Words by Ed King
After three days of deliberation, the jury for the Dea John Reid murder trial delivered their verdict at Birmingham Crown Court today – finding all the defendants not guilty of murder and assisting an offender.
One of the minors accused of murder, the teenager that delivered the fatal blow, was found guilty of manslaughter, with sentencing set for 5 May.
With all five defendants accused of murder as a joint enterprise, once one verdict of not guilty was returned it paved the way for the rest to likewise be acquitted of murder.
Hollie Davis (36, Castle Bromwich) who had been on bail after being charged with assisting an offender, was also found not guilty.
The others found not guilty of any crime, including George Khan (39, Kingstanding) and Michael Shields (36, Castle Bromwich) – who had been remanded on custody since their arrest – would be back home as soon as the court could process the relevant paperwork for their release.
In a case that has gone on for almost a year, tears of relief were shed both inside and outside the courtroom as friends and family members of those accused had been waiting at Birmingham Crown Court since Monday to hear the jury’s verdict.
Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed on Collage Road in Kingstanding on 31 May 2021, following incidents earlier in the day where he and a group he was with had attempted to rob the minors eventually accused of his murder.
Throughout the trial, extensive CCTV footage had showed Dea John Reid and his group coming into Kingstanding from Perry Barr – including the moments when both groups had met and the attempted robbery had taken place.
If found guilty of murder, the adults accused could have spent the rest of their lives in prison – with a ‘whole life order’ as a possible starting point for sentencing. As minors, the teenagers accused could have faced custodial sentences of a minimum of 12 years before being eligible for parole.
Before the jury returned to deliver their verdict, the presiding judge – Mr Justice Johnson – asked members of the public present to “control themselves” as the court would not tolerate any “outbursts” once the verdict had been read.
Dressed in white shirts and black ties, George Khan and Michael Shields hung their heads and looked down at the floor upon hearing the verdict of not guilty – with both wiping tears of relief from their faces.
However, for Dea John Reid’s mother and brother, who were present in the courtroom as the jury delivered their verdict, the judgement was a bitter blow for a family that has suffered such a tragic loss – as no murder charge was upheld.
Dea John Reid’s family, accompanied by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, left Birmingham Crown Court calmly and quickly, and were initially unavailable for comment.
In a later statement, as the official family spokesperson, Bishop Jaddoo stated:
“Dea John was a well loved, brother and uncle. His family are mortified at the verdict and are of the opinion that is no justice for Dea John.
“The evidence clearly shows intent with a young man with a balaclava over his face and wearing a hood chasing Dea John with a knife and inflicting a stab wound to his (Dea John) chest and is not reflected in the jury’s decision.
“Many will say, where is the justice for Dea John.”
Bishop Jaddoo went on the say, on behalf of Dea John’s family, that whilst they were “mortified” with the verdict they wanted to thank West Midlands Police for the “support and the thorough investigation” they had conducted.
Kate Seal, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, stated: “I cannot begin to imagine the crippling sense of loss felt by Dea-John’s family and friends.
“The verdict of manslaughter will not undo the devastation felt by so many at the senseless loss of a young life.
“Such unnecessary violence has no place in our society and the death of Dea-John Reid should have never happened.
“The irrational use of violence that is now prevalent on our streets and in our communities must cease if we are to prevent further tragedies among our youth. While no verdict can return Dea-John to his family, my thoughts remain with them.”
Sentencing for the minor now found guilty of manslaughter will take place at Birmingham Crown Court on 5 May.