Ashley Charles Appeal Update

Ashley Charles Appeal Update

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We covered the case of Ashley Charles, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Phillip Sherriff on 9th November 2012, last year. At the time, we did not have enough information to comment on the conviction, but indicated that the sentence passed (life imprisonment with a tariff of 14 years) seemed on the high side. There was some lively debate as to the case on the blog.

Since then, we have had it confirmed (from the Judicial Press Office) that Mr Charles did in fact lodge grounds of appeal, against both conviction and sentence, last December. This application was considered by the ‘Single Judge’ in May (we have an overview of the procedure on appeals here). He (or she) refused the conviction appeal, but granted permission for Mr Charles to appeal the sentence.

As is his right, Mr Charles has also applied to renew his application to appeal against the conviction. No date has been sent for any hearing, but it is likely that there will be a hearing of the appeal against sentence as well as the application for permission to appeal against the conviction, later this year.

We still don’t have enough to give any informed comment on the conviction appeal (other than to say that they are hard to win and the fact that the Single Judge did not see any merit in it is not a good start for Mr Charles). In relation to the sentence appeal, our original view was that the sentence was too high, but whether it is enough to say that the appeal will be allowed and Mr Charles sentence reduced, remains to be seen …

We shall keep you updated.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

49 COMMENTS

  1. This is such a sad case. Nobody should be serving a sentence in prison wrongly convicted. From what I have read the jury failed this man. They failed to understand that there was never any intent to cause serious harm. The court of appeal will bring some hope that I decision will be made by three judges without emotion playing apart.

    • Yes people often swing glass bottles towards another persons jugular without “intending” to cause harm…how silly of us to think any differently!!!

    • Interesting use of the word innocent.
      Certainly not innocent of starting an argument. Certainly not innocent of pushing mr charles in the back and certainly not innocent of making threats of violence towards mr charles on his mobile phone.
      Mr charles only intention at that bar was to get a drink, mr sherriff had other ideas. People need to see this case for what it really is.

      • One thing is a fact, Ashley Charles has a clear conscience.
        He knows that he did not intend for this to happen….fact.

      • None of that was proven in court though, especially this mobe phone call arranging some sort of attack. It was a wild attempt by Mr Charles to escape justice. You fail to mention the intent on taking a bottle and using it as a weapon, strange that omission really.

      • There was no phone call as was proved in court, mr sherriff was merely trying to use his phone as a way of ignoring an irate little man who can’t hold his drink and who was determined to start something. As is clearly evident in the CCTV Mr Sherriff was trying to ignore little mr angry, it was Ashley Charles couldn’t drop it and was determined to have an argument and show what a “big” man he is. Grabbing a glass bottle and swinging it at someone is never going to end well, Charles deserves everything he gets.

    • … Personally I’m at least comfortable in the knowledge that if I’d got pissed and lost my rag to the extent that I’d taken the life of a father of two small children, I would not be boasting of having a clear conscience. I would be showing a bit of remorse and humility, and would find it very hard to live with myself. I don’t think these comments are appropriate here or anywhere else

      • Looking at the previous comments it is clear that the reference to having a clear conscience is with regards to their being no intent for this incident to happen. I have not seen any comments on here which boast and to suggest this is ridiculous as is the thought that he has no remorse for mr sherriff and his family.
        Everything written in the press, on social media sites such as Facebook, twitter and Utube, before and after the trial was one sided. This blog has been used by supporters of Ashley Charles to show that there are two sides to this but please do not twist these comments.

      • He has had ample opportunity to put his side of the story in court, and it has been reported on. The key thing is that the jury rejected it, the judge rejected it and there is not a shred of evidence in the public domain to support it. If you have some solid new evidence to back up what you’re saying then go ahead, it might have helped his appeal, otherwise all you are achieving by trying to reopen a trial in a public forum is further pain for the victim’s family, and putting Charles, his friends and family in a very bad light indeed.
        Having a clear conscience is completely incompatible with remorse, and at best Hope’s statement above is very poorly worded and was written thoughtlessly. I hope that he is remorseful, regardless, and that he will think of the person he killed and those two little children every day for the rest of his life.
        If what you want to do is convince the public that Charles did not set out to murder anyone then rest assured that goes without saying. I suggest that the most positive thing you could do is support the BottleStop campaign which seeks to reduce the possibility that impulsive angry people will have access to weapons that make it easy to kill first, think afterwards. What he meant to do is unfortunate superseded by what he did. It’s in his and your best interests to come to terms with that, and I strongly urge you to put your energy into something positive.
        It has also been reported that the victim’s widow has been subjected to a campaign of harassment, and if you are keen to reduce negative coverage of Charles then I suggest you find out who is responsible and try to put a stop to it. To a neutral member of the public that is absolutely repulsive, and the only effect is to further tarnish Charles himself.

        • Yes the jury did find Ashley Charles guilty but without the intent to cause serious harm that does give reason to question. The judge can only go with the juries verdict. Comments put on this blog in support of Ashley are done so as a positive, and his support will never waiver. I wish the neutral members of the public would see this in a positive light as that is the intention. With regards to your comment about bottle-stop, this campaign began before the trial had even started, so called neutral people had made their minds up without knowing anything about what had happened. How can that be right.
          Some of the comments left on Facebook and twitter were shocking and it was clear what people thought. It is difficult to support something when you read some of these comments.
          I won’t be adding further comments on this blog as it has all been said before.

  2. My choice of words was not put to offend anyone. Ashley Charles stood in court under oath and told the truth. People who know Ashley know that he told the truth. This is my last comment on this blog

    • People sitting in the public gallery saw him telling obvious lies to try and weasel his way to freedom, the jury recognised the lies and found him guilty.

  3. Ashley is closely related to me, He never intended to kill someone, He is deeply sorry for what he’s done, he never ment too do it, He’s on suicide watch due to it! He’s never been in prison/ or even had a warning from the police before in his whole life, He’s a uni graduate and owns his own business in Graphic Designing, It was a stupid mistake, he was provoked and noone understands his remorse he has for what he did!

      • I’m amazed people expect us to feel sorry for a convicted murderer, he was convicted after a fair trial and now his friends and family are trying to find ways for him to weasel his way out of serving a very lenient sentence. Myself, I feel sorry for his family having not only lost someone in such horrible circumstances get subjected to harassment by supporters of Mr Charles. Imagine that, you lose your spouse by a vile act, and just as you are trying to get your life back together the murderers supporters start making your life miserable (or more miserable) says a great deal about those who Mr Charles associated with perhaps?

  4. Can I just say that not all of Ashley’s relatives are supportive of an appeal. I know, I’m one of them. His life is ruined and he is solely to blame for that. At least he still has a life.

  5. You are all deluded! He is sorry yes. Not sorry he killed someone. Just sorry he got caught. Sorry he’s in a prison cell. If he wanted to commit suicide because he couldn’t live with what he had done he had ample opportunity to do so whilst he was on bail. He’s on suicide watch because he can’t cope with prison life not because of any guilt over what he did.

  6. From someone on neither side, who’s witnessed and been involved in bar arguments, a line is crossed when a bottle is raised. Ashley crossed that line and someone died. That was his choice. The rest is just noise. He made the choice to stab Phil, he died, therefore Ashley is a murderer. It’s really that simple.

  7. Yes of course Ashley Charles never went to the event expecting to commit a crime but then Phil Sherriff never went to the event and expected to be murdered or even assaulted. The fact is it happened, it is a crime and there is a punishment for it. The remorse seems more to be for the situation he has now found himself in.

    • We get a lot of spam (as you can imagine) and given your email and the comment (which just consisted of an emoticon) I thought it was spam and deleted it. Apologies.

      We will take comments that are grossly offensive or possibly illegal (including civil contempt) and will err on the side of caution, but otherwise don’t filter comments.

    • It’s always struck me as odd that news reports tend to say variations on the ‘Mr X showed no emotion as’ the verdict/sentence was given. How do you expect someone to react?! In my experience that is the general reaction to a verdict, whether it’s a conviction or acquittal, maybe the solemnity or the situation, or that people are a bit stunned. I don’t think you can read anything into it to be honest. It always seems like a .stock journalist phrase’.

        • Not really. I’m sure tonight and in the next few days he will be feeling a variety of emotions as what happened today sinks in.

          Also, he was never going to get out today. The best he could have hoped for was a reduction to manslaughter with a sentence of 8-10 years.

    • In terms of the issue of remorse, it should be noted that the Judge who heard the trial saidI am satisfied you did not intend to kill Mr Sherriff and you were immediately remorseful”. I think that it’s beyond doubt that he was remorseful.

      • For someone claiming to be impartial you spend a good deal of time trying to put a positive light on the murderer. Don’t forget what he did, don’t forget he murdered someone, don’t forget there’s a family torn apart and still suffering by what he did that night.

  8. @fair play on 2/8/13 you said “I won’t be adding further comments on this blog as it has all been said before.”

    I was surprised to see you comment again. There has been no evidence of remorse from Mr Charles, the only remorse shown by him and his supporters is for Mr charles. Sad really, take a life and ignore the victim and his families suffering.

  9. Remember what the detective inspector said after the trial “Since that moment, Charles has shown incredible remorse, but sadly not for Philip Sherriff, only for himself.”
    The family and friends of Charles may think he has shown remorse, very few others believe that.

    It’s always interesting to see friends and family members of a convicted killer try to make it look they’re the injured party, perhaps they should take a moment to consider the facts though – he was convicted for murder at a fair trial, he has made a full appeal which was rejected by three judges, try to admit with the fact that he is a killer whether he showed remorse or not. He’ll be known as a murderer for the rest of his life, at least he still has a life, through his actions a good man hasn’t.

      • Can I ask why you accept the judges comment who saw Mr Charles only a few times in court over the word of the D.I. who will have spent time with Mr Charles after the murder interviewing him?
        Also say the remorse was genuine, is remorse enough to reduce a sentence the act of murder is still the same after all.

        • In turn –

          1. I’m a lawyer, I prosecute and defend and have seen many many people express remorse, and a lot aren’t genuine. Judges are very used to hearing people express remorse and are very good at filtering out those that aren’t. Judges aren’t soft touches and approach such claims with a high degree of scepticism. If the judge says its genuine, I’m inclined to believe that.

          Also, the police officer is hardly independent. He will have dealt with Mr Sherriff’s family and seem the damage done to them. I’m not saying he’s acting inappropriately, but subconsciously.

          The judge will have seen Mr Charles behaviour throughout the whole trial at close quarters, not just when he was giving evidence.

          2. The act maybe the same, but a judge has to set a minimum term and remorse is an important factor.

          I appreciate that to the family (certainly at this stage) remorse may not be relevant to the pain they are suffering, but then the label of murder or manslaughter doesn’t change what the consequences are.

          But the judge is sentencing for the harm done to society as a whole and remorse is important, if for no other reason than it impacts on how likely Mr Charles is to offend again.

    • I would say to anyone, of any age,
      If your pushed and provoked and can remove yourself from an intimidating situation, walk away.

      • Well the full video was shown to court of the incident, the jostling was from both sides at times and Mr Charles had plenty of opportunity to walk away, he decided to break a bottle and use it as a weapon.

        I’ve been in crowded bars a number of times, I’ve been pushed, provoked, yet I like the majority of people don’t turn to murder as a solution.

        It’s interesting that you still try to push the blame on the victim though, it says a great deal about a person really.

    • Who instigated the situation, never forget that.
      It needs to be made clear to the general public that Mr Charles didnt break the bottle, it broke when it came into contact with something, that is not the same.
      As for the police comments, would you expect anything less.

      • “Who instigated the situation” that would be Mr Charles then.

        “Mr Charles didnt [sic] break the bottle” yes he did!

        It takes considerable force to break a bottle, try it sometime when it’s safe to do so, and when there’s no one around that you are angry with; there is no way that he didn’t know it had broken in my opinion, he knew he was then holding a deadly weapon, he knew he was attacking the victim with a deadly weapon.

        But please, keep defending a convicted murderer, keep trying to convince yourself that Mr Charles is the victim, the records show he is a murderer, the public know he is a murderer, those facts will never ever change, just like the victim will never ever see his family again – something you keep forgetting it would appear by trying to blame the victim all the time.

        I don’t see any need for continuing this discussion now, as I say the records will always show that Mr Charles is a murderer, I’m happy that he will spend the next decade or so behind bars, I’m sad it’s not longer, but that’s how it is. I’d be happier still if the murder hadn’t happened and I could talk to Phil again; you’ll get to speak to the murderer again, he’ll walk the streets again, he’ll see his family. Try to think on that when you come up with another argument as to how it wasn’t Mr Charles’ fault at all.

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