Judge who jailed Kenneth Noye feared gangsters would kill victim’s girlfriend

The judge who jailed Kenneth Noye for murdering Stephen Cameron told how he feared the ­victim’s fiancee would be killed in a gangland revenge attack.

In a rare ­interview, Sir David Latham revealed there was evidence Danielle Cable’s life was at risk for testifying against the ­ruthless road rage monster.

He also claimed crooks tried to nobble the jury in Noye’s murder trial before it had even begun.

Sir David spoke just days after the detective who nailed the gangster, Nick Biddiss, warned Danielle will live in constant fear after he was freed from jail last week .

She is living under an assumed name, and the ex-judge insisted he will never forgive Noye for forcing her into hiding for the rest of her life.

Sir David, who was Justice Latham at the time of the trial, said: “That is the thing I find it very, very difficult to forgive Noye for, that we had to do that, to that girl.

“There was clear evidence that there were threats to her life for giving evidence.

“I think Noye has friends who are really quite powerful, who were not prepared to see him get convicted. Powerful criminal friends in the criminal establishment.

“It was quite disturbing but ­actually the thing that I was most confident about was that there was no threat to me and that is part of the whole criminal professionalism, so to speak, of Noye.

“He wouldn’t dream of ­threat­­ening a judge because it would not help him. But he would absolutely threaten a juror and I had real reason to believe that he lived in a world where nobbling a jury was a relatively common idea and undoubtedly happened.

“I had evidence beforehand that there was going to be an attempt to nobble the jury but the trial, fortunately, went off without incident.”

Stephen, 21, was stabbed to death on a slip road of the M25 in Swanley, Kent, in 1996. He died in Danielle’s arms.

Just 17 at the time, she was so determined to see Noye face justice she helped police identify him in a Spanish restaurant in 1998.

After killing Stephen, the thug –who took part in the 1983 £26mil­­lion Brink’s-Mat gold bullion robbery – had fled to ­Andalucia, where he had a plush villa.

Noye was extradited in May 1999 but forced Danielle to relive her nightmare in court by denying murder before his 2000 trial, which was held amid massive security.

He was found guilty and jailed for life, with a min­­imum term of 16 years.

The 72-year-old, believed to have salted away £5million from the Brink’s-Mat heist that allowed him to live a life of luxury in Spain, was freed last Thursday by the Parole Board.

But despite Danielle’s fears and the life sentence of pain Noye has left her and Stephen’s family with, Sir David, a former Lord Justice of Appeal and chairman of the Parole Board for England and Wales, insists it was right to free him.

He believes the biggest threat facing the crook is the pressure his criminal pals linked to the Brink’s-Mat robbery may bring to bear on him.

A trail of bodies has slowly mounted up with gangsters turning on each other in the wake of the heist.

Asked if Noye should have been locked up for the rest of his life, Sir David said: ­“Absolutely not. With him I am not entirely sure rehabilitation is the right word, I am a cynic about it.

“I think that a lot will depend upon how much money he has stacked away.

“He is not a ­psychopath, he is not someone I don’t think can never be trusted outside. I do not think that is the risk with him.

“The risk with him is if he goes back to organising serious crime and becomes involved again in planning, be that drugs or whatever.

“That is where the risk is, not that he would do another road rage thing.”

Speaking of the effects of Noye’s release on Stephen’s family, he added: “My message to them is that I completely understand their feelings.

“If somebody had killed a child of mine I would find it very, very difficult to understand how he or she could be allowed to be released to lead a normal life.

“But the fact is that society has gone through an agonising debate about what to do in that situation and has come to a conclusion that we should give the opportunity, except in very special ­circumstances, for somebody to be able to be released after serving a ­substantial amount of time in prison.”

Sir David, now living in ­retirement in the countryside, spoke of the trial, revealing he ­remembered thinking how ­remarkable it was that Noye was being tried for a crime totally unrelated to his usual activities.

He said: “He was respectful but I always got this feeling he was a very manipulative man and that was part and parcel of the character that he had built up.

“He knew, because the jury knew quite a lot about his ­background, that he had to make sure he presented himself as a reasonable, sensible man, involved in a very unfortunate incident which was nothing to do with his criminal career.

“I mean, it is bizarre. You can’t make a comparison with Al Capone or anyone like that but he went down for the longest stretch he has had to do as a result of a simple piece of human misbehaviour, not because he was a serious criminal.”

Sir David oversaw many trials in his career such as the 1993 case of serial killer Beverley Allitt, the nurse who murdered four children in her care and attempted to murder three others.

But he said of Noye: “In many ways he is perhaps the most interesting character because of the fact he is an intelligent man.

“Why did he go into crime? He comes across as a person where you think, ‘You could have done very well as a straight person’.”

Sir David said he did not believe the gangster fell into the same category of “wickedness” as some other crooks he has tried, despite his road rage killing, and, in 1985, the fatal stabbing of undercover policeman John Fordham after the officer was found in Noye’s garden.

He was acquitted of murder after claiming self-defence but found guilty of handling some of the Brink’s-Mat gold and jailed until 1994.

Noye is believed to be living in a bail hostel until he is allowed to return to his family home in Aylesford, Kent.

Fury at 'banal crime' remark

Sir David Latham controversially once described the murder of Stephen Cameron as “banal”.

He made the comments in an interview where he defended the term he set for killer Kenneth Noye.

The former judge said: “I don’t want to belittle it but it was a sort of banal offence.”

Asked about that this week, he insisted: “I meant it was an ordinary offence.

“Banal makes it sound as if it was a silly little offence. I did not mean that. Banal in the sense that it was an offence which anybody could do.

“It is not an offence which has the hallmarks of a criminal, or a psychopath. It sadly happens only too often.

“The circumstances were quite run of the mill.”

But former detective Nick Biddiss, who nailed Noye, said: “It’s outrageous. Banal in common English language is trite, commonplace, mundane.

“How can anyone describe an offence of murder in such terms – especially a member of the judiciary?

“This is the murder of a young lad of 21 who is laying in a grave in Swanley. Noye has ruined the life of a young girl and Stephen’s parents.”

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