Teenager’s killer freed
Dean Davis: died after being shot in the head
Byline Nayab Chohan
A teenager who was jailed for killing a boy of 13 has walked free – six weeks after receiving his sentence. Dean Davis was killed as he watched DVDs with his friends when one of them put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger as a “prank”, believing it could not fire.
His killer, Renelle Coke, 18, was sentenced to two years in prison after the judge at his trial six weeks ago accepted his “genuine distress and remorse” over the shooting.
But Coke, who has already spent a year on remand, has been released under the socalled 50 per cent rule, under which it is usual for a criminal to serve only half of their term.
Dean’s family say they are disgusted that their son’s killer did not even serve the full time of his “derisory” sentence. Because the Attorney-General told them they would not be granted an appeal, they have now instructed their solicitor to bring a private civil claim for damages against Coke.
At the time of the sentencing, Dean’s family told the Evening Standard how they felt let down by the criminal justice system. They said Coke’s two-year sentence had only deepened their grief.
Now Dean’s brother, Warren, 23, an administrator, said: “We are taking this action to get us some justice. I want to highlight what my brother went through. He was the victim here – at the time of his death, he was surrounded by adults. They need to take responsibility for the fact that a 13-year-old boy was shot dead while they were there.
“I was thoroughly disgusted by the Attorney-General’s decision. He has robbed us of our chance to get a serious hearing. I don’t know what to say to the judge, except resign – he talked to the murderer as if he was the victim … He has been released two days to the year that he killed my brother. How can that be right?”
And Dean’s mother, Sylvia, 41, said: “No one tells us anything. We were told he was out on 30 June. Some people have told us he is already out. I can’t believe the justice system – it really isn’t fair to the victim’s family. We have suffered here. We are the ones who have been left with nothing. We have lost our world, our minds, and no one seems to care.”
Coke pleaded guilty to manslaughter and possessing the weapon, which was brought to the house in Walthamstow by another teenager.
The Old Bailey heard he loaded the Valtro 8000FS pistol with four bullets, pointed it at Dean’s head, then played with the hammer mechanism.
The gun fired at point-blank range, leaving Dean with severe injuries from which he died in hospital. Jailing Coke, Judge Hubert Dunn said: “It is an appalling, sad case. You are very young. It is a tragedy you will have to live with for the rest of your life.”
A spokesman for the Attorney-General said: “This was a tragic case and the Attorney-General has extended his deepest sympathies to the victim’s family. The Attorney-General has to take into account the relevant sentencing guidelines when deciding whether to refer a case to the Court of Appeal. His view was that in this case they did not provide grounds for a reference.”
Stuart Garcia, solicitor for Dean’s family, said the Crown Prosecution Service had believed the sentence given to Coke was “unduly lenient”.
He said: “The CPS said in a letter: ‘I would stress the senior prosecutor responsible for the handling of the case was as concerned at the actual sentence imposed’.”