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Warden resident Ritchie Zborowski loses appeal against murder conviction

By Times Guardian reporter

A teenager who took part in the brutal murder of a man beaten to death on a Sheppey beach has failed in a bid to clear his name.

Ritchie Zborowski, of Sea View Gardens, Warden, was just 15 when he was involved in killing Gary Pocock.

The victim’s half-naked body was found washed up on the shore and Zborowski found guilty of murder and locked up for life at Maidstone Crown Court in April 2014.

Police at the scene of the murder on Warden Bay beach

Police at the scene of the murder on Warden Bay beach

Four others were convicted.

Now 19, Zborowski challenged his conviction at London’s Court of Appeal with David Etherington QC saying following a change in the law on joint enterprise last year, Zborowski’s conviction could not stand.

But the appeal was rejected by three senior judges, who said there was clear evidence against him and his conviction was safe.

The court heard Mr Pocock, from Dagenham, was beaten to death with baseball bats in August 2013, after a teenage girl accused him of molesting her.

He suffered 63 blows to his body.

Mark Terry, 47, his son Matthew Terry, 23, from east London, and Christopher Bones, also 23, from Dagenham were also found guilty of murder.

Ritchie Zborowski

Ritchie Zborowski

After hearing of the girl’s complaint, Mark Terry held a meeting at one of his holiday chalets on Sheppey and a plot was hatched.

The gang decided to take the victim out drinking, before luring him to a secluded place where he was attacked.

He was then dragged onto the beach at Warden, where the attack continued.

His half-naked body, dumped in the sea, washed up the next day.

Police also found the bloodied baseball bats, one of which had been used with such severe force it snapped.

The gang tried to cover their tracks by texting Mr Pocock’s partner, pretending to be him, to delay her reporting him missing.

Gary Pocock's body was found washed up on the shore

Gary Pocock's body was found washed up on the shore

Zborowski, who was there when Mr Pocock was attacked but didn’t play an active part, gave three police interviews in which he went along with the story the group concocted.

But he later told police he was struck by revulsion, was scared and tried to move away.

The court heard he was involved in sexual activity with a girl within hours of the attack, demonstrating little in the way of revulsion.

The trial judge found he was at the scene, supporting and encouraging the others.

Jamie West, 22, of Cliff View Gardens, Warden, was convicted of manslaughter and Mark Terry’s wife Lisa admitted perverting the course of justice by telling a witness not to inform police some of the men had showered following the violence.

Victim Gary Pocock suffered 63 blows to his body with baseball bats

Victim Gary Pocock suffered 63 blows to his body with baseball bats

Rejecting his appeal, Mr Justice Sweeney said, despite making allowance for his youth and finding his lawyers’ arguments attractive, the court was not persuaded to overturn his conviction.

The supreme court ruled last year the controversial law on joint enterprise - which can result in people being convicted of a murder they did not intend or commit – had been wrongly interpreted for 30 years.

Joint enterprise means a person who assists or encourages the committing of a crime, that both have set out to commit, can be held as legally responsible as the person who actually carries it out.

"Zborowski knew there was a plan to lure Mr Pocock to the beach and to attack him – he played a full part in that" - Mr Justice Sweeney

The test is foreseeing the possibility of the crime.

Gang members have been convicted under the doctrine, but the supreme court said it was not right someone could be convicted of murder if they just foresaw another person might commit a crime – they had to intend, help carry out, or encourage the crime actually resulting.

In Zborowski’s case the appeal court judge said jurors must have been sure, given the directions from the judge, the teen agreed to the plan knowing baseball bats would be used.

This meant there was an intent to cause at least grievous bodily harm to Mr Pocock, Mr Justice Sweeney said.

Sitting with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, and Mrs Justice May, he added: “Zborowski knew there was a plan to lure Mr Pocock to the beach and to attack him – he played a full part in the luring.

“He didn’t dissociate himself from it, whether at the time or afterwards – rather, he continued to act in concert with the others and only decided to break ranks in his fourth police interview.”

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