, DP, was acquitted of murder after a 6-week trial at Winchester Crown Court. The prosecution sought to prove that she acted jointly with her co-defendant to murder, dismember, and dispose of the body parts of a local man, SS. The jury found our client, DP, not guilty of murder; the co-defendant was found guilty of murder (he was not represented by Hill Twine Solicitors).

What Was This Case About?

On Wednesday 22 May 2024, a Winchester Crown Court jury rejected the Crown’s case that our client, DP, was involved in the murder of SS.  She was found not guilty of murder, whilst her co-defendant (not represented by Hill Twine Solicitors) was found guilty.  DP awaits sentence for offences of perverting the course of justice and preventing the burial of a corpse.

The facts of this case make for difficult reading.  Throughout the trial the case was covered extensively by the media, both national and local.  Outlets such as Sky News and the Daily Mail highlighted the more grisly and distressing details, focusing on features such as the discovery of body parts close to the beach and the co-defendant boasting of eating the victim. The Bournemouth Echo had a live feed of the entire trial.

Our Juliet Osborne had conduct of the case and sensitively established a rapport with DP, meeting with her regularly and taking detailed instructions on the Crown’s case as it developed.

The case was covered extensively by the media, both national and local, with outlets focusing on the more grisly and distressing details

The complexity and gravity of the case necessitated the involvement of King’s Counsel: Juliet instructed Ignatius Hughes KC, alongside Tom Wright as junior counsel.  As a result of Juliet’s meticulous preparation and in-depth knowledge of the case, she was able to support the barristers extensively, ensuring they were fully instructed on the issues in the case.

Whilst DP’s co-defendant admitted responsibility for the killing of SS at an early stage of the proceedings, he did not accept that he had murdered the victim.  The prosecution’s case, was that the co-defendant had murdered SS and that our client, DP was also guilty of murder under a legal principle called ‘joint enterprise’. DP was clear from the outset that she played no role in the death of SS. At trial, the Crown sought to prove that DP was a ‘joint participant’, encouraging or assisting her co-defendant in the commission of the fatal act. 

What is Joint Enterprise?

The legal principles of joint participation/joint enterprise are not straightforward.  Even the senior courts grapples with the doctrine.  The ‘Debate Day’ pack produced by the Supreme Court contains some interesting and thought-provoking insights on the subject.

The law states that Person B may be guilty of a crime even if the crime is actually carried out by Person A. If Person B intentionally does an act that assists or encourages Person A to commit a crime, and intends that the crime should be committed, then Person B is guilty of the crime, even if Person A actually carries it out. For example, the lookout person in a burglary. 

In DP’s case, there were three aspects the prosecution had to prove:

  1. That DP had intentionally done something: some act or conduct;
  2. That DP intended the act or conduct to assist or encourage the offence to be committed; 
  3. That DP had the intention that the offence be committed by her co-defendant. 

The prosecution case was that DP (i.e. Person B) and her co-defendant acted as a team in the killing of SS. That they were in it together and shared the intention to commit the offence; both took some part, whether great or small, to achieve that aim. The Crown argued that the jury could be sure that DP was guilty because of the way they worked ‘hand in glove’ as a team before and after the event, and from circumstantial evidence. 

Mr Hughes KC highlighted to the jury the lack of clarity in the Crown’s case

Mr Hughes KC highlighted to the jury the lack of clarity in the Crown’s case, pointing out that the Crown had been unable to pinpoint any specific act of encouragement or assistance which would prove DP’s guilt, let alone any intention to assist or encourage her co-defendant. Presence at the scene, by itself, was not sufficient, nor was a failure to intervene and prevent the fatal assault. The jury were also reminded that DP’s known actions before and after the killing of SS were not capable of proving any involvement in the act itself.

Other Trial Issues

Other issues arose during the trial. In particular, before Hill Twine Solicitors was instructed on the case, DP had already been interviewed twice by police when she was represented by a different firm. Across the two interviews she gave different accounts.  This inconsistency was a defining feature in the prosecution’s case against her. DP’s changing accounts were repeatedly pointed to by the Crown as evidence supporting guilt of the charge of murder. 

At trial, DP accepted that she had not been truthful previously. Her evidence to the jury was that the reason she lied was because she was confused and frightened, not because she was guilty of murder. The law states that a person cannot be convicted solely or mainly on the basis that they have told lies. 

Through meeting regularly with DP, and developing a strong, trusting client relationship, Juliet Osborne gained an in-depth understanding of DP’s life history and personality. Mr Hughes KC asked the jury to try to understand who DP was, and explored her background throughout the trial, developing a theme, and seeking to explain the lies told by DP previously. The ‘not guilty’ verdict for DP, suggests the jury found her explanation more convincing than the assertion by the prosecution that she lied purely because she was guilty of murder. 

Why Instruct Hill Twine Solicitors?

Here at Hill Twine Solicitors we are very proud of the way this case was defended, and of the work of Juliet Osborne in particular.  In occasionally difficult circumstances, made more challenging by the nature of the case, her dedication and attention to detail ensured our client was provided with a service of the highest quality and the best defence representation.  She assisted Counsel to robustly defend our client at trial and received wonderful feedback from the barristers.

If you have any questions or need advice