Birmingham riot deaths CCTV footage found not to support prosecution case
Graphic CCTV footage of the Winson Green deaths formed the centrepiece of the prosecution.
Although the jury was instructed that the footage could not in itself be regarded as proof of murder, the crown claimed it showed an orchestrated three-car "chariot charge" planned in the minutes leading up to the fatal impact.
The prosecution said the jury could infer that an Audi was used to draw pedestrians into the roadway, while a Ford Fiesta performed the same function, as well as shielding the Mazda which struck the three victims after swerving towards them.
Mobile phone records, CCTV of vehicle movements in nearby streets, the destruction of a mobile phone, and a hand signal made from one of the cars, was cited in court as supporting evidence for the prosecution case.
But the defence described the claims of a murderous plan being hatched in a three-minute "window" before the deaths as implausible speculation which had put innocent men in the dock.
The three men driving the cars – Ian Beckford, Adam King and Joshua Donald – and their passengers variously described the prosecution's claim as "ridiculous" and "utter rubbish".
It was also argued by their lawyers that the three cars were under attack from a crowd, some masked and armed with sticks, bricks and, in one case, a sword.
Everton Graham, who was in the front passenger-seat of the Mazda, dismissed the crown's claim that the three vehicles carried out a plan after coming together in a nearby side street.
Graham told the prosecutor Timothy Spencer QC: "I don't know these people.
"I have never met them in my life – you have put us all in jail and charged us with murder."
Defence lawyer Paul Lewis QC, who represented driver of the Mazda, took the unusual step of making an opening speech to the jury at the start of his client's case.
Lewis urged jurors to set aside their emotions and to try the case with "objective and unbiased consideration".
He said the collision happened when the three cars involved were "under serious attack" from groups of men throwing bricks and missiles from both sides of the road.
"It occurred as the three unfortunate victims themselves stepped further into the road to attack the cars.
"It was a tragedy but it was an accident nonetheless."