Ashley Charles

Ashley Charles

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EDIT: Ashley Charles has lodged an appeal against conviction and sentence, fuller details of the updated position are here.

We will revisit the case again when the appeal is heard. In the interim, we have decided to close the comments on this post. Thank you to those who have participated in the discussion of the sentence. END

On Friday 9th November, Ashley Charles was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Phillip Sherriff, following a nightclub fight. The tariff was set at 14 years.

The facts are that Mr Charles was at a bar when he was pushed by a Phillip Sherriff over an innocuous argument (as is too often the case, the full sentencing remarks are not available). It seems that Mr Charles grabbed a bottle from Mr Sherriff, swung it behind him (where it broke) and plunged it into Mr Sherriff’s neck.

It seems that this was ‘out of character’ (meaning that there was, in all likelihood, no history of violence in Mr Charles past) and that he did not deliberately smash the bottle before attacking Mr Sherriff. Also, afterwards, Mr Charles was remorseful, saying “is he okay? I wish I had not done that. It was a stupid mistake.” He pleaded not guilty and had a trial, saying that he was acting in self-defence. The jury rejected this however and found him guilty of murder.

So, the ‘Goldilocks Question’ – was the sentence too high, too short, or about right? It is clear that the starting point is 15 years. There was no credit for a plea of guilty, so why did the Judge reduce the tariff by one year?

For this, you need to look at the aggravating and mitigating features. On the face of it, none of the aggravating features are present. At least two of the seven mitigating features (an intention to cause really serious harm rather than an intention to kill, and a lack of premeditation) were present.

In light of that, it would seem that the question is why the reduction was only one year rather than more, given all of the above? For that, we will have to wait to see if there is an appeal, but on the face of it, it would not have been surprising if the tariff had been less.

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

332 COMMENTS

  1. Detective Inspector Richard Beadle said…

    “[Phil] was killed by Ashley Charles following a single blow to the neck with a smashed beer bottle. The moment Charles severed his artery, Philip had no chance of surviving.

    “Since that moment, Charles has shown incredible remorse, but sadly not for Philip Sherriff, only for himself.

    “I deplore his defence tactics of promoting his own character as admirable whilst willing to tarnish that of a dead man who can no longer speak.

    “He manufactured a defence that besmirched Philip’s character and presented a catalogue of lies about what was said and done in the moments before he attacked Philip. This was a cowardly act from a cowardly man who could not face the consequences of his sickening behaviour.

    “This trial was an example of a defence case manufactured after the prosecution case had been disclosed to him, hoping that he could wriggle away from a conviction.”

    I think the minimum term should have been much higher to be honest.

  2. Thanks very much for your comment. It’s not clear if you were involved in the case, but as we say, because the sentencing remarks aren’t published, we can only work from what we can glean from the media reports. This can be dangerous as the news reporting is not always accurate or clear (something that we hope to address with this blog).

    One thing we would say is that it was perhaps not appropriate for the police officer to speculate on the conduct of the defence.

    You don’t say why you think that the minimum term should be higher – we would be interested in hearing your views as to why that is the case.

    • “You don’t say why you think that the minimum term should be higher – we would be interested in hearing your views as to why that is the case.”

      I’ve always believed that a life sentence should mean life, as it it Mr Charles could end up spending around 17% of his life behind bars, not much for murder really. We’re far too soft on those guilty of serious crime these days.

      • There’s two separate issues there. Firstly, was the sentence in line with current guidance from Parliament and the Courts. What I was suggesting was that in relation to that, the sentence was perhaps higher than it should be.

        The second issue is whether the current ‘tariffs’ are correct. That’s obviously a much wider issue with many different views.

        You do say that we are too soft nowadays. It’s worth remembering that sentencing has increased greatly in the last twenty years or so. Had Mr. Charles been sentenced ten years ago, he would have received a shorter tariff, perhaps 20% of more lower.

        Do you think that life should mean a whole life tariff, or just that the tariffs should be longer? What would you have thought would be the appropriate tariff here?

  3. “Do you think that life should mean a whole life tariff, or just that the tariffs should be longer? What would you have thought would be the appropriate tariff here?”

    Indeed, a life sentence should mean a whole life tariff. I realize that sentencing has increased in recent years, but they still don’t go far enough. In this particular case Mr Charles took a bottle, turned it into a weapon, then used it to kill – this to me at least means he should spend the rest of his life behind bars. The length of sentence imposed on him however means he could well be out by the time he’s 40 to resume his life which is wrong.

    • The ‘life should means life’ argument is well rehearsed. One major problem that I have with that argument is the tacit rejection of the idea that people can be rehabilitated. Is it not possible that after 14 years he may be able to re-enter society so as not to be a further burden on the state?

      Does one moment of madness warrant spending the rest of his life in prison? Would you suggest a whole life order would be appropriate if the victim had recovered from his injuries?

      Another issue with life meaning life is that for defendants of different ages, the sentences are different. If a 21 year old and an 80 year old commit a murder, is it right that the 21 year old spends 65+ years in prison and the 80 year old spends 5 years in prison?

      • The life should mean life argument is not rehearsed, it means that a murderer is removed from society for the rest of their life, rehabilitation is not the issue, or rather it is the wrong issue. I would imagine many in society believe that sending a murderer like Ashley Charles to jail should be a punishment, as in they are punished for their actions, not given counselling and treat with kid gloves for a few years before being let out on supposed ‘good behaviour’.

        We spend too much time in this country being concerned with the rights of murderers and those convicted of serious crime in general, when we should be spending time considering the victim and the victims family.

        Maybe it would be fair to say to Ashley Charles you can be released on the day you give the victim his life back, after all, the victim’s family will have to live with his actions for the rest of their lives, they get no early release for good behaviour.

        “Does one moment of madness warrant spending the rest of his life in prison?”

        The time taken to murder someone is irrelevant, Ashley Charles knew by breaking the bottle he was creating a weapon, it doesn’t matter what form the weapon takes, he used it to murder someone and therefore deserves to be punished for his crime.

        • Do you think that ALL murders should attract a whole life tariff, or are there any exceptions? What do you do about mercy killings and the like?

          In some countries (such as America) juries have a much greater role in deciding sentence – do you think English juries should be able to set the tariff?

          My personal view is similar to Lyndon’s, I think that there’s always hope of redemption. And once you move away from the death penalty, and the idea of
          punishment as straight revenge, then it is right to differentiate with length of tariff between different types of murders.

          Here, the judge seemed to have found as a fact that Mr Charles did not deliberately smash the bottle to create a weapon – to me that makes a big difference also.

      • The victim did not recover from his injuries. As for “one moment of madness” as you say, its one Hell of a moment of maddness to aim for someone’s neck with a bottle. Philip Sherriff was hardly attacking him.

  4. Yes it was decided he did not break the bottle, or intend to cause any form of serious harm. I’m not sure how the jury came to their verdict.

    It is understandable that he should serve a prison sentence, but for someone who has never offended before, and probably is shocked about what has happened and is very remorseful, 14 years is too long as I am sure he won’t commit any further crimes. He will forever have to live with what has happened, which is probably enough punishment for someone who never intended to cause this.

    14 years is probably just a waste of money, and a space in prison for someone who is actually a danger to society.

    • Actually they could not prove he *deliberately* broke the bottle, that fact that it was broken by Mr Charles is difficult for anyone to deny as he took a complete bottle from Mr Sherriff then seconds late thrust the broken bottle into his neck.

      Many have gone on record stating that Mr Charles has shown no remorse for the victim or the victims family, 14 years is therefore far to light a sentence for a murderer showing no remorse for his actions.

      • I really do not know where you get your information from!! Ashley charles has shown nothing but remorse.You dont know anything about him so please do not make statements like that.

    • I for one feel much better that people like Ashley Charles get sent to prison. I would hate to make a comment which angers someone enough to slash my neck.

      • Yes, me too. But I think one of the factors being considered on this debate, is whether the intention was there from Mr Charles to “slash” Mr Sherriff’s neck.

        • If someone smashes a pint glass in your face do they intend to hurt you? Yes they do. Do you think Charles would have stopped to think if he had a different wepon in his hand i.e. a knife? Or was a broken bottle not a lethal enough wepon for you – just asking the question?

  5. @Dan “Here, the judge seemed to have found as a fact that Mr Charles did not deliberately smash the bottle to create a weapon – to me that makes a big difference also.”

    No, they could not prove it had been broken deliberately but he must have known it had broken and that he was using a deadly weapon.

    • On this issue, if it could not be proven that the bottle was deliberately smashed to turn it into a deadly weapon, is it fair to sentence him on any other basis than it was not so deliberately smashed?

      • He knowingly pushed a broken bottle into a man’s neck, he intended harm, he inflicted a fatal injury, the actual breaking of the bottle is perhaps incidental.

      • Do we know how much time lapsed between the bottle breaking and it making contact with Mr Sherriff? Surely that’s a relevant factor in deciding whether Mr Charles knew the bottle was broken and something that the jury should have been aware of.

    • Absolutely. Another sensible person with a sensible comment. Fact is, Ashley Charles hit someone in the neck with a glass article.

  6. @Reasonable – To be found guilty of murder, the jury must have been sure that he intended to cause really serious harm (or else the offence would have been Manslaughter, not Murder). If there is an appeal, it will be interesting to see if the defence that there was no intent to cause really serious harm was put forward.

    @Bobster42 – Isn’t it relevant to Mr Charles culpability that he hadn’t deliberately created a weapon that was like a knife?

    • Surely the type of weapon becomes irrelevant, it’s how he used the weapon in the end that counts. After all a knife isn’t dangerous in its self, it become dangerous in the hands of someone intending harm to others.

      Thrusting a weapon of any sort into someone’s neck show they intended that person harm.

      • @Bobster42 – thanks for your comments, it’s good to have some debate.

        The issue is whether he intended to cause really serious harm; by convicting Mr Charles of murder, the jury clearly found that he did. We are merely debating that outcome, and of course we aren’t privy to the totality of the evidence, the defence that was run, or the mitigation used, as we weren’t in the courtroom.

        Intention is at the very heart of the matter. Mr Charles did not go to that nightclub armed with a knife or other offensive weapon. He did not break the bottle before thrusting it into the neck of the Mr Sherriff. Does that not make any difference to his intention?

    • It is more about where he hit him, in one of the most vulnerable parts of a person – the neck. If someone hits you in the neck, with a fist, object or a glass implement, they mean to cause damage.

      • The question is whether it was the intention of Mr Charles to kill/cause serious harm. I very much doubt that someone, without a history of violence or any criminal past, would be sophisticated enough to know just where to aim, when finding themselves in that situation.

        • The neck is not really a large area is it? Are you saying Charles wouldnt really be aware of all the vital structures in the neck and would possibly need a diagram to hit something vital? If Mr Sherriff had lived, theres a very good chance he would be sporting a large area of scarring and psychological issues. What sentence would you have imposed in this case given that Mr Sherriff would have to deal with both for the rest of his life?

  7. Interesting article.

    You touch upon the aspect of appealing; do you think there is much room for appeal here and if so, what do you think might occur?

    There does seem a huge split looking online to people thinking the verdict is either too harsh or too lenient.

    • @Dan Snar – Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

      I would imagine that there would be an appeal against sentence for the reasons hinted at above. It is impossible on the facts we have to know whether there would be an appeal (we will have a section up soon on appeals).

      And as to the views of the online community, does the fact that some think its too high and some too low mean that it might be about right?

      What’s your view on the sentence?

      • OK, thanks for the reply.

        “And as to the views of the online community, does the fact that some think its too high and some too low mean that it might be about right?”

        Very interesting point. Possibly yes you are right.

        It shall be interesting from now on whether there will be appeal or not as the case is clearly not black or white.

  8. @Sara “He did not break the bottle before thrusting it into the neck of the Mr Sherriff. Does that not make any difference to his intention?”

    The bottle was broken before it was used on Mr Sherriff, the Doctor/Surgeon gave evidence to this effect. If the bottle had broken on impact with the neck I would have said there was some doubt as to the murderers intent. As it is he attacked someone without provocation with a broken bottle. He knew the bottle was a weapon when he used it, and I don’t see why his term in jail should not be higher in this case.

    I too hope Mr Charles appeals, and on review of the evidence his sentence is increased.

  9. Thanks. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it and will look at any appeal that happens. One of the reasons that I am personally against mandatory sentences is because most cases are not black or white.

    @Bobster42 – We will get a piece on appeals up soon, but if Mr Charles appeals and is unsuccessful, then there is no provision for his sentence to be increased. The only power the Court of Appeal would have to increase his sentence is if there was an Attorney-General’s Reference and I would bet a lot of money that the AG would not go near this sentence.

  10. I struggle with this one. Both arguments carry weight, but Charles had no former convictions or arrests, acts clearly drunk and might not have know that the bottle had smashed.
    We were not in the court room, we only hear the prosecutions version of events and then they publish half the facts so that everyone assumes Charles is a “typical” murderer.

    I don’t think he is, I think it was “a moment of madness, 1 second to take a life”

    The sentence should be less, more like a manslaughter charge. I’d be interested to see all of the facts first though to back this up.

    • It takes a significant impact to break a bottle like that, it was discussed in court, therefore Charles knew the bottle had broken – put it this way, he was ‘with it’ enough to be able to coordinate his actions to twice try to grab a phone from the Mr Sherriff before then grabbing the bottle from his hand. Charles was also aware of his actions to the extent he tried to leave the scene after which he admitted to ‘bottling’ Mr Sherriff; both men were drunk, but not insensible through drink.

      It takes less than a second to pull the trigger of a gun so the moment of madness could equally apply to gun crimes, a broken bottle is just as much a deadly weapon.

      Many who commit murder for the first time are not ‘typical’ murderers, does it lessen the crime that it’s a first offence or out of character? The outcome is still the same at the end of the day.

      Reducing the sentence would show how much value is put on a man’s life. From the evidence Charles knew the bottle had broken when he used it to kill Mr Sherriff, he admitted bottling him then showed no remorse, is this really the type of person people are saying should be given a lighter sentence?

    • It is not the normal reaction of a person to “take a life in one second”. It shows an unpredictable agression in a person, especially when they are not being attacked.

      • Maybe not physically, no. Verbally? Who knows. But I think the fact that this all happened in “a second” supports any appeal that Mr Charles and his family might consider. I think the whole thing about this case is the tariff that has been set. No-one here , from what I can see, is questioning whether Mr Charles should serve time. It’s more about how this case compares to others. Just today, an article was released in the media (and yes, I know it’s the media) about a young man who has raped a girl of eight, sexually assaulted a girl of seven and sexually molested a five year old girl seven years previously. He videoed all of the assaults. He has been downloading indecent images of children since he was 12. His sexual behaviour was described by the judge as “well entrenched”. He is described as “every parent’s nightmare”. He manipulated the parents of these children. He had aide memiores for himself, planning out what he proposed to do. His sentence? A minimum of 8 years. Six years less than Mr Charles. Is this person less of a risk than Mr Charles? Does this person need less rehabilitation than Mr Charles for reacting in a “second” of madness? I think not.

        • 8 years is far too lenient. If this person has engrained tendencies to assault children, he most likely will not be rehabilitated to a degree where he could be released back into society. However, having read many of the posts on this Ashley Charles debate, Im wondering if he too had “helpers” fighting his corner, who’s children had never been victims of sexual assault also? Sometimes I think of the Courts as being like Doctors and Nurses. Once you’ve seen a few stab victims you become imune to them. It seems to be the same with criminals. A number of years ago, there was a drug dealer in my area by the name of Harvey Ingham. He got 20 years for pleading not guilty to importing 10 million pounds worth of heroin. He had not had chance to sell any of it, not had he made money from it. On the contrary, when someone turned him in, he lost a hell of a lot of money which had not been made legally. Like I said, he pleaded not guilty even though he’d done it, but he hadnt killed anyone. Neither had he sexually assaulted anyone. 20 years? Now there’s a sentence which does not fit the crime, he actually served 12. As for Charles and the child molester, keep them locked up – Ill happily pay my taxes to know my family and children are a little safer. I will need more convincing if you intend to turn me into Lord Longford 🙂

  11. @Bobster42
    Although I understand why people discuss what ‘value’ murder/manslaughter sentences put on a life, personally, I think the sentence should reflect ALL of the facts. Of course it is highly relevant than a man died here and that a bottle was used as a weapon. Clearly a terrible offence. However I think it is also necessary to take into account that this was a weapon not taken to the scene, Ashley Charles was remorseful, saying “is he okay? I wish I had not done that. It was a stupid mistake.”, his previous character and other such factors.

    In a death by dangerous driving case, there is an uplift in the sentence to reflect the loss of life, but where there are two identical offences of dangerous driving, one where the victim survives, the other where the victim dies, should the sentence for causing death be 10 years + (or 14 as in this case) because that is what a life is worth?

    @Peacekeeper – Thanks for your comment. I think you raise an interesting point suggesting the sentence should be more like a manslaughter sentence. If you were the Judge, bearing in mind there is a mandatory life sentence, what would you have set the tariff at?

  12. @PeaceKeeper – I’m inclined to agree with you. What sort of sentence would you feel is appropriate given what you know about the case (which you rightly say, is not the case in it’s entirety)

    @Bobster42 – I don’t think the sentence was passed because 14 years is the ‘value’ of a man’s life. If we looked at it in those terms surely we would be advocating a life for a life?

    • To be honest, I’m not a judge so I wouldn’t like to say what he “deserves”. I disagree that the sentence given reflects the value of the man’s life- this is not the case. I believe that the persons charector should influence the punishment, but remembering that his actions did indeed take a mans life. It’s such a tough call.

      I think some people are privy to more information than the rest of us, as some clearly attended the court???? Certainly sounds that way anyway.
      I think the people that suffer the most here are the families of both men. They parents/siblings of Mr Charles will be beside themselves too I am sure and let’s not forget that they will read some I the awful comments made on websites.

      Similarly the family of the man killed will live through their torment on a daily basis.

      This is just my opinion. I hope that if any of my family members of friends were unlucky enough to be in this situation; we would learn to take all of the facts before we cast aspersions.

      • I don’t see anyone casting aspersions here, the facts that I detailed are on record.

        To those thinking that there should be a reduction in the time Mr Charles spends in jail I suggest you have a listen to this from Radio 2 yesterday http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nt4n3 (zoom through to around 1hr 09mins) it’ll only be available for a few days now.

      • I have listened to this just now- it’s very sad to listen to. But you know what, this is the wife of the victim- it’s not balanced.
        I don’t agree with what Mr Charles has done, but it’s not a two sided story.

      • I just wonder if you have forgotten that Charles will get out of prison and Mr Sherriff is never comming back? Secondly if you were in this situation Peace Keeper, you would not be on this debate.

  13. @Peace keeper – the description of the murder by the Mrs Sherriff on Radio 2 was how the events occurred and have been pretty much agreed upon in court. So what’s not balanced about it? At the end of the day Mr Charles was convicted by a majority jury of murder so try not to feel too sorry for him.

    • I understand that, it’s difficult not to feel bad. In my opinion a simple argument/fight ended up this way. What a waste of two lives.

      • Its difficult for you to not feel bad for Ashley Charles because he didnt kill your husband, wife, brother or sister etc. I have to ask, how much of a “peace keeper” you would be if he had. A simple argument (it wasnt a fight) is not a reason to hit someone in the neck with a glass bottle. He could have walked away, so why didnt he?

  14. He was convicted of murder and so the sentence has to be life. All I think @Peacekeeper is advocating is a sentence which reflects all of the factors – both favourable and adverse to Mr Charles. I struggle to see how it isnt relevant for example that it could not be proven that Mr Charles deliberately smashed the bottle in order to turn it into a more deadly weapon.

    Sentencing is an art and not a science and there is always going to be disagreement and ranges in which a sentence can be said to be ‘correct’. It is a balancing act which must have regard to the victim (and their family) but also to the defendant. I would have though 14 years in prison is punishment enough.

  15. @ peacekeeper- You are the voice of reason here. There are ALOT of facts that have not been brought to light regarding this case for various reasons. Only those who attended court know the truth. I for one am dumbfounded as to why the jury in this case found Mr Charles guilty of Murder, who knows maybe they have been influenced by certain campaigns that are Crawling over Facebook that to me seem very confused as to what the campaign actually represents. The comments I have read on there are appalling, it’s an absolute disgrace and disrespect to Mr Charles family and friends who are also victims of this tragedy.

    @Bobster42- please care to remember the words of the judge when passing sentence ” I am satisfied you did not deliberately smash the bottle you used. I am satisfied you did not intend to kill Mr Sherriff and you were immediately remorseful.” Yes I for one think Mr Charles sentence should be less.

    • This is the thing- thank you for the back up there!
      I was always lead to believe that this would have been a manslaughter charge as the intent to hurt was there, but not to kill.

      It’s the families that suffer. I have read some awful comments (I am not on Facebook, but Twitter was full of it at the time.) Wishing bad luck and ill health on Mr Charles and his family isn’t going to make anything better about the situation.

      The public need to remember that neither Phillip Sheriff or Ashley Charles won’t be reading this, but there families will.

    • “I bottled him…” The words of Mr Charles shortly after he ran away from the scene.

      @Hope21 Mr Charles’s family and friends are here to feel the disgrace, the victim of Mr Charles attack is sadly not here to feel anything. It’s also sad that in your comment you made no mention of the victim or his family and their suffering, Mr Charles didn’t show them much if any concern either. As the inspector involved in the case said Mr Charles showed only remorse for himself and his situation. The only campaign on Facebook I am aware of is not directed at Mr Charles or this case, though maybe you failed to understand its intent.

      I see no point in continuing the discussion here, it appears people are more concerned with the murderer and his family than the victim and his widow. Very sad state of affairs when a murderer has more people speaking up for them than a victim.

      • I think you would find that if Ashley Charles had murdered their loved one, most of these people would not be on here.

  16. You need to understand that there are always two sides to every story that is my point and I assume you were not in court yourself to have heard and SEEN the other version of events. This is a terrible tragedy for ALL concerned, absolutely devastating for the victim’s family and also Mr Charles family but Bobster42 you choose not to accept a different opinion on this. You are entitled to your views and I am entitled to mine, after all that’s what a debate entails isn’t it ?
    And another piece of information you may be interested in is the ” I bottled him ” statement was never proven to be said. May I suggest that you refrain from reading the newspapers who completely sensationalise stories and are biased ( economical with the truth). The only true thing printed in a newspaper is the date. I apologise if this blog hasn’t become the outcry you wanted Bobster42 but it’s just a blog set up to allow people to air their views in a dignified way…unlike some other websites.

    • “I assume you were not in court yourself to have heard and SEEN the other version of events.”

      You do know what happens when you assume don’t you?

      “And another piece of information you may be interested in is the ” I bottled him ” statement was never proven to be said.”

      Are you calling the person recording that comment by Mr Charles a liar?

      • I am merely stating that were inaccuracies. I am quite interested in your second comment also, would you care to please tell me ” what happens ” when one assumes ?

    • Im sorry, but he did “bottle him”. It does not matter if he said it or not. Newspapers did not make mistakes in printing this fact. The only blessing in this case is that CCTV saw him do it.

  17. Also is it not questionable why the jury deliberated for three days before they came to their decision? Surely if it was a question of basing the facts on the 20 sec CCTV footage shown in the media they would have reached a verdict very quickly. Maybe there was more……………

    • Hope21 good points raised here. This is simply a discussion forum, with brighter people than those commenting on Facebook!

      The facts are that no one has won in this situation, just losers. The unfortunate thing is the families grief on both sides. Friends / families / wife’s and girlfriends without their sons/ friends /partners etc.

      • I asume you mean “brighter people than facebook” because no one on facebook is in favour of Ashley Charles?

  18. I think that it’s certainly true that without sitting through the whole trial we will never know the true facts. One advantage of there being an appeal is that the Court of Appeal will (should at least) give a good summary of the facts so we will be able to make more informed comment.

    • @Bobster42 (or anyone else for that matter) – I’d be interested on your views on the sentences in the Dutch Facebook Case. The three people convicted of murder were all under 18, but all sentenced to 1 or 2 years in prison. It’s a very different approach to criminal justice, but is it something that we should be moving towards?

      Since the Second World War there have been only 41 people given a life sentence in Holland (England has over 13,500 currently in prison, despite our population only being just over three times as much) and yet their murder rate is lower.

    • This is true. Maybe the appeal will give us more information? Do you think it’s realistic to think the sentence could be reduced taking into account what the judge said upon sentencing??

  19. I would like to think the appeal would give us more unbiased information. Based on the judge’s comments I feel Mr Charles has a good case for an appeal for his sentence to be reduced. In my view this is a case of manslaughter at the most and maybe the judge felt that too and those comments were made by him as an opening for an appeal. Mr Charles was confirmed to have had no previous convictions and never been arrested before and in the Judges owns words was immediately remorseful. I do not believe this was intentional and there lies the question, is this a case of murder or manslaughter ?

  20. We will get some more stuff about appeals up soon (promise!). But in an appeal against sentence, Mr Charles would have to show that the sentence was ‘manifestly excessive’. This means more than ‘a bit high’, so if the Court of Appeal Judges felt that the appropriate tariff was, say, 13 years, this would not make the original tariff ‘manifestly excessive’ and so the appeal would probably be refused.

    In an appeal against conviction, the Court will not interfere unless the Judge made some kind of legal mistake. The general rule is that the jury heard all the evidence and their verdict should be respected. We will have to see, but unless an error is identified an appeal against the conviction will almost certainly not succeed.

  21. Firstly, i would just like to say how refreshing it is to see a blog that opens up a fair debate on this particular case.

    May I start by saying that I do feel that the media have influenced the public by making much of the prosecution’s case but then very littie mention of the defence, during this trial. Mr Charles’s account of what happened that night was only reported locally and didn’t make the national papers. And yet, upon reading Mr Charles’s version of events in the media, everything became clear to me. Until that point, there seemed to be loopholes in what was being reported. Why else would Mr Charles be attempting to snatch Mr Sherriff’s phone? He was clearly provoked and fearful that Mr Sherriff was arranging trouble.

    I also feel that the severity of the injury and how Mr Sherriff died has possibly had an influence on the verdict. The severity of the injury does not mean that Mr Charles went out with the intention to kill and thus purposely aimed at vital arteries. The action was described as a “swipe” by eye witnesses and yet various reports still claim that it was a “plunge” or “thrust” into the neck. In my view, Mr Charles lashed out, not with the intention to kill, not knowing the bottle had broke, but to merely “swipe” away the threats made before him of trouble being arranged. Unfortunately this action had devastating consequences. After all, anger lurks within us all, if we are provoked enough and I hope the jury considered this.

    Also, looking at the CCTV, Mr Sherriff seems to be swaying slightly and yet Mr Charles appears steady on his feet. Are we sure that Mr Charles was drunk? That swipe to Mr Sherriff’s phone is quick and alert, not the actions of somebody who is inebriated through alcohol. Yes, you could argue that this would raise more questions. However, it could also be said that, if Mr Sherriff was drunk and absuive, this could appear even more intimidating and threatening to one who was sober potentially.

    One final comment on remorse. I would be interested to know on what evidence Inspector Beadle is basing his comment on, when he says that Mr Charles has only showed remorse for himself. For me, the true answer to that lies in the recent picture released of Mr Charles, taken I assume, shortly after the incident happened but before Mr Sherriff died. Look at those eyes.

    That night bought a tragic version of events that had devastating consequences for two men and their families. However, I really do hope that the family of Mr Charles will appeal against what seems a lengthy sentence for a man who acted “out of character” and has no previous convictions or history of violence.

    • There was national coverage of the defence case in the media. A defence which was ‘manufactured’ I believe the word was, I could be wrong.

      You only have the words of Mr Charles as to the reason why he was trying to snatch the phone, it’s perfectly reasonable to suppose he gave this defence to try and get him off the murder charge is it not? There was no phone call made by Mr Sherriff, there was no mobile signal at that location.

      If Mr Charles felt intimidated why did he trap Mr Sherriff at the bar before attacking him, anyone feeling intimidated normally removes themselves from the situation not escalate it.

      If Mr Charles wasn’t drunk as you suggest then that makes it more likely that he knew the bottle was broken before using it. He was however drunk.

      How do you know that the red eye’s shown in the photograph (I presume that is what you refer to) are the result of tears shed for Mr Sherriff? That is surely guesswork on anyone’s part.

      There was a fair trial, during which the jury and many in the public gallery heard all the evidence in regards to this murder. After which the jury deliberated over the evidence for a considerable amount of time, they came to a majority verdict on the basis of all the evidence they had heard and seen in court that Mr Charles was guilty of murder. It’s easy to say it was out of character and he should be let off easy, but whether it was in character or not the outcome is the same, he murdered someone, and 14 years is a very light minimum term for him.

      I do feel sorry for the victims family if there is an appeal, surely they have gone through enough trauma without being dragged through it all again and again. I find it difficult to see why Mr Charles and his supporters here would want to put the victims family through more misery for the sake of what, a two year reduction in his jail term, maybe three years – Mr Charles was convicted of murder by a fair trail, he gets to spend a few years in jail for his actions, his victim will still be dead when he’s walking free again though.

    • No one who watches this film clip can see Philip Sherriff swaying. He was simply trying to avoid the agressor who is Ashley Charles. Mr Sherriffs hands are open, submissive even. He has someone lunging at him, shouting inches from his face. People describe Mr Sherriff as being completely in control of himself throughout. Charles is not sober, this is obvious. He had been knocking back free booze for quite some time. The eyes are cold, and I hear that Mr Charles is an educated man. His eyes are displaying nothing more than self pity for how much trouble he had realised he is now in.

      • Have you seen a different CCTV footage? It’s just that at no point do I see Mr Sherriff’s hands as open and submissive on the CCTV footage that was released in the media. To me, he seems preoccupied with whatever he is saying on his mobile phone, with one hand holding a bottle and the other obviously holding his phone.

  22. The fact, if it is a fact, that no phone call was made and that there was no mobile signal, surely is irrelevant. How was Mr Charles to know this? Why was Mr Sherriff talking on his phone, if there was no signal or no call made? Actually, thinking about it, maybe that piece of information is relevant.

    No, I don’t think it is reasonable to state that Mr Charles gave his defence to try and get off the murder charge. He swore under oath to tell the truth. We could question everybody’s version of events in court, if we were to take your view.

    At which point, does Mr Charles trap Mr Sherriff? I can see from the CCTV footage that there are people standing either side of Mr Sherriff but Mr Sherriff seems to have found himself naturally in that position. It doesn’t seem to have been forced upon him, does it not?

    How do you know that Mr Charles was drunk?

    The eyes on the photo show remorse. My point is, how was it evidenced that that remorse was only for himself.

    In terms of your summing up of the court case, I would be interested to hear your view on how this case compares to other murder cases that have been in the media recently. Murders that were reported as premeditated and planned and in some cases, the prepetrators have gone on to conceal the evidence. The defendants have received similar sentences to Mr Charles. Do you think that’s fair?

    • We’ll never know what Mr Sherriff was doing on the phone, the only person who knew this never spoke again after Mr Charles attacked him.

      As to Mr Charles trapping Mr Sherriff at the bar, you’ve already said there was someone either side of him, if Mr Charles stands directly in front of him where is he supposed to go? Over the bar maybe? Mr Sherriff was standing at the bar when Mr Charles approached so obviously this was his natural position. Do you not find it interesting that a man who said he felt intimidated by someone approaches them and does not let them move away?

      How long do you think it relevant that a murder is premeditated, 3 hours, 3 days, a minute? I don’t know what was in Mr Charles mind when he used the bottle to attack Mr Sherriff. If a murderer turned round and said I only decided to kill him 30 seconds beforehand should he be let off with a lighter sentence?

      • I think the point that is trying to be made here is that none of Mr Charles evidence has been presented. This ensures that everyone hates him before the jury make their verdict.

        Yes, Mr Charles will be released in 14 years, but what life will he have then? Will he ever marry/work/have a family etc. and what of his parents etc. this applied to all men who get convicted of murder. If its murder in cold blood, then you loose your compassion. But when it’s a manslaughter case and the person gets murder; it seems unfair

    • THe eyes on the photo show a heavy night of drinking and tears over the realisation that he is now in deep deep trouble.

        • Have you watched Mr Charles “loosing the plot” on the video? Or maybe Charles is just naturally violent when sober? I would have like to give him the excuse that he acted the way he did because of alcohol, however now you’ve said that, maybe you are right. Sober and this violent when not even under threat? If this is the case, should he ever be released.

  23. @Peace keeper “I think the point that is trying to be made here is that none of Mr Charles evidence has been presented.”

    It was presented in court, and after hearing it he was found guilty of murder, isn’t this how the legal system works? The jury heard both the prosecution and defence evidence, after hearing all the evidence (and seeing it repeatedly) they decided after much consideration that Mr Charles was guilty. You keep trying to find an excuse for Mr Charles, the fact is he was convicted following a fair trial of murder. Perhaps people should think of what sort of lives they have when they’re released from prison before they murder someone, I don’t see why we should spend time worrying over a murderers future.

  24. Going back to Peacekeeper’s point about the evidence not being presented and people already hating Mr Charles before the verdict was reached – not only was this down to the media, it was also down to a Facebook page that was used as a means of rallying up hatred for Mr Charles by openly discussing the trial on its site, while the trial was in full flow. The purpose of the page is to ban glass bottles and such like from City Centre pubs and clubs and yet it has been used as a forum to open up discussion on this case. Links loaded up onto the site about the case, which incidentally have now been deleted, have triggered a wave of hatred and sickening messages and comments about Mr Charles on its site. All of this was in full flow while the trial was being heard in court.

    The fact is, I support the principle of what it is trying to do but I won’t touch it until it gets followers that have a sense of decorum and respect and an ability to focus on its original purpose.

    • I visited that page during trial, however I only ever saw links to media sites which were reporting on the case. I did see a number of comments online made by friends of Mr Charles during the trial yet you make no mention of those. I saw however no comments online during the trial which was anything other than old news.

      I make a point of never discussing a case until the verdict is reached, however I see no major issue with people linking to media sites such as the BBC etc. the information is already public at that point. I must say many of the comments I’ve read on media sites are quite aggressive towards Mr Sherriff for some reason, maybe friends of Mr Charles have been active?

      I also visited the FB page before commenting, I see no lack of decorum – and consider this, friends of Mr Charles should support that campaign as much as anyone else, if he’d grabbed a plastic bottle on that night he wouldn’t be in jail now for murder.

      People discussing trials has been going on since the court system was set up, it’s just the means of doing it has changed in recent years.

      • I make no mention of comments made by Mr Charles’s friends as I didn’t see them. Can you confirm where they were please? I would be interested to see those. How do you know they were friends of Mr Charles? It seems that anybody who is prepared to view this from both sides has to know Mr Charles personally, in your opinion. Can you also let me know the sites on which you have seen aggressive comments towards Mr Sherriff?

        The reason you see no sense of lack of decorum on the Facebook page now is because the derogatory comments towards Mr Charles have now been deleted.

    • Im afraid, people who engage in sickening acts such as this, will attract hatred and sickening comments. At least the CCTV did not lie. It recorded Ashley Charles and his behaviour was inhuman. The way he snatches that bottle will provoke revulsion in every normal person. This is a person none of us would wish to meet in a situation where there has been a MINOR altercation. I feel for his family and the sickening shame he has brought upon them. Charles has no excuse, no matter how you try to dress it up.

      • I wonder what made Mr Charles change so much that night then, to act so “out of character” as the judge described….and have that “second” of madness?

        I’m sorry but I don’t agree with people leaving hatred and sickening messages to anyone, no matter who they are. There are ways and means of going about things for me and being abusive isn’t one of them.

        • Are you going to visit Mr Charles in prison and tell him so? I think you are a little late. Or did you not really think about what you posted there? I would be interested to hear your comments regarding this.

        • So…………you wouldnt hit someone with a bottle then? I find it interesting, your hate for words, but acceptance of violence because of them?

      • We really need to see the CCTV footage leading up to the section shown by the media. This would also show mr sherriffs actions. In my opinion Ashley Charles only grabbed the bottle because his attempt to grab the phone failed. If he had any intent of causing harm he would have used the bottle already in his hand?

        • I do think that in cases like this the CCTV (and much more) should be available online after the trial. It’s easy to do nowadays and would reassure the public that justice was done. Or show that it wasn’t, as the case may be.

  25. Isn’t part of the problem the huge sentencing distinction between murder and manslaughter? The first has a mandatory life sentence with a starting point of 15 years for the least serious murder, whereas for the second, the sentence is ‘at large’ – any sentence can be handed (including one that doesn’t involve going to prison). Had Mr Charles been convicted of manslaughter he would have received a determinate sentence of maybe 10 years or less (see Thornley).

    Maybe it’s time that we scrapped the mandatory life sentence for murder? Or Have degrees of murder like some other jurisdictions?

    • I agree, varying rates of murder is a good idea. So when you intend to harm someone but the judge is satisfied you didn’t mean to kill a man, you get a lesser degree and therefor sentence.

      I was not saying that the jury hadn’t heard Mr Charles defence I was simply stating that the media; therefor the general public haven’t seen this.

    • I know Ashley. I have known him for 10 years. I have huge sympathy for Mrs Sherriff and must make it clear from the outset that I do not in any way condone what has happened. It is absolutely tragic and I do not in any way underestimate the impact on her and her family and friends. However, I KNOW 200% that Ashley did not act with intent to harm or kill. He lashed out after being provoked. I’m not saying that was right, it wasnt, it was a stupid reaction, but it was NOT an intent to kill and was not murder. He will I’m sure be prepared to take his punishmnet but he did not intend to kill. I am not saying this just because I am in his “fan club”. If I thought he had murdered and was “evil” , as he has been branded, I would not speak up, but that is not the case, and its time a small minority of us who really know him spoke up. What I have read in the press does not reflect the full story, only the prosecutions side of it. What I have seen on social media sites is a hate campaign by people who believe what they have read, maybe understandably. The campaign to ban glass is worthwhile but it also prejudged Ashley well before the trail which is unfair. The case has been sensationalised beyond belief. If he had “plunged” the bottle, why did Mr Sherriff not realise for a full minute? Was Ashley drunk ?- there is no record that he was. The police photo of Ashley is with several days unshaven, his eyes are red with remorse and sorrow. Even the public court record states that he was remorseful. As for his character – I can vouch that it is impeccable. He is kind, honest, intelligent and decent. He comes from a good hardworking family. He spoke the truth in court, and nothing but the truth.

      • Then I really do hope that the family of Mr Charles are considering an appeal and I really do hope that it’s not too late to see this case for what it is.

        • It would be interesting to know whether there will be an (application to) appeal, and if so, whether this is against conviction or sentene. The deadline for lodging it is (I think) today, so we may find out soon.

      • He didnt realise for a full minute because his blood pressure was dropping faster than a sack of sand from a motorway bridge. After a minute he fell to the floor. Ashley Charles is a liar.

        • Hi two bucks, you really should have wrote,
          In my opinion Ashley Charles is a liar. Unless you were there, standing next to them when it happened it can only be your opinion. The problem with this case is comments like yours were banded about before the trial even began. Everyone deserves a fair trial.
          The comments posted by SBH were from someone who obviously knows Ashley Charles and has done for a number of years, unless I’m mistaken you don’t know him. What concerns me in this case is that because someone died the prosecution couldn’t possibly be lieing???

  26. On the subject of online comments; could the comments on various sites by supporters of Mr Charles and how they think he has been unfairly sentenced be seen as an attempt to influence those involved with any appeal? If so should comments be allowed until it’s decided whether there is an appeal or not?

    There was balanced coverage of the trial in the media, I suppose tat supporters of Mr Charles can’t see that given the outcome.

    • The appeal (if there is one) would be heard by a panel of three – two High Court Judges and chaired by a Lord Justice of Appeal. The normal rules about publicity would not apply. The theory being that they are professional judges and are well able to put any such comments out of their minds.

      Also, they will have access to all the papers (which a jury would not have) and so there is far less of a risk of them being prejudiced by something that is read on the internet.

    • I think that’s more realistic for these fights etc that end in tradigy.
      I understand the victims family want the harshest outcome but should we be trying to help the living to pay for their mistake and still have a life. After all when one comes out of prison, would you employ a murderer ? Probably not, but manslaughter suggests that there was other circumstances involved. So maybe you woul employ

    • I think that’s more realistic for these fights etc that end in tradigy.
      I understand the victims family want the harshest outcome but should we be trying to help the living to pay for their mistake and still have a life. After all when one comes out of prison, would you employ a murderer ? Probably not, but manslaughter suggests that there was other circumstances involved. So maybe you would employ

      • In the case discussed here it was murder until any appeal proves otherwise, it would be good to remember that fact. Also worth remembering that this wasn’t the result of a fight by any stretch of the imagination.

      • No, not a fight in this case, but clearly something was going on? I wasn’t there so I don’t know!

  27. The judge in this case Paul Worsley told Mr Charles: “You took a life for no better than reason than that your victim may have pushed you at a crowded bar and made some inoffensive joking remarks to a girl who was talking to you”.

    It does not sound like the judge thought there was much of a ‘fight’ which led to the murder either; good character aside is 14 years sufficient for someone who turned violent with so little provocation? I don’t see a persons character should have any bearing on the sentence, after all the actions on that night came about despite his good character.

  28. This is not about who supports who but a debate where a group of people can, as I said previously ,air their views in a dignified manner. It is not about taking sides and it is sad that it is viewed that way when someone raises a fact that is questionable to others. @… you seem to feel this is a support group for Mr Charles, maybe it is merely the fact that you cannot and will not accept that there may possibly be another version of events. Your comments also have a great deal of inaccuracies, however you are correct on one thing, Mr Charles was tried and convicted of murder and served a sentence of life imprisonment, a minimum of 14 years. Do I think he intentionally killed Mr Sherriff, no I do not. Did the Judge say that he intentionally killed Mr Sherriff, no he did not. Maybe it would be good for YOU to remember that fact.

    • Was he convicted of murder by fair trial, yes, end of story, you may think he didn’t intentionally kill, but you will never actually know for sure will you? And yes, many of the comments here appear to be part of a Ashley Charles supporters club which is somewhat sad given his crime. Murder is abhorrent, suggesting someone should be given a light sentence who is found guilty of it in court is not something I agree with – you may like to see convicted murderers on the street after a couple of years inside, I would like them to serve a proper term.

  29. This is true, but you will never know for sure either will you ? I find it very immature of you to say that you feel that this appears to be part of an Ashley Charles Supporters club just because you do not agree with the comments. Maybe you are biased. You are right I would not like to see convicted murderers on the streets IF they had intentionally, and that is the key word here, gone out to deliberately kill someone. There are many many cases in this country where men and women have been victims of miscarriages of justice. The point that I am trying to make is there are two sides to every story and the media choose at times to only publish one, to their own advantage. And in regards to comments being made on “THAT” website, Mrs Sherriff herself had to ask people to refrain from posting on there in order not to jeopardise the trial, why would she have had to do that ? Maybe she had been advised, who knows ?

    • Maybe you could follow your own comment “air their views in a dignified manner” and not descend to the level of name calling.

      I’d be interested to know if you believe it was a fair trial, if not could you tell us your legal qualification and how you came to that conclusion.

      • Where is the name calling? The only name calling I can see is the “Ashley Charles Supporters Club”. Again, it goes back to my point that we are unable to give a view on this case without being accused of some sort of collusion. I find that to be very single minded.

    • One media source during the trial published…
      “Ashley Charles, 26, said Phillip Sherriff, 37, had become aggressive and abusive as the pair jostled for space at the concert’s free bar.
      Dad Mr Sherriff barged against him before phoning a friend and loudly discussing how they were going to ‘do’ him, the Old Bailey heard.
      Terrified Charles claimed he had then tried to stop the situation from escalating by grabbing a bottle of Becks from the victim’s hand.”

      You can hardly claim that was biased towards Mr Sherriff.

      There is indeed two sides to every story, the jury heard both sides before giving their verdict of guilty.

    • Except this is not a miscarriage of justice. This was murder of an innocent family man and the CCTV shows your Mr Charles killing him in cold blood with a bottle to the neck. (its the only way to to describe it – the jury thought so too) Hardly flirtation was it? As for “THAT” website, it is trying to achieve something good from something so dire. What are you trying to achieve? Its a fair question isnt it?

      • We are trying to achieve an open discussion about tariffs and how they are set…..aren’t we? That’s how all of this started. Which goes back to my earlier point about the case in the papers today…

  30. As you say they were ” claimed ” to be said by Mr Charles that is all, it didn’t stand by those words and it took the jury three days of deliberation to come to their decison, hardly cut and dry…………..

    • Actually you could say that after considerable deliberation taking into account all they heard and saw they still returned a guilty verdict. It wasn’t a quick decision, so you can say they took their time to discuss everything in detail. Why is this a problem to you?

      • It is not a problem to me in the least but it appears to a problem to yourself. I have given my opinion on the facts that I am aware of and you have given yours on the facts you are aware of. That is all.

      • No ruffled feathers here, I’m still curious as to whether you believe it was a fair trial or not.

    • Thank goodness they did take so long. It means that Charles has an extremely small chance of having his term reduced. Its a relief to know that people like him are locked away, surely for the rest of us? If he’d slapped him with a hand, fair do’s (even this is unacceptable) but a glass bottle to the neck? Extreme. He deserves the next 14 years to think about it.

      • I had no involvement in the case and nobody that I know was involved. It is always hard when someone dies and no-one is saying that Mr Charles is not guilty of homicide. Until I read any appeal judgment, I am happy to take the jury’s verdict that it was murder, but it does seem to me to be on the cusp of murder and manslaughter.

        The fact that the jury took a long time to convict almost certainly won’t have any impact on whether an appeal against sentence is successful.

        In all probability, Mr Charles will spent 16 or 17 years, if not more, in prison before he can be released. This will of course cost us a lot of money and there is a question of whether it is necessary? Once you remove the idea of revenge as punishment (and of course no sentence can undo what he has done) then I am of the view that a shorter tariff would have sufficed. This is not a criticism of the Judge necessarily, it’s what Parliament has directed.

        Can I ask whether you have any knowledge of the case other than the newspaper reports?

        • i do not have any inside knowledge of the case. Nor am I a relative or either party. I am just a member of the public who, like so many others is horrified by this whole incident. I for one would rather pay my taxes to keep an individual like this locked up for as long as possible. I cannot imagine my husband being stood at the bar in a pub, making a few minor comments and being murdered by an individual like this. The public need protecting from people like Ashley Charles, not debates on whether he meant to kill or not. Murder or Manslaughter is a tough call. But the victim is still dead. When Ashley Charles swung that bottle, he took away everything that Mr Sherriff was, and all he was every going to be. Its common sense and for once, the legal system used it. This is not someone who drank alcohol and mounted the kerb while driving a vehicle. This was someone who knowingly took a glass bottle from someone and aimed it at the most vulnerable area on their body. The sentence should have been more than 14 years.

          • It is always horrible of course to imagine this happening to a loved one. It could be said that if this was a ‘moment of madness’ then it is horrible too for Mr Charles and his family.

            There is a huge difference between murder and manslaughter because of the different intent. Nothing that is done to Mr Charles will bring Mr Sherriff back, or ease the pain of his family. The question then is how Mr Charles is dealt with. Why do you say it should be more than 14 years? What do you think the tariff should have been? The guidelines on sentencing for murder is here – I guess you think that they are wrong? How would you re-write them?

          • Mr Bunting, I would like to be clear on a “moment fo maddness”. Last year, I went out with the girls, got horribly drunk and maxed my credit card. It was a moment of maddness Im still paying for! My friend also had a “moment of maddness” and slept with another friends partner. (Not on the same day, i may add). There are lots of examples of a “Moment of Maddness”. Ashley Charles did not have one of these. He had a moment of pure evil. It is not my place to re-write the law, however, I would prefer Ashley Charles and the like to stay in prison as long as possible. I would not like to be in his company should he have another reason to “flapp out”. Charles’ relatives with have to live with what he did, just as Mr Sherriffs family do. They are all innocent victims of Charles, who, like the rest of us, had choices. He chose to act in this manner and killed a man. Recently, we have seen people imprissoned for the sake of “words”. But are we to believe that its acceptable to die for a few “words” too? I dont think so and neither did the jury.

          • No one is saying that what he did was acceptable, or that it can ever be acceptable to have (let alone kill someone) over a few words).

            The Judge who sentenced him accepted that there was no intention to kill him, no premeditation, and he did not deliberately smash the bottle. I think that it is hard to categorise that as a moment of pure evil.

            You say that “It is not my place to re-write the law, however, I would prefer Ashley Charles and the like to stay in prison as long as possible” – what length of tariff would you want? How would you distinguish between different murders?

          • I think the question here Mr Bunting is why would you want him to serve less? We hear all too often how someone is released from prison early and goes on to do the same thing. Wheres the protection for the public here? If this had happened to you can you honestly see yourself asking these questions? Ask the victims wife or better still, her husband – I’ll just remind you he is no longer here. This was not an accident. Nor was it manslaughter. I’ll agree with you that Charles did not set out to kill someone that night, but any fool knows if you forcefully aim glass at someones throat theres a very good chance you will. Ashley Charles had, at that second when he hit mr Sherriff, lost all sense of reason. Its this reason that makes him a very dangerous person and should be kept away from the rest of us for as long as possible. In my life I have been very drunk several times. I dare say Ive lost my temper on a few occasions too. But its my sense of reason which keeps me from doing what Ashley Charles did, it would not even occur to most people to do something like this. I would very much like to know which end of the bottle hit Mr Sherriff. This has a bearing on matters. Do you have any information on this?

          • I want him to serve the right amount of time to ‘fit the crime’ and then be released when it is safe to release him, so he can make a contribution to the community.

            We have emailed the Judicial Office to get the sentencing remarks so that we can see more details about the offence. We will put these if up if we get them.

            If this happened to someone that I cared for then I obviously would not be as objective about it and I would want revenge. But criminal cases are prosecuted by public prosecutors, in the name of the public, to give that objectivity.

          • Exactly, you would want revenge. It doesnt make it any less horriffic and it shouldnt be made any less serious because it has not happened to you. It has not happened to me either and I dont know either party of their families. What I do know, is for myself and my own family and other like us, its a little safer without the “Charles’s” of this world. This case seems to have “slipped” through the net, so to speak. A seemingly straightforward case of manslaughter and maybe 4 years in prison has been seen as murder and has ended in a 14 year term. Maybe defence teams are now worried about how they are going to get their clients “off” with a short term and make less money. Well, Im sorry to say, that for most of us its a welcome change. Maybe its about time that people like Charles need to be aware that getting drunk and loosing their temper and killing someone will possibly now be seen as murder and “goodbye vienna” for a very long time. Lets look at it another way. Mr Charles would have probably found himself on the receiving end of a damn good punch on the nose, had he pushed it so far with some men, but Philip Sherriff was not agressive enough to do this. If he had been, both of them would probably been at home with their families now.

          • I agree that it shows the tragedy that can come from a decision made in seconds. I’m not sure if the world is ‘safer’ to be honest.

            It is not at all uncommon for cases such as this to be charged as murder and go to trial. In terms of what you say about money, I don’t know the exact financial details here, but it is likely that the defence would not have made more money (or at least that much more money) from a trial.

            It is a tragedy all round.

  31. I am airing my views in a dignified manner it appears to be yourself who’s feathers are becoming ruffled. You are losing touch of this blog. I am entitled to give my opinion as are you.

    • How can I answer that question if I wasn’t there ? Based on the evidence presented in the media as I keep saying, I believe it to be one sided.

      • Interesting. So your earlier comment “do I think he intentionally killed Mr Sherriff, no I do not.” Is based only on the ‘biased’ media reports that you’ve read. It could be said you are guessing merely on gut instinct and know very little about the case at all in reality.

      • I meant to ask whether you had check the reporting in all the media or just a selection.


        We’re lucky in this country to have a pretty reliable justice system, where those going to jail in the main are guilty of their crimes. So, did Mr Charles receive a fair trial, well there’s no evidence at all to suggest otherwise, the fact of the matter is both sides were allowed to present their case to a fairly selected jury. The jury considered both these cases and found him guilty of murder. If you doubt this method of trial then do you doubt the verdicts of all trials in this country?
        Given that it was a fair trial and Mr Charles convicted of murder, then 14 years is not a sufficient minimum term (which was essentially the question asked in the blog), the term should reflect the crime and murder should equal life inside in my opinion. Post trial media coverage can hardly be a sound basis to start doubting any conviction.

  32. In America it is common for many more court documents to be made available than here. For example, in the appeallate courts it is not just the judgments, but also transcripts and/or recordings of the oral arguments and all the ‘pleadings. I’m not sure about trials, but I think that it is similar.

    Would it not be so much better for all of us if the written documents (defence statements, skeleton arguments for legal arguments and, in certain cases, possibly witness statements) were in the public domain? Should the tapes of the trial be put on the internet in high profile cases? There could be safeguards for children and vulnerable witnesses and a Judge could rule that some or all of it should not be released? After all, that is what anyone who attended the trial (and all the hearings would have been open to the public) would have heard, so it is in the public domain.

    If that was done we would all be in a much better position to comment?

    • I’d like to see all information made available following a trial and see no reason why it can’t be done digitally these days.

    • I think you are absolutely right. Then all the statements could be heard, all the evidence could be seen without media attention possibly influencing the public’s views. I believe we would all be able to make more constructive comments based on the facts we have actually been presented with. At the moment we can only comment on our own individual view and perception of events.

  33. It would seem a reasonable way forward, particularly as the British public have to rely on information reported in the media and, of course, it would help form a more honest and open debate on cases.

    I do think the system of having a jury is arguable. Yes, its good in that it gives the opportunity for citizens of this country to influence law but you only have to have one leader on a jury, one person that has the ability to influence others and the initial thoughts and feelings of the others could be completely overturned. I also struggle to understand how a fair verdict can be reached if there is no-one present on the jury that understands law. Maybe you can confirm whether measures are taken to overcome this.

    • I would object to any suggestion that we move away from a jury system.

      A jury should be free to discuss a case without being monitored or influenced by a legal representative.

      Has your problem with the jury system been a long term one or a more recent issue?

  34. I think that we are slowly moving towards that … but it will take a while.

    @fairandsquare1 – I am a fan of juries, but that is based more on instinct than evidence. They are directed on the law and nowadays these are fairly standardised. In almost all cases this is more than enough (I think) for juries to work out the facts and then apply it to the law to come to a fair result.

    I do think however that there should be a lot more research done into juries – how they work and, more importantly, whether they do actually work. At the moment, the Contempt of Court Act precludes any research into how juries decide cases and that is (in my view) wrong. Whilst I believe in juries, I believe in evidence more and given that this is the system that we are using to send people to prison, sometimes for many years, we should have the courage of our convictions to test that this is the best way.

    • I think jury’s are important, but I personally believe that they should be joined by a small minority of professionals.
      General public could be easily swayed by Facebook / twitter / the sun! I think there should be someone to ensure that sentencing is decided upon by the evidence not speculation.

      I don’t think the general consensus I that jury’s make too many incorrect choices. After all no one here is saying that Mr Charles didn’t kill this man- it’s clear that he did. But what is being said is; that did he mean to do it and therefore should it have been manslaughter??

  35. @Dan Bunting – thank you for the clarity on the jury process and how it works. In terms of this particular case, in your opinion, do you think it possible that the media attention given to this (because of where it took place) had an influence on the sentence given? Could it be suggested that the Facebook page supporting the banning of glasses, with 65,000 followers at the time of the trial, could have influenced both the jury and the judge’s decision, particularly as it discussed the trial on its site and made abusive comments towards Mr Charles, while the trial was in progress? Also, what measures would the judge have taken to ensure that none of the jury members were followers of that particular campaign or accessing that site while the trial was in progress?

    What I am saying is, if this case was less high profile, would the jury have felt more comfortable in giving a manslaughter charge.
    I know its a difficult call and something none of us will never know but I am just interested in your thoughts on this.

    • As mentioned before there were a number of abusive posts towards Mr Sherriff during the trial is that fair? He wasn’t able to defend his actions in court. The online comments regarding trials are similar to comments you’d probably hear down the pub, comments that have been made for decades in regards serious crime.

      The reporting during the trial was fairly balanced and often focused on b list celebrities, it would be difficult to see how that could influence anyone. Perhaps you should hold the justice system in a higher regard than something which could be influenced by media coverage.

      • As previously asked, where are these abusive comments towards Mr Sherriff? I can honestly say that I have not seen any on sites that I’ve browsed. It concerns me that you would accept that the comments made in relation to Mr Charles on the Facebook page are pub talk. If I heard any of those comments, in particular those that made vile suggestions about what should happen to him in prison, I would walk away, regardless of who it was. The fact that the wife of Mr Sherriff had to request that people refrained from making those comments, on the site, during the trial, comfirms that there were inappropriate comments made. The fact that you see it as pub talk raises questions to me about your credibility.

        We are debating the justice system, not questioning its regard. I’m sure if Mr Charles had received a manslaughter verdict, you would be asking for clarity on the process too.

    • Out of curiosity how much time did you spend during the trial waiting for comments to appear online, and did you do so as a means to question the outcome of the trial, the integrity of the jury, and the judge.

    • Sorry for the delay – been caught up in my day job!

      I think that it’s certainly true that Judges are much more able to put comments on the internet out of their mind (if they even monitor facebook).

      There are plenty of safeguards in place to direct the jury to not undertake their own research and are given directions in relation to publicity (we will have some factsheets up on this soon), and jurors have been sent to prison for not complying with this.

      There is a ‘Benchbook’ for Crown Court Judges that contains guidance as to what directions should be given and this is worth a read (the section on ‘Jury Management’ is Chapter 18 – p.377).

      One of the problems of the bar on jury research is that we do not know how they come to their decisions.

    • It’s very relevant if you’re questioning the integrity of the judge and jury.

      I never saw comments like you suggest were made, but then I don’t spend all my time reading the internet.

      The negative commentary towards both parties are not needed, or acceptable but I can’t see how they’d influence anyone.

      • ” I visited that page during trial, however I only ever saw links to media sites which were reporting on the case. I did see a number of comments online made by friends of Mr Charles during the trial yet you make no mention of those.”

        If you do not spend all your time reading the internet then how do you explain your knowledge of Mr Charles friends supposedly making comments. ?

  36. The questions were directed at Dan Bunting for his opinion. If you took my questions to mean that I am questioning the integrity of the judge and the jury, then that is entirely up to you. I have no further comment until Dan responds.

    • “The questions were directed at Dan Bunting for his opinion.”

      So you are not wanting an open discussion then?

      The judge in this case has over 40 years legal experience, do you really imagine he would be influenced by comments which appeared for a brief period on a social media site? Comments you say which were more directed towards what should happen to Mr Charles in prison and not in regards to the trial itself.

      For the record I would never make nor condone comments which promote the abuse of prisoners, if found guilty they should spend their time in jail free from fear of abuse or mistreatment.

      • ” Interesting. So your earlier comment “do I think he intentionally killed Mr Sherriff, no I do not.” Is based only on the ‘biased’ media reports that you’ve read. ”

        I didn’t say I read them………..

      • I would say with regards to comments influencing the judge. This is not the issue. The problem is that social media sites can influence a jury. In this case a blackberry employee at a blackberry event was involved, constantly reported as a Jessie j gig. It was difficult not to see the campaign which was started to use plastic bottles, this linked mr sherriff in name to a bottle stop campaign way before anyone entered a court room.

        • There was a lecture the other day at the Old Bailey that said that research showed 25% of jurors use the internet to look at cases that they are dealing with…will try and find the study online.

  37. @Hope21 How do you know newspapers have been biased or economical with the truth if you don’t read them?

  38. I didn’t say I didn’t read them I merely said I didn’t read the comments that the judge made, I was aware of them via another source.

  39. @Dan Bunting, How much is actually monitored with jurors ? Are jurors sent home whilst still deliberating and I’m referring to any case not just this one. Are they still allowed access to the internet etc.? That would be interesting to know, how are they prevented from accessing information possibly related to a trial, or are they not ?

    I think very good points have been raised regarding jurors maybe not having a clear understanding of the law especially when dealing with high profile cases. Even though it would be fully explained to them what their options are in making their decision, do they all fully understand it ? What are your views ?

    • The jury bailiff is responsible for keeping the jury in some safe place to carry out their deliberations. Juries are sent home while they are deliberating and each day are given the same warnings by the judge relating to conducting their own research into the case, discussing the case with others and discussing the case without all 12 members present.

      They are allowed to access the Internet; the prohibition is against conducting research into the case and there would be nothing gained by banning jurors from using the Internet completely. Their mobile phones etc. are confiscated from them each morning and returned each evening.

      I don’t think that high profile cases are more complex per se, but certainly the warnings relating conducting research at home, talking to others and reading information in the press is certainly more pertinent. There was an issue with an article written by the journalist Rod Liddle for the Spectator – it had divulged information that was not before the jury. The jury were not discharged as the judge was satisfied at no member of the jury had seen it.

      I think that juries are generally intelligent enough to grasp the law as explained to them by the judge. After all, what good is a criminal lawyer if he cannot break down the law to a level that a jury can understand?

      • “I think that juries are generally intelligent enough to grasp the law as explained to them by the judge. After all, what good is a criminal lawyer if he cannot break down the law to a level that a jury can understand?”

        That to me is the advantage of our jury system and why it works so well, the system has worked successfully for many years now without there being any need or requirement for major change. I can understand there being interest in how a jury reaches a particular verdict, but I’d be reluctant to see the jury being monitored and every word of a debate recorded.

        • If juries were monitored, would some be reluctant to reach the verdict they might otherwise have reached? Imagine a gang case in which defendants face serious criminal charges and potentially very lengthy periods of custody. Would you be as comfortable reaching a guilty verdict on a particular basis if you knew your deliberations and the reasons for your verdict had to be explained?

      • Thank you for your clarification.

        What is your opinion on whether a case could be discussed, even though prohibited, with family, friends etc? Could a jurors decision be influenced based on a third party’s view even though the evidence has not been presented to them as it would be to a juror in court?

        • A case should never be discussed with friends or family during the trial. The contents of the jury’s discussions can never be revealed.

          The reason that jurors may not discuss cases with non-jurors is because they must decide the case on the evidence before them in court. It would be unfair is one juror has more information than the others, and it would be wrong for people who have not heard all the evidence and the warnings given by the judge to give their opinion on the case-a jury is made up of 12, not 12 and someone’s mum or girlfriend.

    • I was left with more questions than answers from the Daily Mail report on the conviction of Ashley Charles from the murder of “telecom boss” Philip Sheriff. It seems ludicrous to suggest that it is not highly antagonistic and inflammatory to say”She doesn’t want to be talking to you. She’d much rather be talking to me, wouldn’t you love?” to a man at a bar with a woman. The remarks are certainly not “inoffensive joking remarks” as they were supposedly described by the judge. Ashley Charles had no previous convictions and was, apparently, remorseful from the start. He has been convicted for murder with a minimum of fourteen years in prison. I thought that was the sort of sentence given for pre meditated murder. It is tragic that Philip Sheriff has lost his life and it is tragic that Ashley Charles was unable to legislate over the emotions generated by whatever happenedand became a mindless thug. There seems little discussion on what caused Ashley Charles to take the action he took. A tragic waste of lives from a bar brawl. People who have spent a lifetime being cruel and violent have been given lesser sentences than Ashley Charles so he is paying a high price for his inability to walk away. All that concerns me is that justice is done and justice includes the clarification that if these were the remarks made they were neither inoffensive or joking.

      • The reports in the Daily Mail don’t tell the full story so using it as a basis to say someone has been unfairly sentenced is not really advisable.

    • You commented on the length of sentence a number of times which made it look like you thought 14 years was too high. So you think this term correct then?

    • “The only true thing printed in a newspaper is the date”

      You’re comment the other day, yet now you make no comment that someone used one newspaper article to question aspects of the case. Any particular reason for this, is it that you only complain and moan when someone posts a comment that does not support yours?

    • That’s a fair point…I had t thought of that. I’ve seen cases where men have tortured kids and killed them and done less than 14 years! I’ll google the particular case I’m thinking of; but its true, premeditated cold blood killing would get the same sentence

      • This article begins with the word innocuous to desribe the argument that started the events.The word innocuous means “Not likely to offend or provoke strong emotion”. The judge described the remarks as “inoffensive and joking”. For any discussion about the fairness of a sentence there must be discussion about the fact that in this trial there has been incorrect language in the description of the cause of Ashley Charles actions. The remarks did in fact engender strong emotion so the argument was not innocuous and it is offensive and no joke at all for someone to say “”She does not want to be talking to you. She’d much rather be talking to me, wouldn’t you love?” The fact that the judge described the remarks as “innoffensive and joking” makes me question the trial and sentence.

      • @Fair, have you considered that any words spoken to Mr Charles at that point could have led to him bottling Mr Sherriff? Maybe at that point the actual words were irrelevant?

  40. @ Dan Bunting – are we saying that there is no requirement for a jury to document there reasons for reaching a verdict? They reach their decision and that’s it, free to go?

    One other thing I want to throw in. The judge stated that Charles acted “out of character”. Assuming that Charles has otherwise been a decent man and led a crime free life, and media reports certainly suggest this, do you think he will leave prison a better person, after 14 years, than when he arrived? Time in prison is surely about rehabilitation back into society as well as punishment for breaking the law , of course. Should consideration be given to the fact that some may need less rehabilitation than others, when considering the sentence?

    • That’s exactly the position. They come back and say ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ without explanation. Whilst I think the jury system works, I can see how some people think that that lack of reasons can be unfair.

      I (personally) agree with your comments about rehabilitation. There are very few people that come out of prison better than when they went in.

      ‘Lifers’ as they are called are in a different category, but for people serving shorter sentences there is a general lack of funds which leads to too little rehabilitation in my view.

      • Some people have suggested that juries should be given a list of questions to be answered, tailored to the case (eg do you believe X? Are you sure Y said such and such?).

        Do you think that that would be fairer?

        • Juries are sometimes given what is called a ‘steps to verdict’ document. This includes a series of questions (with accompanying directions about the law) which the jury must answer in order to reach a verdict. The purpose of the document is to help clarify the issues for the jury in complex cases and attempts to avoid a verdict on a false or incorrect basis. The questions are phrased in an open form (non-leading) and are agreed upon by all counsel.

    • Isn’t a first offense always out of character? Would it matter to the victim if Mr Charles had killed before, the outcome is stil the same for him.

      Actually that is as good a reason as any for lengthy jail terms for murdering someone, they are not allowed back on the street to reoffend as its now ‘in character’.

      • A first offence is “out of charector” this is true. But from being an honest, hardworking and having a really good job, to murder is a mighty big step. If Mr Charles knew his victim, he’d attacked him because of personal reason- I could understand the murder aspect.
        I clearly don’t know the difference between manslaughter and murder clearly!!

  41. Let’s remember that Mr Charles is 26 years old. Surely criminal behaviour, in most cases and I certainly don’t mean all, stems from childhood and becomes apparent in teenage years and so on. Its these cases when rehabiliation is important and the sentence should reflect this. However, I acknowledge that there are other reasons for rehabilitation.

    It must be pretty rare for somebody like Mr Charles to find themselves in this position, given his age and background, from an altercation with somebody he had never met before.

    In terms of the role of a jury, I agree in that a set of questions could send the jury down another path and not reach a verdict based on their own instinct. However, I do feel that the jury should be made up people with certain specialisms with the remainder being representative of the majority of people in this country, whatever that might be. Those specialisms should include law and pyschology in an area that relates to that particular case.

    A “steps to verdict” I agree with, providing it is factual and based on the principles of law. But I wonder why this is used in some cases and not others?

    • The steps to verdict is generally used in more complicated cases. We’ve just posted a piece on jury selection – who sits on juries. We will have some more background material on juries over the weekend.

      In relation to sentence, as you say – someone who has got to the age of 26 is either a very good criminal or this is very out of character. Here, I think it’s clear that it’s the latter. I’m not sure how much need for rehabilitation there is for him?

  42. I wonder how much commentary the jail term would’ve generated if Mr Charles were an unemployed youth from an ethnic minority who was raised in a broken home on the wrong side of the track (as the saying goes).

    The rehabilitation is important, however they are inside as a punishment for their crime first and foremost.

    At the end of the day being of good character didn’t stop Mr Charles killing someone.

      • So you believe it would have been a fair tariff for some unemployed chap who was from an ethnic minority and a broken home? Any particular reason?

  43. I believe a tariff should be the same for anyone regardless of their background. Not regardless of their crime. You said IF Mr Charles was an unemployed chap from an ethnic minority and a broken home would it generate the same commentary regarding the jail term and I merely said he isn’t from that background. Should someone who has had no previous convictions and never been arrested before serve the same tariff as someone who has always been on the wrong side of the law?

    I still go back to the debate of whether he intentionally set out to kill Mr Sherriff and I do not believe he did, therefore I do not believe he should serve such a lengthy sentence as a murder that was pre-meditated. I am not saying Mr Charles did not hit out at him, what I am saying is I do not believe he intended to kill him.

    • Yet there are comments which cite his background as if it should matter in regards his tariff.

      As to his intent that night only he really knows for sure, and let’s be honest its very rare for someone convicted of murder to change their plea or admit guilt once they’re jailed.

  44. When I make reference to Mr Charles’s background, I make no mention of his colour and status. From your statement as follows: “I wonder how much commentary the jail term would’ve generated if Mr Charles were an unemployed youth from an ethnic minority who was raised in a broken home on the wrong side of the track (as the saying goes)”, it can be said that you know that Mr Charles is not from a broken home, on the wrong side of the track. Which leaves me to assume that you have access to information that others on here are not party to.

    It was reported in the media that Mr Charles had no previous convictions and no history of violence. For this to be in the media, it must have been raised in court. Therefore, this part of his background was significant enought to be heard by the jury. Maybe this was one of the reasons the jury took three days to reach a verdict

    We know what Mr Charles did that night. The question here is how much intention was there, from Mr Charles, to kill the man before him. When Mr Charles took that swipe, how much intention was there to sever an artery. Had Mr Sherriff been injured and not killed (and I say this with respect to Mr Sherriff), it could be argued that the intention from Mr Charles was the same but the verdict and sentencing could have been very different.

    • I have the same information as everyone else, that which is in the public domain, what other information do you suppose people have?

      To the question of intent, it is quite possible that as Mr Charles became agitated during the confrontation that he decided there and then to kill Mr Sherriff. I don’t believe he went to London with the idea of killing someone or that he even went to the club that night with intent. But at some point as far as I’m concerned anyway he decided to kill which is why he broke the bottle and used it as a weapon. I have of course no evidence that this was his intent, it’s just how I see the murder. I also draw attention to the fact that after the attack Mr Charles tried to run, if you’d injured someone by accident would it not be more likely you would try and help them?

      • This is the most sensible comment I have read on this debate. It may have been out of character for Ashley Charles to behave like this, however, he decided to aim for one of the most vulnerable areas of Philip Sherriff with a glass bottle, it was obviously going to cause damage. “Flapping out” as Mr Charles calls it is not an acceptable excuse for grabbing a bottle from someone and using it in the way he did. Most people would have to be seriously in fear of their lives or maybe even close to death to behave in this manner. The demeanour of Ashley Charles, squaring up to Philip Sherriff inches from his face does not put Charles in this “Im fearing for my life right now” category.

    • On the subject of a persons character, if all this is based on on is previous convictions then would it not be the case that the majority of murders in this country are carried out by persons of good character and therefore a persons character can be taken out of the equation when a jury deliberates and sentence decided?

      • Did you read somewhere that he tried to run away?? I only read that he moved away from Mr Sherriff, then someone wrestled him to the ground

      • I’m not sure what the figures show for that question, but it is an interesting one. I personally don’t think that it would be right to ignore the fact that someone has never been in trouble before. The jury has to be told that the fact that someone has not been in trouble before means that they are generally less likely to be breaking the law and more likely to tell the truth. It seems to me that both of those are correct.

        Also, the fact that someone has no history of offending seems to me to be a ‘mitigating factor’ in that they are not a serial offender and can be treated more leniently.

      • If a person’s character were of no meaning then why are character references presented in court ?

  45. I read that a witness saw him walking away with a look of panic on his face. I haven’t seen anything to say he ran away. If Mr Charles’s intention was to kill Mr Sherriff, why would be have a panic stricken look on his face so soon afterwards? When wrestled to the ground, he immediately asked if Mr Sherriff was ok and then said that he had made a stupid mistake. Both indicate that he showed immediate remorse.

    • One comment said ‘moving away’ so why should he be trying to leave if was so concerned for the victims welfare?

    • Had Ashley Charles been able to leave without being caught, would he still have asked how the victim was? My guess is no, he would not.

  46. I’ve looked and commented on some of the information you have uploaded on how a jury works. I found it very useful, thank you. Good luck with the Office of Judiciary on the sentencing remarks in relation to the case of Ashley Charles. Hopefully, we will get an update on that soon.

  47. I don’t think that anyone has forgotten that Mr Sherriff has died. Obviously no sentence will bring him back and it is then a question of what factors are relevant in terms of sentencing:
    1) Rehabilitation
    2) Punishment
    3) Deterrence
    4) Protection of the Public

    And in what weight each carries.

    It is interesting to compare with other offences, such as the paedophile mentioned by people above as well as other murder tariffs – do we have our sentencing in proportion?

    Also, compare it with other countries – in the rest of Western Europe (most of which has a lower crime rate than the UK) where Mr Charles would have received a much lower sentence?

    • In relation to the factors listed on your comments it is clear that a sentence can only be justified as punishment in this case. Ashley Charles is still alive but lives with the fact that someone has died because he didn’t walk away when being provoked not only verbally but the real threats made on that mobile phone. Why else would he try and grab it, not once but twice.
      It’s hard for mrs sherriff and her family to accept that this was all started by comments made by mr sherriff in some attempt to chat a women up, I can understand that but what I find totally disgusting and unacceptable is the many number of people who have never spoken to Ashley and are using bottle stop via Facebook to place threats, vengeance and hatred towards him. Mrs sherriff has allowed this to happen from the start and it continues now. The day after the trial she appeared in the sun news paper, the lowest of the low, not to promote bottle stop but for her own satisfaction this followed by tv appearances where plastic bottles were hardly mentioned.
      Ashley Charles family have remained dignified throughout and will continue to do so, I can’t say the same for everyone.

  48. No, I don’t think we do have our sentencing in proportion and I think the outcome of Mr Charles’s trial evidences this. Had a weighting been applied which included the areas above, I don’t believe Mr Charles would have received the lengthy sentence that he is now having to come to terms with, to add to the remorse he already has for the mistake he made that night.

    I don’t think anyone wins here. A man has lost his life and another’s has been ruined by a “moment of madness”. It was ruined the second after he swiped at Mr Sherriff. It was ruined without the 14 years sentence.

  49. With regards to witnesses.
    When there is an incident in a pub or club are witnesses required to be breathalysed and are statements required at that time? I would have doubts that people that have been drinking could be called on as reliable witnesses. What also worries me in this case is that when the police appealed for witnesses they described it as an unprovoked attack. I thought in law we are innocent until proven guilty. It seems that the police are only really interested in a conviction however possible.

      • I think the other point here is that the victim was sold as a decent, family man who died in a terrible way. I’m not doubting that either of these points are true but nobody wants to know about the character of Mr Charles, instead assuming that he is some sort of mad murderer, because a “decent” man died in a horrible way. Mr Charles’s family have not had the opportunity to talk about Mr Charles and yet he too could be a decent, family man, most certainly with no previous convictions on his side. I wasn’t in court but I’m sure that much time was spent on the injury Mr Sherriff sustained and how he suffered. Does understanding the injury and how Mr Sherriff died really further confirm the point that Mr Charles set out to murder him? I don’t think so…….but it does allow the jury to sustain pity and further support the case for Mr Sherriff.

        • I would imagine that mr Charles family would not have felt the need to speak up publicly. Good, genuine, reasonable people would expect the law to be fair to all parties involved. From what I have read everyone sworn in, in that court room was telling the truth apart from Ashley Charles??? Witnesses that came to mr sherriffs assistance couldn’t possibly be lieing under oath, and let’s not forget that the police were looking for witnesses for a reported unprovoked attack! It’s very worrying when someone is arrested they may have to plead guilty and hope for a fair sentence rather than tell the truth, with honest belief and face a jury with preconceived opinions picked up from the press, social media sites and the police! From the very beginning how did the police arrive at the charge of attempted murder?

          • According to press quotations Mr Sheriff told the woman Ashley Charles was with that she would rather be with him. He was then talking more on the phone that Charles was trying to take presumably to stop him saying whatever he was saying. If he made antagonistic remarks at the bar I would like to know what he went on to say in the the phone that drove Mr Charles to lose it. If he wanted to kill him he would not be trying to grab a phone. He wanted to silence him not kill him. It is words that started this sequence of tragic events. And instead if describing them as innocuous or joking it would be a good idea to acknowledge how dangerous words can be. Vengeance is no way to make things right.

          • Good point. So is it the police that decide what a person is charged with and if so, how do they come to their decision and at which point do they reach their decision? Does the defendant’s solicitor have any input to this, after hearing what the defendant has to say and the evidence? Does the defendant’s view have any influence on the charge that the police pursue?

          • It’s a complicated issue and depends on the charge and other factors. In practice, on a murder case, there will be discussion between the Police and the CPS and a senior CPS figure would decided to charge. Whilst the defence can make representations to the police, it is largely an academic exercise in a case such as this.

    • No. A jury can find a lesser verdict (if allowed to by a Judge), they are not allowed to find someone guilty of a more serious charge, and Murder is more serious than Manslaughter.

      • Why were the police allowed to say that they were appealing for witnesses for an unprovoked attack? This was incorrect and would effect any potential witnesses judgement. Would any potential witnesses coming forward to the police in support of Ashley Charles get their voice heard or would they be told that the police would be in touch if needed? How can we be 100% sure that witnesses judgement has not been effected by alcohol drank that evening and comments made by the press, social media sites campaigning and the police. It has really opened my eyes to what goes on and how vulnerable you can become in the judicial system.

  50. Murder (to me) is if he had gone to the bar with the intention of killing his victim. No only was the bottle smashed by accident, the action of the defendant was irrational. This should have been manslaughter with a 4-8 year jail term, maximum. Do we really think as a society that this person will re-commit even if he was released after 2 years?

    • Yes it is a very sad case and seems to be more about revenge than justice. Without the intent it is hard to see how a jury could come to this conclusion. In cases like this we really need a panel of judges as the jury rather than members of the public with possibly no back ground in criminal law. Now that social media sites are so common place information can be obtained without necessarily being the whole truth. The saying innocent until proven guilty is a thing of the past. I worry for anyone that pleads not guilty with honest belief as they will be judged by a jury with preconceived opinions taken from the press, social media sites and the police.

      • I think if he had demonstrated more remorse for the victim and not himself, the tariff could have been manslaughter. I feel that much of the tariff was punishment and tough justice than any fair assessment of intent and future re-offending. Its astonishing how much sympathy the victim’s wife is getting, especially for her ‘Bottle Stop’ campaign, based on a purely emotional response to the crime.

        • The question over remorse seemed to stem from comments made by the officer involved with the arrest and charge of ashley Charles. To say mr Charles had no remorse for mr sherriff is shameful. We look to these people to act professionally, they should be fair and honest. Please believe me when I say that I know ashley is remorseful for the events of that evening, a more compassionate man you would find it hard to find. When your charged with something that is not true how are you expected to be? Your first time ever questioned by the police how would anyone be?

      • It’s all very sad. Mr Charles and Mr Sherif were clearly arguing at the bar that night. Mr Charles said that Mr Sherif was making very nasty comments and arranging something on his phone. Unfortunately Mr Charles lashed out because he was being intimidated and it all went terribly wrong. I’m sure Mr Charles understands he should be punished for what happened, but not jailed for 14 years that was unintentional. Unfortunately, people will take sides because Mr Sherif died from his injury. Ashley Charles has never been in trouble in his life, has no records of aggression, this is all very sad.

  51. What evidence is there to suggest that Ashley Charles only showed remorse for himself. This all seems to be based on a comment made, to the press, after the trial, by a metropolitan police officer outside court. Again it goes to show how the media/press have influenced the public on their views of Mr Charles. In my view, it was a very flippant comment to make from someone with that degree of professionalism. I hope he has the evidence to support it.

    The truth of the matter is, Ashley Charles had a heavy sentence looming as soon as he took the action he did. Not because of what he did and how he went about it but because of where he was and the hype that followed it.

    • There is no evidence that Ashley Charles showed no remorse for mr sherriff because that was simply a statement made by the police to try and justify a guilty verdict. The police/cps know that this was never a murder charge. It was two days after the incident when he was charged with attempted murder! For that charge you need intent to kill, that was never present. They also asked for witnesses to come forward for an unprovoked attack, again not true. They also described it as man stabbed in the neck, again incorrect. What they failed to mention is that when Ashley Charles approached that bar mr sherriff decided to try and impress a women who was already talking to Ashley Charles. Ashley turned and ignored him but for this mr sherriff pushed him in the back. As comments exchanged mr sherriff became abusive and threatening. He then pretended to make a call, a call that became a real threat to Ashley Charles and the trigger that made him feel in imminent danger. When he reached for that phone but failed to stop that call he panicked, grabbing the bottle and when he flapped out he did not realise that it had come into contact with something and broken. I think the public should be shown the CCTV footage from when ashley Charles approached the bar,not just a selected section. I also think the transcripts from the court should be printed in the press, then people could see the whole picture.

      • “There is no evidence that Ashley Charles showed no remorse for mr sherriff”

        There’s not a shred of evidence to show that he had any remorse for anyone but himself, only his family and friends claim he showed remorse, but perhaps they’re a little biased.

        • T – And only those who are in support of the deceased are claiming that Mr Charles only showed remorse for himself. Again, biased.

          Mancunian – I am amazed that you are “amazed by my lack of understanding about the legal system”. After all, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. I have never attended a court in my life and I am not a solicitor, lawyer, barrister….. I’m not sure why you would assume otherwise.

  52. Yes The argument is described in the intro here as innocuous. It was not innocuous and many descriptions have trivialised the actions and words that led to the disastrous outcome. Instead of emphasising the danger of antagonistic words so at the very least people might learn something the words and actions that made Ashley Charles snap have been described as joking or innocuous. Ashley Charles should pay for his actions but the sentence is far too long. It was neither an unprovoked or premeditated attack. He is no more a danger to society than any bloke who gets antagonised at a bar and I resent having to pay for him to be incarcerated for so long. The bloke that mowed down and killed my friends young daughter because he was speeding without his glasses on got 4 years and they were not fixed at that. It was a catastrophic loss of self control at a bar. Perhaps Blackberry should take its customers to something more constructive than a booze fuelled pop concert in a crushing recession.

    • Yes, a loss of control triggered by verbal abuse and very real physical threats. The fake phone call threatening violence against Ashley Charles was a very real, visual attack and he would have felt in imminent danger. Should have walked away? How many men or women would? If he had any intent on hurting mr sherriff he would have used the bottle already in his hand. This was an instantaneous reaction to provocation and physical threats.

      • There is no evidence for the alleged threats other than Charles’ statement. It cannot be said that they were ‘very real’. It can only be said that Charles’ described these ‘threats’ some time after the night in question. They were not mentioned in his initial statements to police. I think the judge gave Charles a very generous benefit of the doubt when he said that this should not be held against him. Also, the CCTV does not show a man who is in fear of anything. It shows a man who is very angry and displaying all the body language of an angry, aggressive person. That man is not Mr Sherriff, it is Charles. The jury clearly thought so too.

  53. It seems to me that the problem in this case is the huge gulf between the sentence for murder and manslaughter. Had he been convicted of manslaughter the sentence would probably have been been in the region of 8 years, of which he would have served half. The conviction for murder means he will have to spend another 14 Christmases in prison (and in reality probably more).

    In a case such as this, I in no way think the difference in culpability merits that difference in sentence. Do people think that if the jury had known the likely sentences that would have made a difference? Should juries know such things? Before a life sentence is passed, should the jury have to recommend it?

    • If I was serving on a jury I would have looked into the likely/minimum length of sentence if found guilty of murder. Surely the judges comments at the end of the trial sums this case up. No intent, didn’t break the bottle intentionally and was immediately remorseful (for mr Sherriff). To me the length of sentence is excessive but the real issue is that he has been found guilty of murder. That will never be right and he has to live his whole life on license for something he didn’t start and didn’t intend to happen.

      • I would say: intent was meant by grabbing the bottle and smashing it into the victims neck!!! Unintentionally broken or not- Charles absolutely intended to harm Phil Sherriff with that bottle. I would hazard a guess that smashing a bottle into someone’s neck is going to kill them!!!! He didn’t just punch him in the face for goodness sake. Hence his abhorrent actions have widowed a woman and taken a daddy away from 2 children and yes Bottlestop is an emotional response to an unnecessary loss – how more emotional does it get to lose the love of your life like this. ?? Charles initiated the aggression as witnessed on CCTV – he is responsible for his actions and therefore guilty of murder as was action with intent

    • Most adults would know what I life sentence means. Surely if they don’t they shouldn’t be on a jury. Are we expected to plead guilty to something we are not guilty of to get a reduced sentence. It’s not about the sentence it’s about finding the truth. In this case Ashley Charles is not guilty of murder but found guilty by a jury. Do you think that in cases like this there should be a panel of judges on the jury rather than members of the public with preconceived views taken from the press, social media sites and the police?

  54. I haven’t read all the comments…just the first few. I was present in the public gallery for some of the trial, and the things that struck me most was that the defendant did show remorse only for himself (for the fact that he didn’t want to go to prison for this crime, which was, I believe a loss of temper and a deliberate lashing out, perhaps uncharacteristic), and made the story he told try and fit the very clear CCTV footage of the incident. There are many places on line you can watch a small part of this footage if you wish.

    It seems quite clear to me that Mr Charles blatantly lied in court to try and reduce his sentence or negate the charge. Mr Charles had several months to come up with his story for what happened that night. Mr Sherriff will never get the opportunity to tell his side of things. Also Mr Charles had eight character witnesses during the trial. Mr Sherriff had none, as it’s not for the prosecution to prove that Mr Sherriff wouldn’t have provoked Mr Charles, but for Mr Charles to prove that he is innocent of the charge he is standing trial for.

    • The small section of CCTV released to the press by the police is to try and justify a guilty verdict. We need to see it all, from the moment Ashley Charles approached the bar, the moment mr sherriff, a married man with children tried to impress a women that was already talking to Ashley Charles.
      Ashley Charles pleady not guilty of murder which is the truth, as summed up by the judge, no intent, didn’t break the bottle intentionally and was immediately remorseful.
      Ashley may have had eight character references but he could have had many more.
      He is a compassionate, kind and thoughtful man. Until this incident I Always believed you are innocent until proven guilty not the other way round. It was a jury with preconceived views taken from the press, social media sites and the police that found Ashley Charles guilty not the judge, god help anyone who pleads not guilty as they will face a public jury.

  55. Well done Wine Legs. That is exactly what happened. Ashely Charles tried to besmirch Phil’s good name to try to get away with what he had done.If you look at the CCTV footage Ashley is the one being antagonistic pushing and getting up in Phil’s face. Phil looks like he is trying to use the phone call as an excuse to get away. He was such a good man, he would not have started anything. Ashley had so many people speak up for him in court yet Phil had no one apart from his widow.

  56. Ah, just read your earlier comment, Wine Legs, re the character references. So could the prosecution have used character references for Mr Sherriff, if the prosecution wished to do so? Or do they not have a choice in the matter and instead, its assumed that the victim is of good character and therefore doesn’t require them?

    • It seemed to be quite the opposite- no character witnesses were allowed for Mr Sherriff, despite his portrayal in court as an aggressive, drunken thug. It seems to be a pecularity of law that the victim’s character cannot be defended even as it is put on trial. Believe me, had it been possible to provide character witnesses for the victim there would have been scores of people lining up to take the stand.

  57. I thought the bottle stop campaign was about revenge. I’ve just had my suspicions confirmed. It is about revenge.

    • Absolutely. It was intended to influence the trial and that’s why there was a huge push for signatures beforehand and also why banners were displayed outside the court during the trial, which they were told to remove immediately. I am fully supportive of it’s cause but it’s cause became lost as it turned into a ‘hate’ campaign against Ashley Charles, that is the real reason ‘Bottle stop’ was born…………

      • There were no banners during the trial, only after the conviction. It has not been a ‘hate campaign’, it has been an attempt to deliver something positive out of a horrendous situation. Regarding the postings immediately after the trial, I think a widow who has been robbed of her future by a convicted murderer is entitled to put her point of view. Her dead husband had no such right of reply when he was being described a a drunken, aggressive hooligan in court.

      • Hope21, stick to the facts and stop making up events which didn’t happen to defend a convicted murderer.

  58. I don’t think the prosecution was able to have character witnesses for Mr Sherriff other than his wife, & his colleagues that he’d been at the gig with & who he’d only known a short while. I don’t know why that is, and it isn’t my place to guess the reasons, other than it was Mr Charles on trial, and not Mr Sherriff, therefore Mr Sherriff’s character shouldn’t have been called into question. Unfortunately though, it was by the statements Mr Charles made and what he provided as his version of events.

    I realise it would be helpful to see all the CCTV footage, and the jury did see it all when making their decision. We have to trust that their decision is right. That’s what a jury is for. It is entirely probable that, for the most part, Mr Charles is a “compassionate, kind and thoughtful man”, but on that night, in that club, something snapped and for a short period of time, his behaviour changed markedly. Intent (to murder) does not have to be premeditated and can happen in a split second, which unfortunately in this case, it did.

    It is fortunate that, at the time, someone noticed that Mr Charles was trying to leave the scene and detained him. There is no question that his actions resulted in Mr Sherriff losing his life in what appears to be an unprovoked attack. There is no question that he tried to snatch Mr Sherriff’s phone and then he did snatch Mr Sherriff’s bottle. There is no question that he tried to leave the scene. It could be suggested that this happened when he realised the seriousness of his loss of temper and didn’t want to get in trouble for it, not knowing that Mr Sherriff was about to lose his life.

    Mr Charles has provided his version of the events that evening, but if you watch just the online CCTV, it doesn’t seem to match up to what he says is happening at the time, even if you take what the press has written about the case (essentially Mr Charles statement) and wrap it around it.

    On a personal level, I would really like to take that CCTV in its entirety (7 mins), show it to 100 people and ask them to script what they see happening, with no statement or knowledge of either party. I would like to know, when neither party states what is happening, what others infer is going on.

    • In addition to seeing the 7 mins CCTV footage it would be ideal to have sound to support it in evidence. From this the public would hear the comments made by mr sherriff while he was using his mobile phone for over a minute. As we know no phone call was made, so how could this be unprovoked ? I can understand why people and family need to think of Ashley Charles as some kind of monster and coward as described on Facebook before the trial had started but I really am sorry to disappoint all mr sherriffs supporters on bottle stop but that is so far from the truth. He is just an ordinary man from a descent loving family.

      • So, we have two ordinary men from decent loving families, in a bar. One (M1) appears to make a phone call where we do not know what was being said. The other (M2), from what we can see, squares up to the man on the phone and deliberately tries to get in his face. M1 on the phone tries to move away from M2, still on his phone. M2 makes an unsuccessful grab for M1’s phone. M1 tries to move out of M2’s way again. M2 makes a second, quick sharp, aggressive grab for M1’s phone, again unsuccessful. He very quickly makes another very quick snatching movement for the bottle in M1’s other hand.

        As a result of this, and what we don’t see in the publicly available footage, one ordinary man from a decent loving family lost his life, and another ordinary man from a decent loving family has changed his forever, in an event that, in all reality,, took a short period of extreme anger and reaction.

        Sound would be hugely useful, of course, because we only have Mr Charles’ statement of what the phone call was about, but we don’t have that privilege, only the very clear CCTV which is available.

        On one hand we have Mr Charles saying that Mr Sherriff was making a call for support and using obscene words to describe Mr Charles. On the other hand we have what looks like someone pretending to be on the phone to try and remove themselves from an uncomfortable and aggressive situation.

        • Threats were made by mr sherriff, face to face and on his mobile phone, that I am 100% sure of. Ashley’s problem in court was that he couldn’t prove it. He did react as you have put. He reacted to being provoked when he should have turned away and walked off. But remember it was comments made by mr sherriff to a women that started the incident. A women for some reason he wanted to impress. Ashley Charles ignored these comments and for that he was pushed, at this point I don’t think there is anyone that would have just ignored it and so they exchanged words. Yes you can see Ashley face up to mr sherriff in the short section of cctv released by the police, a section biased against ashley. If you look through the stills you will see mr sherriff with his neck craned forward upto ashley but there is no mention of this. When mr sherriff used his phone to threaten Ashley Charles it escalated further. If threats weren’t being made why would Ashley make a grab for the phone, not once but twice. Of coarse he didn’t grab the phone, but in panic grabbed the bottle. If Ashley intended to cause harm why didn’t he just use the bottle already in his hand?? For me I will never understand how the police could charge Ashley Charles with attempted murder, for which you need an intent to kill. To then charge him with murder and appeal for witnesses to an unprovoked attack is shameful. Everyone deserves a fair trial.

        • No, that is true I wasn’t there that evening, but I would trust Ashley Charles 100% with my life and my children’s. It is fair to say that mrs sherriff was not there either, neither were the many people being abusive towards Ashley on Facebook, or should that be bottle stop??
          If bottle stop is about reducing incidents in pubs and at events then it would be more productive to mention plastic bottles and what is in the bottles and the real harm that drinking alcohol can do. To me it appeared to be a campaign for revenge and not justice. Yet again we see the public using social media sites to make comments about someone they have never met, spoken to or know anything factual about. If this is progress and justice then well done.

      • Of course you trust Charles 100% “with your life”. That’s what you do with people you love. It is up to the courts to take a more objective view. That’s what they did, and they decided that his testimony was untrue.

        I know very well why Bottle Stop was created, and I won’t try to change your mind on that but for the benefit of any other observers it had nothing to do with revenge or even the trial. The purpose is exactly as it says and I find it sad that you could malign a woman who has watched her husband die in front of her eyes due to the actions of Charles.

        Regarding the general public- high profile cases always attract comments. The vast majority of people who commented were commenting on what was in their opinion a violent act which was deemed by the courts to be murderous. As I’ve said below, whether or not Charles was/is a nice chap does not matter. He murdered somebody. Everybody is innocent until their first offence.

        • You say you know why bottle stop was created, but are you proud of what it has become? Are you sending a message to people that it is ok to drink alcohol to excess as long as its from a plastic bottle ?
          Is anyone supporting mr sherriff actually going to hold their hand up and acknowledge that he instigated the incident and provoked Ashley Charles.
          I would say that it is very likely that I high percentage of the supporters on bottle stop use their mobile phones whilst driving, tailgate on motorways and a few even drink and drive. These all have the potential to kill someone and if they did would you regard them as murderers and give them a sentence of Iife in prison?

        • If bottle stop had nothing to do with the trial please explain a post on facebook from Tim jones straight after the trial which read, justice done at the old bailey this morning, well done everyone involved,and let’s keep going – bottle stop.
          Would you expect a fair trial with a jury ?
          Those days have long gone I’m afraid .

      • Let’s say for a moment that you are correct. Let’s say that Mr Sherriff did provoke Charles. Let’s say that he did threaten Charles. Does that justify Charles’ actions? Clearly not. I get no satisfaction from his conviction, but he was justly convicted and sentenced accordingly. Between a friend of mine lying dead on a hospital trolley and a friend of mine being in prison but to be released at some point in the future, I know what I would choose.

        For the record, and using your level of ‘proof’ (based on the person you know), I am equally certain that Mr Sherriff made no threats nor displayed any aggression. I knew him for over twenty years and a less confrontational person you could not meet.

        I will not make any more comments on Bottle Stop. I am sorry that you feel that way about it but it is a genuine attempt at generating something positive out of this horror.

        Finally, I have tried to empathise and sympathise with Charles’ friends and family (if not the man himself). I see no such empathy or sympathy in return which I find shocking given that, unlike Mr Sherriff, Charles is alive and well albeit behind bars.

      • “If bottle stop had nothing to do with the trial please explain a post on facebook from Tim jones straight after the trial which read, justice done at the old bailey this morning, well done everyone involved,and let’s keep going – bottle stop.
        Would you expect a fair trial with a jury ?
        Those days have long gone I’m afraid .”

        I give up. I came on here only defend Phil and Bottle Stop against some of the more unpleasant and inaccurate accusations that have been made. I have tried to see things from the other point of view but it seems that courtesy cannot be extended. Instead there are ludicrous conspiracy theories that some how Bottle Stop has, in a matter of weeks, subverted a 400 year old justice system.

        The harsh truth is that your son/nephew/cousin/friend stabbed an innocent person through the throat with a broken bottle in the full view of a closed circuit television camera. For that reason, and for that reason alone, your son/nephew/cousin/friend will be in prison for the next decade and a half. Deal with it and stop trying to deflect the blame on to the true victims here- the deceased and the bereaved.

        • It’s the use of social media sites that can influence a decision in a trial, which is becoming more apparent over the last twelve months or so. when someone has pleaded not guilty with honest belief they face a public jury. It is my view that in such cases as this it should be down to a panel of judges that reach a verdict where emotion is not included.
          I feel for everyone involved in this incident, I respect your opinions but that is all that they are.

  59. One further point I would like to add regarding a point of law.

    It was made very clear in court (I was there) that for a murder charge to be the appropriate conviction then the “intent to cause really serious harm” needs only to be in the defendant’s mind momentarily- even just for a second. The jury have deduced that in the split second when Charles lashed out, he intended to cause “really serious harm”. On that basis he is guilty of murder. Premeditation and previous character doesn’t come into it. Furthermore, even if he showed remorse from the second he dropped the bottle, it doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law. He is still guilty of the offence.

    My own personal opinion, having seen almost all of the footage from different angles, is that there is no question that Charles was the aggressor. However, even if I am wrong on this you have to ask yourself whether or not his actions were proportionate to the alleged danger that he felt he was in. I am prepared to give Charles he benefit of the doubt and assume that the bottle was broken accidentally- it cannot be proven either way- but it seems inconceivable to me that he did not feel the bottle shatter in his hand and that as he brought it towards Mr Sherriff’s neck he knew that he was holding a dangerous object. He felt he was in danger (allegedly) and he had the option of fight or flight. He chose to fight, using a deadly weapon and as a result of this he is a convicted murderer.

    There are a lot of bar room lawyers on here. Myself included, though I am quoting the judge and the lawyers so I feel I am safe ground. Clearly some of the postings on here are from people who know Charles personally and are devastated by his incarceration. I can understand this. But the fact that he may have been a caring, compassionate, wonderful person up until this point does not change what he did. It also does not change the fact that the jury did not believe his testimony. Just because he was a nice fellow until he stabbed Mr Sherriff in the neck does not mean that he should not be found guilty of the offence, even though it creates an incredible amount of pain for his family.

    Finally, I have to say to Fairplay, Hope, Hope 21 and other supporters of Charles that Bottle Stop was never intended to influence the trial. This would have been a foolhardy approach that could have seen Charles walk free. References to Charles and proceedings were carefully avoided and comments which were too strong were deleted. Banners were not displayed outside court until after the verdict (contrary to one of the comments above). I know it must hurt that somebody you know and love will be in prison for a long time, but unfortunately for him that is the tariff for murdering somebody.

    • Yes you are right. People are absolutely devistated to what has happened to Ashley Charles, because people who know him, and are truly close to him, know he never intended to cause serious harm, as you put. But sadly it is Ashley Charles’ word against a dead mans. People are writing nasty comments on media sights, which is absurdly disgusting. Not one of Ashley Charles’ friends or family would post anything on a media sight. They have a lot of dignity. Ashley Charles is not fighting to be a free man, but he is in prison at this moment convicted of something he did not intend to happen. If this had happened to somebody you love and care about, you would be helping them to clear their name if wrongly accused murder. A lot of those people who write comments on media sights are all Hippocrates. I’m sure a good majority of them get in their cars and use their phones, or drink and drive. To me these are all moments of madness. But they seem to have got into a hate campaign, when the majority of them didn’t know Mr and Mrs Sherif. It feels like a witch hunt, I think it should be stopped. I pray Ashley Charles get an appeal.

      • Mrs Sherif seems to be putting comments on bottle stop that are very personal to get public support. Bottles are rarely mentioned which defeats the aims of the campaign. ‘May the bastard who did this to your family die a painful and agonising death’. Comments on the campaign page like this should be stopped.

  60. ” It happened in a second, a second to take a person’s life ”

    As in the words of ” Fair and Square ” dated 26/11/2012

    “I don’t think anyone wins here. A man has lost his life and another’s has been ruined by a “moment of madness”. It was ruined the second after he swiped at Mr Sherriff. It was ruined without the 14 years sentence ”

    Enough said don’t you think ?

    • He’s still alive. If he’s lucky he’ll have 40 or 50 years of life to enjoy after release. That’s more than the length of Phil’s entire life. 14 years is not excessive.

      • 14 years is too much for something you did not start and you did not intend for it happen. NO INTENT. Do you really think Ashley Charles should admit something he did not do. Would you?

      • He didn’t admit anything. He claimed self defence in an attempt do escape jail. The court disagreed and convicted him of murder.

        Funny, but nearly everybody in prison thinks they shouldn’t be there.

        • I’m sorry to repeat myself but Ashley Charles pleaded not guilty with honest belief. Belief that justice would be done in court by a jury.
          This was not an attempt to escape jail but what was the alternative. Plead guilty, avoid a jury get a reduced sentence and then not only have to live with the fact that somebody died from this provoked incident but also live with the fact that you went against your principles to serve a shorter term in jail. As we know serial offenders often plead guilty and include other offences to reduce their sentence.
          Ashley, had never been arrested before or had any dealings with the police, what option would you suggest when your not guilty of the charge against you, a charge of murder.

  61. It woud be interesting to know whether a manslaughter charge was ever considered for this case. I don’t think anyone here, in support of Ashley, is doubting whether he should serve time. It seems to be more about loopholes in how the case was handled. And an example of that would be FairPlay’s comments regarding the gathering of witnesses for what was claimed to be an unprovoked attack. How would anyone be able to prove, at the point of getting witnesses, presumably shortly after the attack, that it was unprovoked? Surely, that is something that has to be proved during the trial. This alone goes to prove that professionals were already assuming the outcome without hearing the evidence in court.

    And in terms of Ashley’s version of events in court, what would have been a suitable story that you would have believed from him, Bottle Stop Campaigners? Come on, let’s hear it? Absolutely nothing, because, with respect, your son/nephew/cousin/friend died that night and no version of events can ever justify that for you, let alone anything that may question the behaviour of your son/nephew/cousin/friend in those final moments. This is understandable from your end but it doesn’t mean that Ashley lied in court.

    To add, Ashley didn’t stand a chance, whatever he said in court, because undoubtedly, the reputable and profitable company that Mr Sherriff worked for, were probably able to offer their highly influential legal services to the family of the bereaved at no cost. Power is a wonderful thing.

    When all is said and done, the sentencing is not comparative with other cases. Anyone heard about the guy who has just been released from jail, after four years, for murdering his wife? He inflicted 48 injuries on her, after finding out she was having an affair. One killed her. He then collected his daughter from school and pretended to his daughter that his wife was still alive. Violent, manipulative and premeditated behaviour from someone who had pledged to love and cherish the victim through sickness and ill health. He was found guilty of manslaughter, given 8 years and served 4. He is now back living in the family home with his two children.

    Enough said.

    • Every time I try to leave this page another ridiculous theory is postulated. To debunk your ‘theory’ Fairandsquare1, it is the crown that prosecutes a case, not the bereaved. That is why it is Regina v Ashley Charles, not Sherriff v Ashley Charles. Who Phil’s employers were has absolutely no bearing on this and Phil’s family had no need of legal advice as they were not part of the process. I’m amazed at your lack of understanding of the legal process.

      I will say no more. A murderer is doing time as he should and his family and friends cannot accept it as is understandable. That is pretty much all the above 273 comments amount to.

      • I do not know either party but have felt strongly that Ashley Charles sentence is far too long. The actions of Mr Sherriff should matter in this case as if he had not made antagonistic remarks to start it All neither party’s lives would have been wrecked. The sentence is not in line with others.

      • To be fair 99% of the ridiculous theories and attempts to justify the actions of Charles are made either his family or friends. Everyone not wearing blinkers can see he is guilty of murder and is rightly in prison but not for long enough.

        • And I’m sure that 99% of the comments from those supporting the deceased are from the family and friends of the deceased. The remainder will probably be those that have signed up to Bottle Stop. The Facebook campaign that claims to be about banning glasses and bottles from pubs and clubs (but is really about colluding against Mr Charles).

    • FairPlay1 there is no ‘version of events’ that could have justified stabbing somebody in the throat- not with the CCTV there for all to see. Charles tried to construct one and failed.

      • One day things will be put right for Ashley Charles that I am sure of and that’s beause Ashley is NOT a murderer and that I am sure of to

      • ” Swipe” not stab, There is a difference. He did not ” stab” Mr Sherriff in the throat he ” swiped” to push him away in anger completely unaware the bottle had broken. As clearly shown on the CCTV footage he grabbed the bottle, which was whole, from Mr Sherriff, Yes in anger. Nowhere does he ” check” the bottle has broken, That was not his intention. Mr Charles is small and as he swiped at Mr Sherriff, who was taller than himself, the bottle connected with Mr Sherriff’s neck. Ashley Charles had absolutely no idea whatsoever that the bottle was broken at that time, therefore he never intended to kill him. Therefore he should NOT have been given a 14 year sentence which is the same length of time passed for someone who commits a murder that is premeditated.

  62. Fairandsquare, bottlestop is about removing glass bottles from late night gatherings. And lets face it, if Charles had grabbed a plastic bottle he’d not be in jail for murder now, his friends and family shoud support the campaign as much as anyone else, yet they’re too busy blaming it and everyone else for his conviction. Charles used a broken bottle as a weapon, continually defending a murderer while pointing fingers at others says a great deal about a person.

    • T – you know what, I was going to join Bottle Stop for exactly the point you just made…….. but then it became very personal and abusive towards others and something I didn’t want to be part of. Keep the site aimed at its original purpose and you may get those numbers rolling again. Lastly, I don’t think anyone is blaming the site for Mr Charles’s conviction, sentencing maybe, but not conviction.

      • “Absolutely. It was intended to influence the trial and that’s why there was a huge push for signatures beforehand and also why banners were displayed outside the court during the trial, which they were told to remove immediately. ”

        Looks like some are though.

        • T – There was a good chance Mr Charles was going to be convicted. Somebody died because of the action he took. However, I will never believe that Mr Charles intended to kill Mr Sherriff.

          Mr Charles may have been seen for the person that he truly is, in court, if the site that we are referring to had been set up after the trial, for the purpose that it was intended. Had he been seen for the person that he is, he would not be serving 14 years in prison.

  63. Hope – “One day things will be put right for Ashley Charles”

    When will they be put right for the victim then? Oh sorry, he’ll still be dead because of Charles’ actions.

  64. Asa someone who knows neither of the two men, I can only say that I am glad that people who swing glass bottles in anger at others are able to be convicted and given a life sentence. It would make me feel less safe if people were allowed to go around doing that with impunity. Swinging a glass bottle at someone’s neck, pre-broken or not, is likely to cause serious injury or death. There can be no excuse for not knowing that, or for allowing yourself to get so drunk that you lose all sense of responsibility. Hitting someone with a glass bottle is not normal behaviour.
    I am sure the defendant has many people who love him, but however charming he is, and it sounds amply attested to in court, he has murdered someone. Had he not, it would have been a miscarriage of justice. As he has, he is in prison.No other reason but his own actions. Part of the point of prison is to allow people to come to terms with their actions, and no doubt he will do over the years to come.
    It seems that any campaign to ban glass bottles is equally in the guilty party’s favour, as he cannot be the only hot-headed young man behind bars because of a moment of madness and an all-too-handily available weapon. There are many other ‘Ashley Charles’ out there who may be saved from losing their freedom due to the campaign. It is a sad story for both parties, but whatever happens to Charles is irrelevant for the family who have lost their loved one. Success for their campaign would no doubt be a happy event, but as someone who has a very similar family set-up, I am sure not even that will in any way compensate their loss.

    • Yes you are right you don’t know either parties. I only know one family. But what people seem to be forgetting, is that on that night Ashley Charles was standing at a bar minding his own business when Phil sherif tried to intimidate him. It was said in court that he was joking, it’s easy to say things like that. But there has to be some responsibility for mr sherifs actions too. I am not saying Ashley Charles should walk free from a moment of madness, but he certainly shouldn’t have been given a life’s tarrif. My heart goes out to mr sherifs family for the terrible thing that happened that night. What people should think about is that if Ashley Charles would have been left alone at the bar, two people would be getting on with their lives and none of this would have happened. So many things have been said about this case that are not accurate. It all happened in a split second, and Ashley Charles is no more a murder than me or you.

      • The true actions of mr sherriff are never mentioned by his supporters in this debate. It is something that they wish to ignore because he has died. The fact remains that the provocation and threats caused Ashley Charles to feel in imminent danger which caused a loss of control and a moment of panic that he has to live with. To live on licence for the rest of your life for something that you neither started or intended to happen is not justice.

    • You are absolutely right, swinging ANY object at anyone is not acceptable but by doing that the question is did they Intentionally swing the object to kill that person? In this case no they did not. None of this is meant to take away the fact, tragically, that Mr Sherriff lost his life, no-one is more sorry, however much you choose not to accept it, than Ashley Charles himself and he knows he will serve time for his actions, The debate is the length of the tariff served to him. However what you do not and will not accept are the other version of events that sadly led to Mr Sherriff’s demise. It would be very interesting to know what led Ashley Charles to become so angry and act so out of character, maybe it was the previous 7 mins of footage that the public have not seen……………….

      • When Ashley Charles flapped out with that bottle,not only was there no intension to kill there was also no intension to cause harm. It was a reaction, a loss of control to defend himself from the imminent danger he felt.
        I would question not only the length of sentence but the Charge of murder.

    • Are you saying Ashley Charles was drunk? There is no evidence to suggest he was drunk. I’m not sure about whether mr sherif was. This is the problem, people are persuming things because somebody has lost their life. People are only seeing one side and judging the case. The press and media have portrayed the incident to be milicious and intended. The press and media choose what they want us to hear, see and believe. We are a nation that is ruled by media. The day after the incident happened, the headlines in a London based news paper were appealing for witnesses of an ‘unprovoked attack’. This is sending out the wrong message to people. How can that be justice.

      • He should be locked up for longer if he was sober.

        It doesn’t matter what the press report after the event, he was convicted by a jury who saw/heard all the evidence. Perhaps you should remember that he was convicted by fair trial of murder.

        • I feel this debate for me has come to its useful end.
          It seems that people may take offence if they don’t like what they hear.

  65. I won’t accept that because there is not a shred of evidence and it was thrown out of court. No witness in a packed club, no CCTV evidence, and no phone evidence. I can understand that you do not wish to accept this, but without evidence you must.
    And it was not just any object that was swung. It was a lethal object. There is no excuse for not knowing that. He did not even swing forgetting that he had a bottle in his hand, he purposefully picked it up in order to attack him. These are just facts that you’ll have to accept to move on. Even if the victim did make the first remark (again – evidence) it is not acceptable to respond in the way that he did. It is in fact illegal and carries a life sentence. And we are all glad it does. I’ve lost count of the number of verbal altercations I’ve had in situations where people were drinking, but I’ve always been safe in the knowledge that no-one is going to try to seriously hurt me because of it. I am going to be a little more wary now, but that still would not make it my fault.
    The best that can be said about Charles was that he did not think of the consequences. Yes, it is a tragic waste for a moment’s stupidity, but it was gross stupidity with grave consequences for himself as well as the victim and it was his responsibility to control himself. I have to say I have severe doubts about how sorry he is if his friends and family are out spreading unfounded nastiness about the victim and his family. If he was really sorry, he would not want that to happen, but perhaps he is not aware of it.

    • “I have to say I have severe doubts about how sorry he is if his friends and family are out spreading unfounded nastiness about the victim and his family. If he was really sorry, he would not want that to happen..”

      Agreed! They’re not only forgetting there was a victim at all but trying to blame him for the outcome and making unfounded and unwarranted comments towards the family. There are some nice people in the world today.

  66. “When Ashley Charles flapped out with that bottle,not only was there no intension to kill there was also no intension to cause harm. It was a reaction, a loss of control to defend himself from the imminent danger he felt.”

    Defend himself from a man he approached and trapped at a bar, defend himself by taking a bottle and using it as a weapon, yea right.

    • Observer – could you please tell me where the nastiness to the victims family is? I have never wrote anything nasty about the sherif family and never would. Those supporting Ashley Charles never would either. Your the person the doesn’t know either family’s and only getting information from media/hear say or on bottle stop.

      • “It’s hard for mrs sherriff and her family to accept that this was all started by comments made by mr sherriff in some attempt to chat a women up, I can understand that but what I find totally disgusting and unacceptable is the many number of people who have never spoken to Ashley and are using bottle stop via Facebook to place threats, vengeance and hatred towards him. Mrs sherriff has allowed this to happen from the start and it continues now. The day after the trial she appeared in the sun news paper, the lowest of the low, not to promote bottle stop but for her own satisfaction this followed by tv appearances where plastic bottles were hardly mentioned.”

        A direct quote from Fair Play on this very thread. I would consider what this person is accusing Mrs Sherriff of to be nastiness at best, downright malevolent is probably more appropriate.

    • I feel this is becoming like bottle stop. The comments that were put on bottle stop on Monday and Tuesday of this week are absolutely disgusting and those people should be ashamed of themselves. I will not let myself get in to a debate like that. Please remember all the comments made on bottle stop cannot be seen by Ashley so nobody is hurting him but just his family and friends and they don’t deserve that. If mr sheriff is running the show with bottle stop,she is the one person that can stop this before it goes too far. I do not feel like I have to defend Ashley anymore.

      • “If mr sheriff is running the show”

        Sadly he can’t run anything, he was murdered in an unprovoked attack.

        I do feel sorry for the victims family, they can’t show any public grief or sadness without the killers friends/family pointing fingers at them. The victims family set up a campaign to stop these types of murders happening in the future and the murderers supporters jump on it for the slightest remark. In effect the murderer took a mans life and his supporters are making sure the victims family continue to suffer – as I say, there are some nice people in the world today.

      • Is that the sort of person you are? I made a mistake and put mr instead of mrs. That’s why I will not be a part of this debate anymore because of people like you.

  67. “That’s why I will not be a part of this debate anymore because of people like you.”

    To be honest I won’t be having a sleepless night. You obviously spend a considerable amount of time trawling Facebook and perhaps other forms of social media for ammunition to throw around in an attempt to defend a convicted murderer, if you think that raises you above someone that’s pulls you up on a typo then good luck to you.

    Ashley Charles murdered someone, he caused untold grief and suffering, yet people spend their time trying to excuse him and his actions. No wonder this country is in such a mess.

  68. @Care, so a drunk guy at a bar is classified as someone provoking another to murder? Wow, bars around the country must be piled high with murder victims by now then.

    • @ T . How very sad and immature you are as a person. I pity you. You are trying your hardest to drag Ashley Charles friends and family into an argument but it will not happen. We are so much better than that and so much better than you.

      • The fact is friends and family of Charles have used this blog to complain about the conviction for months now, he was convicted at fair trail yet you won’t accept this. The friends and family of Charles keep making out not only he but they are the injured party, this isn’t the case, keep those facts in mind when complaining again.

  69. It’s sad to think that once, this was a sensible blog from sensible people. I can’t say the same about it now. Over the last few days, particular individuals have joined the discussion that seem to be quite aggressive with their comments. They are not willing to hear or discuss anything other than what they choose to believe. I will always defend Ashley. There is not one part of me that believes he intended to do this. There is not one part of me that believes he provoked Mr Sherriff into that argument. And there is not one part of me that believes he is not remorseful. And the interesting thing is, everyone who knows Ashley feels the same.

    T – allow people their views and respect it. Put your own emotions to one side and don’t try to pick holes with ours.

    • You have not yet entertained any other view than Charles being innocent yet you expect others to, why? If you can’t entertain the fact he may be guilty why should we entertain that he could be innocent? Is it not hypocrisy on your part to do so?

    • ” this was a sensible blog from sensible people”

      Strange though you have not complained about those that suggest it wasn’t a fair trial because of banners being shown outside court during the trial – this was a lie yet you ignored it. Strange that you have not complained about those that were critical about the victim – you didn’t know him, there was no evidence to back up the comments yet you ignored it. Strange that you have not complained about be snide and nasty comments aimed at the victims family and friends. Strange that you didn’t complain about people suggesting there was a conviction because of the victim having a better lawyer – a suggestion which shows people really are grasping at straws yet again you ignored it. Strange that you have not complained about the numerous comments about social media influence during the trial – again there was not one shred of evidence yet you did not complain. If you want a sensible discussion why not request people stick to the facts of the case.

      Did the person convicted of murder take a bottle from the victim and use that bottle as a weapon – yes.
      Is 14 years in jail enough for murder – no.

    • I’m not disputing, by the way, that before that night Charles was a lovely boy, or that he did not go to that party intending to commit murder. I’m even happy to concede that he may not have started the argument, though there is no evidence in his favour and some against – it’s inconclusive. But irrelevant – he did take a glass bottle and shove it into someone’s neck, which killed them. He, and only he, has caused all this. That is the evidence. And even lovely boys who commit murder have to go to jail.

      • This will be my final comment on this blog.
        Observer.
        Until someone that is supporting the victim puts their hand up and admits that this incident was started by comments made by mr sherriff, followed by provocation and that he played some part in this tragic incident supporters of Ashley Charles will question why that is.
        Until they can give a realistic reason for him to use his mobile phone when there was no call made it will be questioned.
        While comments of vengeance and hatred remain on bottle stop they will question its cause.
        Evil Comments that have been placed on bottle stop should be removed as they were during the trial. Mrs sherriff should keep that for her own personal Facebook not a public plastic bottle campaign.

        • The reasonable explanation, the one which makes far more sense than the one offered in court, is that Phil pretended to be on the phone to diffuse the situation and avoid the nasty little aggressive man who was screaming in his face. The nasty little aggressive man did not like being ignored and reacted physically, trying to grab the phone. It is telling that even after Charles has lunged at Phil- twice- to grab the phone, Phil still doesn’t react physically to defend himself (although in that situation most people would). All Phil does is lean back over the bar to keep his phone out of reach.

          It’s time the supporters of Charles accepted that he has a violent temper. I would be surprised if this is the first time it’s reared its ugly head.

  70. Is it really surprising that out of thousands of comments a few (by uninvolved strangers – the Internet is like that) respond emotionally about the perpetrator? You need to stop obsessing and accept that what Charles did was appalling, has ruined lives, and is sickening to think about. It is natural for people to be repulsed, and people will come out with emotional language. The best thing you can do is not look for it.
    The victim ‘s family must be in living hell, and they really need to be left alone. I understand that there is an appeal, which will drag them back into the nightmare again. The last thing they will want to do is cause hurt to Charles – why would they even want to think about the man who has ruined their lives? Justice has been done which is enough. They will desperately want to be able to forget him. But hopefully it will provide some closure to friends and family of Charles. There has to be acceptance that he deliberately committed a horrible crime. It wasn’t an accident, he wasn’t wrongly accused, and he bears responsibility for his actions however angry or inebriated he was. If he wanted to make amends, he and his family would start by ensuring the innocent family he has caused such pain to through his actions could try to rebuild their lives in peace without further harassment and twisting of the knife.

    • I’m glad you’ve acknowledged the campaign site was rigorously policed until after the trial, although the jibe about the widow’s Facebook page when it seems she has never posted anything publicly about Charles (other than her statement), you can’t know what she has on there and it’s very unlikely she’d give space to the man who’d destroyed her life is a bit much. There are very very few mentions of Charles on the campaign, especially in comparison to other media sites, and you are going to have to accept that he is convicted and is a despicable villain in the eyes of the public. He will be judged, but he brought that on himself. None of the comments you refer to are by the family or people close to them.
      Neither is it the victims friends and family who are responsible for the evidence or the trial or the judge’s summing up. It was the judge who said that Charles had told a pack of lies and had tried to construct an assassination of the victim’s character on no evidence. The victim ‘ s family are not responsible for that, nor are they obliged to open a retrial on an Internet forum. Justice has been done on all available evidence, much of which is not available to us here but was in court. If there was evidence of reasonable provocation then that would have come out in court. As there was no evidence, and indeed all available evidence points to the contrary, there is no way that anyone can say this is so. If you have evidence you should have submitted it to the court. If you do not, you are going to have to accept what there is. Using his phone, by the way, is not provocation in any way, and witness statements corroborate that he was trying to remove himself from the situation with it.
      What is clear is that Charles could have walked away, but instead killed a man in anger. I have every sympathy that he was immediately appalled by the realisation of what he’d done, which probably led him to try and construct his own reasoning, but that doesn’t turn back time unfortunately and he must face his punishment.

  71. Yes the victim’s family must be in a living hell and whether you choose to accept it or not is irrelevant, but we all sympathise with that. However Ashley Charles’ family are also in a living hell and don’t worry they don’t want your sympathy they have enough support from genuine people that have known the family for many many years not 100k people who for some have absolutely no idea what cause they are supporting and know absolutely nothing about Mr and Mrs Sherriff’s past and nor do they know Mr Sherriff himself. So whilst we believe Ashley’s tariff is too high, we will continue to fight for him, whether you or Mr Sherriff’s family like it or not and we will fight for the next 14 years if that’s what it takes. So may I suggest you continue to fight your Bottle Stop cause and we’ll continue our fight for justice for Ashley Charles. I think that draws a final line under this blog don’t you?

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