08:24, August 18 228 0 theguardian.com

2020-08-18 08:24:04
Court overturns man's conviction for girlfriend's Bestival drug death

The rapper Ceon Broughton has had his conviction for the manslaughter of his girlfriend overturned by the court of appeal.

Louella Fletcher-Michie, 24, died after taking the drug 2C-P at the Bestival music festival in September 2017.

Broughton, 31, who raps under the stage name CEONRPG, was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence after a trial in Winchester crown court in February last year. But the conviction and his sentence for eight years and six months was quashed on Tuesday on grounds of insufficient evidence to meet a criminal standard of proof.

Explaining the decision of the three judges, Lord Burnett said: “In our view, this is one of those rare cases where the expert evidence was all that the jury had to assist them in answering the question on causation.

“That expert evidence was not capable of establishing causation to the criminal standard. That Louella was deprived of a 90% chance of survival was an accurate reflection of [expert witness] Prof [Charles] Deakin’s evidence but, for the reasons we have explained, that is not enough.

“Put another way, if an operation carried a personal 10% risk of mortality, both patient and clinicians would be able confidently to say that the chances of survival were very high or very good but none could be sure.

“In respectful disagreement with the judge, we conclude that the appellant’s main argument, that the case should have been withdrawn from the jury, is established.

“The evidence adduced by the prosecution was incapable of proving causation to the criminal standard of proof.”

The original trial heard that Broughton supplied Fletcher-Michie, the daughter of the Holby City actor John Michie, with the hallucinogenic intoxicant 2-CP at the festival before she died.

Broughton did not get help because he had been handed a suspended jail term a month earlier and feared the consequences, the trial heard.

Stephen Kamlish QC, for Broughton, told the court of appeal: “The crown cannot prove, now or at trial, that she would have lived had she been treated.

“What the crown are arguing now is that by depriving the deceased of the chance of surviving via medical treatment she would have lived but that also means she might or might not have lived.”

He said Broughton had felt unable to leave Fletcher-Michie alone, in woods, while she was suffering a “bad trip”, and he had not realised she was at risk of death.

Kamlish added: “So in our submission, when one looks at the learned judge’s direction as to the ease or difficulty of obtaining help, if Louella could walk by herself it was difficult.” He said Deakin addressed whether medical intervention could have helped at trial while other experts focused on the cause of death.

Kamlish said the prosecution evidence did not prove causation against the defendant.

Broughton’s lawyers said he remains “devastated” by Fletcher-Michie’s death.

A statement issued by Birnberg Peirce solicitors said: “The court of appeal has today found that Louella’s death occurred not as a result of criminal negligence but was instead a tragic accident.

“Ceon remains devastated by her death. He has always wished that he could have done more to save her. He loved Louella and she him, but he knows that no words will ever be sufficient to convey his sense of responsibility for what happened or to begin to remove the pain that others have been caused.”

A representative for Fletcher-Michie’s family declined to comment.