The mother of a teenager stabbed to death by a gang in Leeds has defended legislation which allows multiple people to be convicted of a single murder.
Lorraine Fraser has called for the joint enterprise law to be protected after a group of MPs said it needed to be reviewed.
Ms Fraser’s son, Tyrone Clarke, was 16 when he was set upon by a mob in Brett Gardens, Beeston, in April 2004.
They attacked him with makeshift weapons, including baseball bats, poles and planks of wood. He died of stab wounds.
Four men were convicted of murder at Leeds Crown Court in 2005 and then lost appeals against their convictions.
Now the Justice Committee has said a shake-up could be needed to stop “minor” players being condemned to life in prison under joint enterprise for another person’s crime.
But Ms Fraser, of Pudsey, said the law was a vital deterrent.
“Before it started being used, people were getting away with murder and smiling about it because it couldn’t be proved that they had actually done it,” she said.
“When someone loses their life, if you’re involved – whatever part you took – you should go down for it.”
The Justice Committee said government advisers should consider changing the law so that secondary participants could only be charged with manslaughter and not murder.
Committee chairman Sir Alan Beith said: “The mandatory life sentence for murder means that an individual can be convicted and given a life sentence without the prosecution having to demonstrate that they had any intention of murder or serious bodily harm being committed, and where their involvement in a murder committed by someone else was minor and peripheral.”
But Ms Fraser said: “It’s about time this country grew a backbone. Everybody knows right from wrong and if you’re standing by when someone gets killed in my opinion that makes you just as guilty.”