Jack Woodley: How ten teens were convicted of murder when only one used the knife

Jack was on his way home from the Houghton Feast funfair when he was attacked by the group of strangers. Credit: Family photo

Ten teenagers were found guilty of murdering Jack Woodley even though only one of them used the knife that struck the fatal wounds. ITV News Correspondent Gregg Easteal explains what evidence and what aspects of the law helped secure the convictions.

“Get the chopper out.”

The chilling words that rang out moments before Jack Woodley was stabbed.

They were words, too, which the prosecution in this case used to help convince the jury that all ten youngsters who joined the attack on the 18-year-old that night last October should be found guilty of murder.


Put simply, lawyers and the police argued that those words can be regarded as a clear message to all the teenagers that a knife was about to be brandished.

In this case, that knife was a 25cm long Rambo style blade - a deadly weapon that left Jack Woodley with fatal injuries.

Jack Woodley was stabbed with a 25cm long knife. Credit: CPS

Detective Chief Inspector Jo Brooks of Northumbria Police, who led the inquiry, says CCTV captured those words being shouted more than once in the run up to the stabbing.

At that point she explains the "children" involved had a choice and chose to get involved in what followed.

DCI Brooks told ITV News: "The way that they said it, get the chopper out, as if like it was an order almost. Right we're going. This group of children worked together and it's as simple as that".

The legal framework used to prosecute all of the teenagers for murder, even though only one of them used the deadly weapon, is called 'joint enterprise'.

It's defined as a situation where someone who commits an offence is assisted or encouraged by others to carry it out.

In the case of the murder of Jack Woodley, witnesses described seeing the group effectively surround their victim at one point, kicking, punching, stamping and stopping Jack from getting out and anyone else from pulling him to safety.

The attack happened near the Britannia Inn. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

One witness said: "I remember the terrified look on Jack's face as he was being punched kicked and stamped on."

Another witness said simply the murderers that night had behaved like "zombies".

It formed part of an extensive body of evidence that helped convince the jury that all ten were guilty of murder.

DCI Jo Brooks said seeing children convicted for such a serious crime and led away to the cells was hard to watch.

"There are no winners here," she concluded.

The only hope from this case is that it might send a message to anyone who moves with someone carrying a knife about the potential consequences.

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