Dean Copeland has been sentenced to 12 1/2 years imprisonment for manslaughter for the shooting of Sebastian Jamal Hyman-Knight after the prosecution accepted a plea of manslaughter. Hyman-Knight was shot on his own doorstep in Battersea in September 2014.
In this unique case, Dean Copeland had been tried twice for murder but on both occasions the juries had been discharged having been unable to reach a verdict.
The prosecution had argued that Copeland had gone to Battersea in order to assassinate Hyman-Knight. However, Copeland had said that he had gone to Hyman-Knight’s address unarmed to talk through an ongoing dispute and that it was Hyman-Knight who had been in possession of a gun. Following a short struggle Copeland managed to disarm him and only at that stage did he come into possession of the firearm.
Following the second trial, trial judge HHJ Wendy Joseph took the unusual step of granting the prosecution permission to try Copeland for a third time.
However in advance of the third trial, the prosecution agreed to accept a guilty plea to manslaughter on the basis of loss of control. This meant an acceptance by the prosecution that Copeland had indeed arrived unarmed and that having disarmed Hyman-Knight he shot him once in fear, having lost control.
Copeland was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court on 10th October 2016, bringing legal proceedings lasting over two years to an end.