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Eye stab yob loses appeal

PUBLISHED: 14:49 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:28 01 July 2010

A YOUNG thug who killed a friend in a dispute over a taxi fare, plunging a kitchen knife into his eye socket, has failed in an Appeal Court challenge to his indefinite prison sentence.

A YOUNG thug who killed a friend in a dispute over a taxi fare, plunging a kitchen knife into his eye socket, has failed in an Appeal Court challenge to his indefinite prison sentence.

Craig Griffin, 21, of Thursley Road, Mottingham stabbed Barry Johnson with such force that the blade cut through his skull and penetrated his brain.

He was convicted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey in May 2007 and sentenced to indefinite imprisonment for public protection (IPP).

After an appeal to three top judges at the Criminal Appeal Court last Friday, Griffin was told that the tough sentence - almost identical to a life term - would stand.

The sentence means the courts consider that he poses such a danger to the public that he must be locked up indefinitely, until he is assessed as no longer being a risk by the Parole Board.

Mr Justice Saunders, who sat with Lord Justice Tuckey and Mr Justice Coulson, said Griffin's suggestion that he did not realise the consequences of his actions meant he potentially posed even more of a danger.

Griffin had been with Mr Johnson at his home in Mottingham on the night of the killing and had taken some of the victim's money to get a taxi home. Prosecutors said the arrangement had been that the taxi driver would take Griffin to Bromley, but then buy some cigarettes and deliver them to Mr Johnson.

But, shortly after leaving, Griffin returned to Mr Johnson's home with the cigarettes and an argument broke out about the rest of the cash.

A knife, taken from the kitchen, was used, possibly by both men, and Mr Johnson was killed by stab wounds to the back and eye socket.

Griffin, who received a cut consistent with a knife wound, said Mr Johnson had first attacked him with the blade, but he had then taken it from him and struck out. Initially, Griffin was charged with murder, but, when the jury failed to reach a verdict, they instead convicted him of manslaughter and he was jailed.

Lawyers representing Griffin argued that the judge was wrong to sentence Griffin on the basis of him having been provoked and should instead have done so on the basis of lack of intent to kill.

Had he done so, he would have been less likely to consider that Griffin was dangerous enough to justify an open-ended term, it was argued.

But, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Saunders said the trial judge had been perfectly entitled to come to his own conclusions about Griffin's dangerousness.

"In our judgment, on a proper analysis, the judge's findings are unassailable," he said.

"Not only did he have all the relevant factors in mind, but he had the great benefit of observing Griffin at his trial and hearing his evidence."

ktneditorial@archant.co.uk

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