UK lawyers save death row teenager

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BRITISH LAWYERS have saved the life of an American teenager who had faced a death sentence for killing two teenagers.

Fiona Elder, a barrister, and Owen Williams, a solicitor, came to the aid of 16-year-old Bobby Purcell, who faced execution after his conviction earlier this year for shooting dead the teenagers in June 1988. Amicus, a group of British lawyers committed to stopping such executions, had discovered the case.

Amicus asked the human rights lawyers from Bristol to prepare a brief arguing that, under international law, the teenager should not be killed. In response, a court in Arizona, where the convict is from, last week substituted two consecutive life sentences.

Mr Williams said: "The death penalty is little more than state-sponsored murder, particularly in America where its use is so politicised." A new associate with Bristol firm Clarke Willmott and Clarke, Mr Williams was named this summer as the Assistant Solicitor of the Year by The Lawyer magazine.

More than 560 people have been executed in the United States since the death penalty was re-introduced in 1976. About 80 have been executed so far this year, and 3,565 prisoners remain on death row.