No verdict in hitman case

TWO MEN accused of carrying out the contract killing of a businessman could face a retrial after a jury failed to reach verdicts last week. Douglas Johnson, 29, and friend David Austin, 42, allegedly murdered 50-year-old Charles Butler. He was shot outsid

TWO MEN accused of carrying out the contract killing of a businessman could face a retrial after a jury failed to reach verdicts last week.

Douglas Johnson, 29, and friend David Austin, 42, allegedly murdered 50-year-old Charles Butler.

He was shot outside his home in Green Lane, Dagenham, on November 13, 2004, and remained in a coma until he died on June 23, 2005.

CCTV cameras showed the killers' red Mazda driving up and down the road before Mr Butler returned at around midnight.


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As he parked his vehicle a gunman approached and opened fire.

Johnson and Austin both denied murder.

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Following a seven-week trial at the Old Bailey the jury was deadlocked after more than 24 hours of deliberations.

Judge David Paget QC discharged the jury on Friday April 3.

"With regret all I can do in these circumstances is discharge you from returning verdicts on count one for either defendant," he told them.

"I think it is fruitless to ask you to continue."

The case will be listed for a mention hearing on either May 1 or May 5 when the prosecution will confirm whether or not they will go ahead with a retrial.

Father-of-two Austin, of Dunley Drive, New Addington, Surrey, and Johnson, of Witley Crescent, New Addington, were remanded in custody.

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