Published: 00:00, 23 October 2008
A Folkestone man who is facing life behind bars after being convicted of playing a part in a shotgun murder has won the right to challenge the jury’s guilty verdict.
Antony Parsons, 29, of Plain Road, was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court in March 2007 of taking part in the murder of Ben Chantler at his home in Denmark Street, Folkestone.
He was alleged to have knowingly driven the gunman, Stuart Benson, to and from the scene of the murder in 2006.
Mr Chantler died after being shot in the face by shotgun-wielding Benson, with whom he had a long-running feud.
Benson was also convicted of murder, jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison.
On Monday lawyers for Parsons took his case to the Court of Appeal, where they succeeded in persuading Lord Justice Leveson, Mr Justice David Clarke and Judge Morris QC that they had an arguable case that the jury’s verdict was unsafe.
The case will now go to a full hearing of the Court of Appeal, when they will attempt to persuade the court that an alternative verdict of manslaughter should have been left for the jury to consider if they were not convinced Parsons was guilty of murder.
Parsons always claimed that he was terrified of Benson and had only driven him to and from the scene because he feared for his own safety.
He said he had no idea that Benson was planning to kill or cause very serious bodily harm to Mr Chantler.
After giving an initial interview to police about the animosity between Benson and Mr Chantler, Parsons returned to the station to reveal his unwitting involvement as the get-away driver.
He said he had driven Benson to the scene and waited in the car. Minutes later, Benson appeared from around a corner and told him to drive away quickly. Terrified, he did as he was told.
Lord Justice Leveson said leave to appeal against conviction would be granted on the “possible availability of manslaughter as a verdict to the jury”.
No date was set for the hearing of the appeal.
If unsuccessful, Parsons will be condemned to serve a minimum of 24 years in prison.