A TEENAGER who was convicted of killing his friend in a “vicious and sustained” assault has had his murder conviction quashed.
Andrew Parfinowski, 18, was convicted of murdering Brett Lodge, 17, after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in November last year.
Parfinowski, of Edinburgh, and his friend Declan Robertson, 17, were jailed for life for repeatedly striking defenceless Brett, of Midlothian, in Liberton in July 2012.
But on Tuesday appeal court judges ruled that Parfinowski was the victim of a “miscarriage of justice”.
They said that John Morris QC - the judge who heard the trial - was wrong not to allow the jury to consider convicting Parfinowski of the lesser charge of culpable homicide.
Lady Paton, Lord Drummond Young and Lady Dorrian ruled that the evidence against Parfinowski showed that he was guilty of the culpable homicide of Brett.
And they decided that Parfinowski should now be convicted on the lesser charge and serve a seven year jail term.
In a written judgement, Lady Dorrian wrote: “In our view the jury should have been directed that they could find the first accused guilty of murder and the appellant guilty of culpable homicide.
“In the result the misdirection, in our view, constituted a miscarriage of justice.
“We shall accordingly quash the conviction.”
Parfinowski began his appeal earlier this year - however, the proceedings could not be covered until Tuesday as the court had imposed reporting restrictions.
Schoolboy Brett died after he was attacked following an argument at a party on July 1 2012. He was repeatedly punched, kicked and hit.
The teenager suffered “catastrophic” head injuries and died in hospital eight days later.
Robertson and Parfinowski were convicted by a jury of murder. A third teenager, Cameron McKail, 17, was found guilty of assault.
During proceedings, the jury heard how Robertson struck Brett with a baseball bat.
Burly Parfinowski kicked Brett in the head whilst wearing a pair of canvas shoes. This took place after his pal struck the dying teenager with the bat.
Medical evidence showed that Robertson’s blows caused Brett to suffer serious injuries.
However, the medical evidence showed Parfinowski’s blows did not cause Brett to suffer injuries that would have caused his death.
Despite the medical evidence, judge Morris did not allow the jury to consider a verdict of culpable homicide for Parfinowski.
He only allowed the jury to consider the charge of murder for him.
The appeal court judges ruled that judge Morris was wrong and should have allowed the jury to consider convicting Parfinowski of culpable homicide.
Lady Dorrian wrote: “On the evidence, it could be said that there was scope for a finding that there were striking differences between the actions of the first accused and the appellant.
“The misdirection was a material one since it deprived the jury entirely of a line of reasoning which might have resulted in their distinguishing between the actings of the appellant and Robertson.”
On Tuesday, defence advocate Gordon Jackson QC told the appeal court that his client has been a model prisoner since being handed the life sentence.
He added: “He has gained certificates in communication, reading, writing and listening.
“He is considering becoming a peer literature tutor - that means he will be a mentor to those prisoners who cannot read or write; he will help them.
“He is making the best of his time there.”
The judges then ruled that Parfinowski’s murder conviction be quashed and that he should be convicted of culpable homicide.
Parfinowski was then told he would have to serve seven years in jail.
The sentence was backdated to November 2012 - the time when Parfinowski first entered jail.