“We will spend our lives fighting for our children”: Parents of Jack Woodley’s teen killers claim their sons are innocent

The parents of nine young teenagers convicted of killing Jack Woodley say they will fight to prove their sons are innocent.

Ten youths, aged between 15 and 18, were handed life sentences at Newcastle Crown Court last week after a jury found them all guilty of murdering Jack, in Houghton-le-Spring last year.

The court heard how the 18-year-old victim was surrounded by the violent mob who went on to kick punch and stamp on him before he was knifed in the back.

Read more: Jack Woodley stabbing: Nine teens submit appeals against murder convictions

One teen, aged 15, admitted delivering the fatal blow.

But all 10, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were convicted of murder how the prosecution told how they worked together to isolate and attack Jack, who was from Newton Aycliffe.

Jack Woodley

The Chronicle revealed last week how nine of the teens had submitted appeals against their convictions.

And their families have come together to tell of their despair at the verdicts.

In a statement they said they would fight to clear their children’s names for the rest of their lives.

Police presence outside Newcastle Crown Court as Jack Woodley’s killers are sentenced

They said: “We are the families of the nine young children who have been convicted of the joint enterprise murder of Jack Woodley.

“All of us are incredibly mindful of the life that was lost that night, but all of us know that none of our children intended that Jack die, let alone inflict the fatal blow.

“None of our children have criminal records. None of them carry knives, and they did not carry a knife the night that Jack Woodley was fatally stabbed.

Jack Woodley, who died after an alleged stabbing in Houghton-le-Spring
Jack Woodley, who was murdered in Houghton-le-Spring

“Our children have been given life sentences for a murder they did not commit. We will spend the rest of our lives fighting for our children, and our children will spend the rest of their lives maintaining their innocence.

“The courts replaced one tragedy with another.”

Having been convicted of murder all the teens were handed mandatory life sentences, on Friday.

Flowers and heartbreaking messages outside The Britannia Pub in Houghton-le-Spring where 18-year-old Jack Woodley was murdered

However, Judge Rodney Jameson determined that the young killers should serve difference minimum terms inside.

The youth found to have used the knife was told he must serve 17 years before he can be considered for parole.

While the other nine were given minimum tariffs ranging from eight to 15 years.

Flowers and heartbreaking messages outside The Britannia Pub in Houghton-le-Spring where 18-year-old Jack Woodley was murdered

At the start of the case Judge Jameson placed reporting restrictions on the case banning the identity of all 10 defendants from being published.

And their families have now claimed this has prevented the public from knowing the “true reality” of what happened on the night Jack was killed.

“We, like the rest of the public, are deeply saddened by Jack’s death,” they said.

“We feel that if the public wants to be angry about the loss of a young man’s life, they are justified. However, anger also needs to be directed towards the fact that ten people were convicted and out of those ten only one person killed Jack Woodley, only one person carried a knife; only one person got themselves involved with serious violence against Jack.

“It’s time the public knew what really happened but because of the restrictions put in place by the judge, there’s a real possibility that the public may never know the true reality of what happened that night, our children have been silenced and now they face complete injustice.”

However, the detective who led the murder investigation said that had the teens not worked together to attack Jack he might not have been stabbed.

Det Insp Joanne Brooks of Northumbria Police

Det Chief Insp Joanne Brooks, of Northumbria Police, said: “Each one of those children chose to go in with their friends, with their associates, and attack Jack so they worked together and if they hadn’t done that would Jack have been stabbed ?Would the opportunity to stab him have come along? They worked together and they knew there was a knife.

“There was definite knowledge, so they were working together, they knew what each other were doing, they knew there were weapons in there and they chose, in that instant, they chose to go and get involved together and to create an opportunity where Jack had no chance”

The case is thought to have been one of the first times as many as 10 defendants have been found guilty of one murder.

JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association), a group which campaigns on behalf of those convicted under the controversial Joint Enterprise law, is supporting the families of the defendants.

Jan Cunliffe from the group said: “This case is quite unique, to have all 10 convicted of murder when there was only one carrying a knife. To the best of my knowledge that hasn’t happened. And they are all such a young age .”

And the families added: “We never thought this could happen, that children who don’t commit murder themselves could be convicted of murder. Why do nine children have to serve life sentences for a murder they did not commit – this is not justice. “

“Joint Enterprise is a bad law that continues to ruin the lives of the innocent.”

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