Appeal rejected on jockey deaths

Peter Brown who was convicted of the manslaughter of two young jockeys. Picture by Ben Lack
Peter Brown who was convicted of the manslaughter of two young jockeys. Picture by Ben Lack

THE man convicted of the manslaughter of two young jockeys has lost his court appeal in a bid to have his conviction quashed.

Three top judges rejected claims by the lawyers for Peter Brown, 37, that the fire which took the lives of the two teenagers in a block of flats at Norton could have been accidental.

Jamie Kyne, 18, from Co Galway in Ireland, and Jan Wilson, 19, from Forfar in Angus, Scotland, died from the effects of smoke inhalation and burns in the fire in September 2009.

Brown, of Brotherton, was cleared of murder and also arson with intent to endanger life at his trial last autumn.

His barrister, Francis Watson QC, had said Brown “vehemently and comprehensively” denied he was responsible for their deaths. But the trial judge said the offence was “extremely serious” and the fire had claimed the lives of two young people who had embarked on promising careers. He sentenced Brown to an indeterminate period of imprisonment with a minimum of seven-and-a-half years.

Critics claimed the sentence was too lenient but Det Chief Insp Alan Carey, who led the investigation, said he was satisfied with the sentence and others pointed out that it was a minimum period.

DCI Carey said Brown had shown little or no remorse. He had refused to give evidence at the trial which meant he could not be cross-examined.

Following their deaths, flags flew at half-mast at racecourses around the country and jockeys wore black armbands as a show of respect. Hundreds of mourners from the racing fraternity packed St Leonard & St Mary’s RC Church in Malton.

The bodies of the two teenagers were taken back to their native areas where they were laid to rest.

The Malton branch of Racing Welfare helped people come to terms with the tragedy and they have been working with the wider community to decide on the best way to use the money raised from a special fund set up as a lasting tribute to the two. One idea is to set up an accommodation project for young people and jockeys in Malton.

At his appeal Brown’s lawyers argued his trial was unfair because the evidence did not rule out the possibility of an accidental blaze and that the trial was prejudiced by evidence given by tenants relating to his character.

The court heard Brown was the caretaker at Buckrose Court at the time.

On the night of September 5 2009 he had an argument with a couple in the block after he tried to get into a house party. It was claimed he left but returned shortly after 2am and around the time the fire started Brown was spotted on a landing muttering to himself and clutching a knife.

The court heard a fire alarm in the building had been tampered with by a knife in what was thought to be an attempt to disable it.

Lawyers for the Crown said Brown was impulsive, had a history of rowing with tenants in the building and was acting aggressively when the emergency services arrived.

Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting with Mr Justice Treacy and Judge Stephen Kramer QC, said: “We see no reason to doubt the safety of these convictions and the appeal is dismissed.”