Estate's wall of silence broken down by deals

JAMIE ROBE'S murder was shocking. The teenager was lured into an ambush down a quiet, dark street in south-east London by a gang of youths. The blows that killed him were so ferocious that some of the weapons shattered.

Nobody disputes Jamie was drunk or that he had been in an argument with two of the boys who killed him. But when he followed them down Tawny Way into the Osprey estate, Rotherhithe, he was met by a gang for whom his life was worthless.

The police were under tremendous pressure to solve the case in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. But the inquiry hit a wall of silence, and incentives were offered to witnesses. This led to criticism of the area's MP, Simon Hughes, who brokered some of the deals.

In December 1997 a tabloid newspaper offered a reward of pounds 10,000 for information leading to the conviction of the killers. The murder was also the subject of a Crimewatch reconstruction. But for a year the police could make no progress. In the midst of this was Mr Hughes, trying to find witnesses to testify. The way he went about it led to accusations of naivety by the defence.

The prosecution case rested largely on three people who said they saw the murder and who all benefited from the witness protection programme. Traci Broughton, now 19, was first persuaded by the MP to meet police on 13 January 1998. Her account, however, changed over time. She told detectives she had seen Jamie in the Surrey Docks area where they flirted with each other. This led to a fight between one of the convicted men, David Huggins, and Jamie, which the latter had won.

She also told police she was picked up from a pub by her boyfriend, Russell Eveling. Mr Eveling denied this; he is a bus driver and records show he was working that night.

Ms Broughton then said she would provide a witness statement in return for relocation away from Rotherhithe. She claimed Danny Huggins, brother of David Huggins, was present at the murder. But hospital records show he was with his girlfriend, who had been admitted for treatment. Ms Broughton changed her story and suggested another name.

The Crown Prosecution Service was unwilling to proceed on the evidence of Ms Broughton alone and dropped the case in March 1998. At the end of that year Mr Hughes met three Turkish brothers, originally called witnesses C, D and E. They owned and worked in the Surrey Kebab opposite the crime scene.

The three said they would only give evidence if one of them - D, an illegal immigrant - was given indefinite leave to stay. The Home Office initially refused but was persuaded by Mr Hughes to reverse its decision. A second condition emerged; all three insisted on being relocated. Mr Hughes brokered a pounds 20,000 loan with a local bank manager to allow them to open a new kebab shop elsewhere.

In January 1999 all three made statements and the five youngsters were charged. In court, the defence lawyers successfully argued to remove screens shielding the Turkish witnesses in court. Witness E withdrew from the case. The two remaining Turks were given pseudonyms Mehmet and Hassan, but their character was questioned in the case.

Mr Hughes defended his actions yesterday, saying: "In terms of doing my job, using my network in the community, that is one of the jobs MPs have to learn to do. You have to take risks sometimes."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor