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Kwame Boateng was the prosecution barrister at the trial in September 2021 at Weatherfield Crown Court of Corey Brent and Kelly Neelan for the murder of Seb Franklin the previous May.

In some ways, his job was an easy one. There was never any question that both defendants were at the scene of the crime on Harper Street, and both were involved in the sequence of events that led up to the assault, the question under review at the trial was who had administered the fatal blows to Seb. Both defendants mounted their own defence, with each claiming that the other committed the crime. Imran Habeeb represented Kelly, and his ex-wife Sabeen Habeeb represented Corey.

At a pre-trial review a few days earlier, Imran asked for an adjournment on the basis that Corey had been named online in contravention of a previous order and this could prejudice the trial of both defendants. Kwame pointed out that the post had been taken down quickly, seen by few people, and a delay to the trial could cause distress to the deceased's family and witnesses. As Sabeen agreed with the prosecution, the judge ruled that although the online post was regrettable, there was no reason to call a halt to the proceedings.

When the trial proper began, Kwame made his opening address to the jury, saying that the crime was one of joint enterprise and that both defendants were guilty. As part of his evidence he played the 999 call that Seb made as he lay dying as well as calling the paramedic at the scene, a crime scene investigator, and a forensic pathologist about the head trauma that Seb suffered. DS Swain also gave evidence that blood stains were found on the shoes of both Corey and Kelly, with more on her dress, though Corey's clothing was missing as he had put them in a rucksack and thrown it into the River Irwell in an admitted panic.

The major prosecution witness was Nina Lucas, Seb's girlfriend and a goth whose appearance provided the supposed motivation for the attack, and who had also been assaulted mere yards away by Eli Higginson and Jay Dowling, two friends of Corey's. Such were the extent of her injuries, her recall of the events had been shaky at best but on the eve of the trial she produced a new statement after she had gone back to the scene of the crime for the first time, retracing her steps, which had resulted in her full memory returning. As this statement named Corey as the sole attacker, Sabeen challenged it on the basis that its timing was both convenient and suspicious, but the judge allowed it into evidence on the basis that Sabeen would be allowed to cross-examine Nina on the veracity of her words after Kwame had enabled her to tell her version of events. Corey's ex-girlfriend Asha Alahan also answered his questions about her boyfriend's strange behaviour on the night of the crime, and how he had pressured her to give him a false alibi for twenty-four hours until she had heard that Seb had died of his injuries.

On the third day, Mr Boateng's questions about the possibility of Kelly's washing blood off herself was challenged by Imran as conjecture but his objection was overruled by the judge. At the conclusion, the judge asked the forewoman for the jury's verdicts which were that Kelly was guilty while Corey was found not guilty. Later in the month, at the sentencing, Kwame asked for a twelve-year custodial sentence as a minimum, taking into account the unprovoked nature of the attack, Kelly's supposed lack of cooperation to the police as well as her lack of remorse towards the victim's family, the judge sentenced Kelly to life imprisonment with a minimum of fifteen years to be served.

Two months later, Corey's clothing had been recovered and forensic tests on this confirmed that he was the true culprit. Imran lost no time in applying to the court for an acquittal. Mr Boateng confirmed that the CPS would not seek a retrial if the conviction was quashed as there was no longer sufficient evidence to meet the treshold of joint enterprise. The appeal judge retired to consider her verdict, and soon returned to state that in her view the original verdict was unsafe and she was quashing the conviction for murder.

List of appearances

2021

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