Sayers brothers secure ‘substantial’ payment from Crown for dismissed jury trial

The famous Sayers brothers have received a ‘substantial’ payment after filing a lawsuit against the Crown Prosecution Service.

John Henry Sayers, his brother Stephen and their friend Mark Rowe had accused prosecutors of withholding evidence that would have helped exonerate them while they were on trial for a conspiracy noblying the jury.

But now the Chronicle can exclusively reveal that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the trio.

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And the brothers have now received a substantial sum of money.

Today Stephen, 56, expressed his relief that the case was finally settled.

But he said no amount of money could compensate for the months he spent in pre-trial detention for a crime he did not commit.

Freddie Knights

He told the Chronicle: “I was taken into custody with my brother John and my friend Mark Rowe for a crime that we did not commit. The evidence against us was very, very weak.”

“I spent 15 months in pre-trial detention. This is a period that I will never return to.”

The case arose after John Henry was cleared of the murder of Freddie Knights, who was shot dead on his mother’s doorstep in Longbenton, in 2002.

Years later, John Henry, Stephen and their associate Rowe were charged with conspiring to hoover the jury during the murder trial and were charged with perverting the course of justice.

When the trio went on trial in 2010, it was alleged they ordered supergrass Errol Hay to make a threatening phone call to one of the jurors’ home in 2002.

The cocaine addict claimed he made the anonymous call threatening the juror’s family and offering them £10,000 if they “made the right decision”.

After making the initial call, Hay – a registered police informant – said he went to a second phone box in Hetton-le-Hole to call a second number.

But detectives found he couldn’t have made the calls.

Stephen Sayers (l) and John Henry Sayers
Stephen Sayers (l) and John Henry Sayers

Officers analyzed call records from the second box identified by Hay, but intelligence showed the call could not have been made from any of the 14 telephone boxes in Hetton-le-Hole.

The lawsuit fell apart, and while one of the nation’s top judges dismissed the case, he criticized the prosecution‘s handling of it.

Sitting under armed security at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Cooke said: ‘In my view, there was a deliberate and conscious decision to flout the disclosure rules in an attempt to present the least damaging confession possible.

“It happened over a long period of time with procrastination and dithering. Whether it was bad faith or a serious dereliction of duty is ultimately irrelevant to me.

“It was a gross failure which undoubtedly prejudiced the defendants and resulted in an unfair trial before this jury which is beyond remedy.

“This is in my view one of those rare cases where the abuse is so severe because the prosecution manipulated the court process and took advantage of it that they shouldn’t have gotten.”

John Henry Sayer
John Henry Sayer

David Kingsley Hyland OBE, who was the head of the Complex Cases Unit for Northumbria CPS, claimed he ‘took his eyes off the ball’ and insisted he intended to pass on information during the trial.

But Judge Cooke blasted the CPS, saying it had not been ‘full and candid’ in disclosing key evidence that would damage its case.

He said, “I have no doubt that [Mr Hyland] sought to minimize damage to Mr. Hay’s credibility and the prosecution’s case by making as limited an admission as possible.

He added: “The material was undoubtedly detrimental to the prosecution and aided the defendants’ case in what is essentially, from the prosecution’s perspective, a single witness case.”

Mark Rowe
Mark Rowe

Hay was diagnosed with a brain tumor just days before he was due to testify at the trial. It is also believed that Hay, who went under the knife just days after standing in the witness box, also suffered from lung cancer and died in 2011.

The Sayers brothers and Rowe agreed to the out-of-court settlement late last year.

The Chronicle has seen Newcastle County Court documents which order the CPS to pay the three plaintiffs an agreed sum.

It says: “Without admission of liability, the claim will be settled under the terms of the attached confidential schedule.”

The Sayers, from Elswick to Newcastle, gained a reputation as one of the most notorious mob families in the North East in the 1990s.

But in 2015 Stephen revealed he was turning his back on crime.

Stephen Sayers in Newcastle city center
Stephen Sayers in Newcastle city center

However, Stephen, who always believed his family was being persecuted because of their reputation, doesn’t feel like he’s shut down after receiving the settlement.

“It won’t end,” he said. “We’re retired now, but I don’t think we’ll ever be free. I’ve considered leaving the country because of it. It’s not a crime to be a Sayers, but I’m when even punished for it.”

A CPS spokesperson said: ‘The matter was concluded without an admission of liability and it would not be appropriate to comment further.’

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