Five men jailed for execution of drug dealer to be freed

Five men jailed for a notorious gangland murder have been cleared on appeal.

Kevin Nunes, 20, was shot dead in an "execution style" killing in Staffordshire in September 2002. A known drug dealer who was a footballer on Tottenham Hotspur's books, he was found dead in a country lane with five gunshot wounds.

Five men were jailed for life for his murder at Leicester Crown Court in 2008. But their convictions were quashed by three judges at the Court of Appeal in London yesterday after being told that concerns about the credibility of the key prosecution witness were withheld from the defence.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it did not seek to uphold the convictions and would not be seeking a retrial.

Four senior police officers, including Northamptonshire's Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable, are under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission over misconduct claims relating to Staffordshire Police's investigation of the murder.

The judges were told of an affair between two police officers involved in the case, which may have had a bearing on the evidence given by the witness. The key witness who said at the trial he had seen the killing has since retracted his evidence.

Levi Walker, from Birmingham, Adam Joof, from Willenhall, West Midlands, Antonio Christie, from Great Bridge, West Midlands, Michael Osbourne and Owen Crooks, both from Wolverhampton, were aged between 26 and 28 when jailed.

All the men, apart from Crooks, watched the court proceedings via video link from prison. Four of the men will be released shortly, but Walker will remain in prison as he is serving time for another murder.

The IPCC investigation began after the men lodged appeals. The four officers remain in post, but the IPCC confirmed the investigation, led by the Chief Constable of Derbyshire Mick Creedon, was ongoing.

Northamptonshire Chief Constable Adrian Lee and Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport are being investigated, along with West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale. Staffordshire's Assistant Chief Constable Jane Sawyers is also being investigated.

Mr Lee joined Northamptonshire from Staffordshire in 2009. He also holds the Association of Chief Police Officers' ethics portfolio.

Yesterday Staffordshire Police said: "The force will now consider today's judgement – and the rationale for the Crown Prosecution Service decision – before determining the way forward."