Lawyer to visit killer in prison to try to clear Buttershaw client of role in Bradford attack

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Laura Mitchell Laura Mitchell

A lawyer seeking to overturn the murder conviction of a young Bradford mother is to visit one of her co-defendants in prison in a bid to clear her name.

Laura Mitchell, 28, of Buttershaw, was convicted of the murder of dad-of-two Andrew Ayres in 2007 and lost an appeal against her conviction the following year, but still maintains her innocence.

She was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 13 and a half years before she can be considered for parole.

Similar sentences were imposed on her boyfriend Michael Hall, Henry Ballantyne and Carl Holmes.

Mr Ayres was beaten and kicked to death in the car park of the King’s Head pub in Halifax Road, Buttershaw, in January 2007, in a row over a taxi.

A mace, knuckleduster and CS spray were used during the gang attack – described by the judge as “brutal, intense and vicious” – with Holmes causing the fatal injuries by stamping on Mr Ayres’ head.

Now Mitchell’s solicitor, Derek Buxton, is to visit Holmes in prison to take a statement about the incident.

“I have been contacted by Carl Holmes’ mother, who has told me he had wanted to give evidence at the trial in support of Laura, but was unable to do so,” said Mr Buxton. “I am going to see him in prison in the next few days to take a statement from him.”

Mr Buxton said he was also following up calls he had received from relatives of two witnesses he was seeking who he believed could have vital new information.

Mitchell’s lawyers claim she took no part in the attack on Mr Ayres and the legal argument of joint enterprise was tentative.

But Appeal Court judge, Lord Justice Thomas, ruled Mitchell had started the trouble that led to Mr Ayres’ death and the jury was entitled to find the murder was a joint enterprise between Mitchell and a group of friends who acted like “absolute animals”.

Asked if friends and relatives of Mr Ayres would find it inappropriate for his client to try to overturn her conviction, Mr Buxton said: “You have got to respect that somebody died, and we must never forget that.

“But if someone is in prison who should not be in prison, all should be done to prove the innocence of that person, even if found guilty by a court.”

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