'It seems his life didn’t matter': Family of black stab victim, 14, call for more diverse juries

Words and video report by ITV News' Ben Chapman who sat down with Dea-John Reid's family as they called for new laws to improve diversity on juries

The family of a 14-year-old boy who was chased through the streets, racially abused and stabbed to death are calling for new laws to improve diversity on juries, after his killer was cleared of murder.

Dea-John Reid was killed in broad daylight in Birmingham in May 2021.

Prosecutors said in court he’d been “hunted down” by a group of white youths and adults.

In their first interview since the trial, his family told ITV News the justice system let them down, after a 15-year-old boy was jailed for six and a half years for manslaughter.

They say it was unacceptable that only one of the jurors in a racially-aggravated case was from an ethnically diverse background.

Dea-John Reid's family are calling for new laws to improve diversity on juries, after his killer was cleared of murder.

“Something went wrong somewhere,” Dea-John’s mother Joan Morris told ITV News.

“You see a person have a knife like that chasing down someone and you say that is manslaughter?

“It seems like Dea-John’s life didn’t matter to none of them. He was black. That’s why Dea-John’s life don’t matter.”

In CCTV from the day of his death, which was shown in court, Dea-John is seen being chased through the streets, before being caught up by another teenager, who was masked and brandishing a large kitchen knife.

“I literally see the person stab my brother in the heart and you say it’s not murder, it makes no sense.”

The teenager claimed at his trial that the stabbing, seconds later, had been in self-defence.

The four others who’d been involved in the chase were also cleared of murder.

For Dea-John’s family, their bewilderment at the verdicts have only added to their pain.

“I sit in court for six weeks with my mum and we watch the video of everything,” says his brother, Kirk Bryan.

“I literally see the person stab my brother in the heart and you say it’s not murder, it makes no sense.”

The family are now campaigning for a new law that would require juries to represent the ethnic make-up of an area when trying cases where race is an issue.

“We need the jury to be mixed,” says Joan. “No pure white, no pure Asian. If it had been mixed, it wouldn’t go like this.”

Dea-John Reid.

Juries in England and Wales are selected at random. Unlike in the United States, legal teams cannot object to jurors, unless they have a personal connection to the case.

There is no evidence race played any part in the jury’s verdict in Dea-John’s case, but Desmond Jaddoo, a community activist who is campaigning with the family, believes perceptions are important.

“If people are judged by their peers, your peers are the people that you live with,” he said.

“That jury did not reflect Birmingham. So if someone uses the N-word, a juror who is white may not understand the serious implications of those statements.”

But Jo Sidhu QC, who chairs the Criminal Bar Association, believes juries remain the fairest part of the criminal justice system.

“I think it's important for juries to be diverse, wherever possible,” he said.

“All our jurors are in fact drawn out of a hat and it means that broadly speaking, we get fair juries and they are balanced.”

That is little comfort to a family who believe justice has been absent in Dea-John’s case. They are organising a rally at the weekend and a petition, in the hope that change can be his legacy.

His brother Kirk said: “I told him he’s going to do something great.

“[He will] if he can leave this for other kids to come and they don’t have to worry about going in a courtroom and getting judged because of the colour of their skin.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “This was a despicable crime and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Dea-John Reid.

“Successive academic studies have shown that they deliver fair and impartial results, regardless of their ethnic make-up.”

Following their experience, Dea-John’s family will always struggle to believe that.

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