Kevin Nunes was shot five times and then beaten so badly that the injuries from the beating would most likely have killed him. This happened on the evening of 19th September 2002. Eventually five men were convicted of the murder and were given sentences totalling 135 years. These are practically the only solid facts in the case.
The defence’s case rests on evidence of one person, Simeon Taylor. This passage from Court of Appeal decision summarises the original case against Adam Joof, Antonio Christie, Michael Osbourne, Owen Crooks and Levi Walker:
Mr Whittam sets out in his Note to the Court a summary of the allegations against the appellants:
“Kevin Nunes was murdered on the evening of 19 September 2002 at Pattingham, just outside Wolverhampton. He was a drug dealer. He trusted few people. One person he did trust was Owen Crooks.
The appellants were members of two separate gangs; Owen Crooks and Michael Osbourne were members of the Heath Town Gang, also known as the Uken Demolition Crew or UDC. Adam Joof, Antonio Christie and Levi Walker were members of the Raiders. Those two gangs joined forces to eliminate Kevin Nunes because he was dealing in drugs in competition with them.
On the day of the murder Adam Joof and Antonio Christie had been released from custody. They had faced allegations of kidnap and rape made against them by Jodie Pitt, a former girlfriend of Adam Joof. She had withdrawn her allegations after a campaign of intimidation.
Adam Joof and Antonio Christie were seen gathering with others at Levi Walker’s address. Jodie Pitt was staying at Hopeton Falconer’s address which was opposite. She saw what was happening. Adam Joof and Antonio Christie left.
Owen Crooks, under the direction of Michael Osbourne with whom he was in telephone contact, lured Kevin Nunes into a car. He was taken to the Fox Inn, where he was handed over to Adam Joof and Antonio Christie. Levi Walker had driven Antonio Christie to the Fox Inn.
Kevin Nunes was taken at gunpoint by Adam Joof and Antonio Christie in a car driven by Simeon Taylor to a remote spot. Levi Walker followed in the car he had used to drive Antonio Christie to the Fox Inn.
Adam Joof and Antonio Christie shot Kevin Nunes repeatedly with two firearms. He was then attacked with sufficient severity to have been likely to have killed him without having been shot. Antonio Christie then sought to get Simeon Taylor to inflict further injury on Kevin Nunes as a test of loyalty. Adam Joof said that was not necessary. Simeon Taylor drove Adam Joof away; Levi Walker drove Antonio Christie.
The firearms were given to Hopeton Falconer later that evening.
Save for the recovery of Michael Osbourne’s DNA profile on a SIM card found in a phone that was taken from Kevin Nunes, there was no relevant scientific evidence.
Michael Osbourne later made a ‘cell confession’ to Garfield McLean. The evidence was that he confessed to shooting Kevin Nunes. It was not the prosecution case that Michael Osbourne had been present or shot Kevin Nunes. The prosecution relied on that admission as indicative of his complicity in the murder, supported by the phone calls to Crooks and the DNA evidence in relation to the phone. It was asserted that the confession to shooting was simply an example of someone ‘bigging up’ their role in an attempt to gain respect amongst fellow criminals.
Adam Joof, Antonio Christie and Levi Walker all denied that they were present at the Fox Inn or the scene of the murder. Owen Crooks accepted that he was at the Fox Inn, but he did not know that the events would lead to the death of Kevin Nunes. Michael Osbourne denied that he was involved in the murder.”
The problems with using Simeon Taylor as a prosecution witness are clear and obvious:
- Taylor was the only witness to what happened; there is no independent corroboration
- If Taylor knew what was going to happen to Nunes, he was party to the same joint enterprise charge that the other five men faced
- By driving Joof away from the scene, he’s assisting an offender
- Taylor was apparently not given immunity but his actions were materially the same as Levi Walker’s; Taylor was treated as a star witness, whereas Walker received 27 years in prison for playing the same role in the crime
The five men have now all had their convictions quashed (see Joof & Ors v R  EWCA Crim 1475 (04 July 2012)) but the investigation into the actions of the police themselves seems to have stalled whilst a large enough rug to brush it under is found.
For more details, see also the links below. They are presented oldest first, and are sufficient to summarise the way the case has progressed.
Police chiefs investigated for misconduct over gangland killing case (22nd December 2011)
Four police chiefs, including the national lead on ethics in policing, have been placed under criminal investigation over allegations of misconduct, the Guardian has learned. Formal notices of investigation were served on the senior officers, who are in positions of command at three different forces, earlier this month.
Court of appeal quashes convictions of five men for Kevin Nunes murder (8th March 2012)
The prosecution case was left so flawed after revelations about disclosure that the Crown Prosecution Service did not oppose the convictions being overturned in court on Thursday, nor did they seek a retrial of the five men. A spokesperson for the IPCC confirmed its investigation into the police chiefs and other officers involved in the original investigation were still ongoing. The four chiefs under investigation are the national lead on ethics in policing, Adrian Lee, who is now the chief constable of Northamptonshire; Suzette Davenport, the deputy chief constable of Northamptonshire; Jane Sawyers, assistant chief constable with the Staffordshire force; and Marcus Beale, assistant chief constable with West Midlands police.
The IPCC provides Crown Prosecution Service with a file of evidence following an investigation into former and serving Staffordshire Police officers (20th September 2013)
A file of evidence has been passed to the CPS in relation to five officers up to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector who were part of the Staffordshire Police Sensitive Policing Unit, which had responsibility for handling protected witnesses. Three of the five officers are retired from Staffordshire Police.
Police officers in Nunes murder case will not face prosecution (24th January 2014)
The Crown Prosecution Service said today it had investigated allegations that those dealing with witness Simeon Taylor and his immediate supervisors had perverted the course of justice by failing to record and report that he had potentially stolen money, thus presenting him in a better light. But they said there was not enough evidence to prosecute five of the officers, three of whom are now retired from Staffordshire Police.
PCC statement on Operation Kalmia (18th March 2015)
Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis said: “I have now written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to say that I consider that Temporary Chief Constable, Mrs Jane Sawyers, has no case to answer on misconduct or gross misconduct in relation to the “Operation Kalmia” inquiry into matters relating to the investigation and trial of five men for the murder of Kevin Nunes in 2002.”
CPS decide no criminal charges should be brought following investigation into police actions in relation to the Kevin Nunes murder trial (19th November 2014)
The CPS has determined there is insufficient evidence to prosecute any of the nine police officers, four remain in service while five are now retired, investigated either for attempting or conspiring to pervert the course of public justice or for criminal misconduct in a public office.
Will we ever know the truth over murder of Kevin Nunes? (19th March 2015)
In 2007, a damning 73-page report, known as the Costello Report, was produced many months before the murder trial but kept secret. Had it been disclosed, the defendants’ legal team would have known that Inspector Anderson was in a position to give evidence which would have seriously undermined both the credibility of Simeon Taylor and the integrity and the honesty of the system put in place to handle him.
With the report the defence could have shown that the Sensitive Police Unit was a dysfunctional organisation fractured by in-fighting, containing officers whose honesty and integrity were open to question and whose documentation in respect of Simeon Taylor could not be trusted. It has also emerged that a detective handling Taylor was involved in an ‘intimate’ affair with a disclosure officer involved in the case and that the pair used to meet where Taylor was being housed. It raises serious concerns over whether information relating to evidence in the case was contaminated and passed on to Taylor.
Operation Kalmia: Report of the Ethics, Transparency and Audit Panel (9th April 2015)
We are satisfied that the Police and Crime Commissioner looked at all the available evidence, was rigorous in his approach and was mindful of the need for transparency and openness; and in this way demonstrated his commitment to the Policing Code of Ethics. We believe that the process followed was fair and objective. We support the decision not to allow budgetary constraints to influence the decision to obtain top quality advice in respect of these matters.
Kevin Nunes: Top police officer not yet in the clear (30th July 2015)
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has recommended that Staffordshire Chief Constable Jane Sawyers face two counts of misconduct, the Star understands. This is despite Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis ruling that she has no case to answer over the investigation into the gangland killing.
Chief constable may still face misconduct hearing over failures in murder inquiry (4th August 2015)
Two chief constables and the head of a counter terrorism unit are among six serving officers who may still face internal police disciplinary action into a botched investigation of a murder 13 years ago. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has recommended that newly-appointed Staffordshire Chief Constable Jane Sawyers faces two counts of misconduct following its own four-year inquiry.
New delay to report on botched Kevin Nunes murder case (4th January 2016)
The Independent Police Complaints Commission completed its final report into the investigation of the murder of Kevin Nunes a year ago but is yet to publish it. And there doesn’t appear to be a publication date in sight after a letter to South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson revealed that it was being delayed again because of “a number of civil actions”.