David Wilson TV - Fred Dinenage TV - Daily Mirror - Let Him Have It Chris 1991
The Derek Bentley case is one of the most tragic and staining cases in the history of our criminal justice system. Professor David Wilson
On the evening of 2nd November 1952 gunshots echoed around Croydon in South London. A policeman had been killed and 19-year-old Derek Bentley stood accused of his murder. But he hadn’t pulled the trigger; the culprit was actually Bentley’s friend Christopher Craig. The legendary line ‘Let him have it’ has been immortalised in the big screen and in book. But did Bentley really utter those words, and what happened to his companion, Christopher Craig? Fred Dinenage’s Murder Casebook: Derek Bentley, 2011
It started out as a night of petty theft involving two teenagers. ibid.
Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig stood trial for murder at the Old Bailey. They both pleaded not guilty. The punishment for murder was hanging. However at just 16 the gunman Craig could only face imprisonment because of his age. But for Bentley aged 19 a guilty verdict would mean death. ibid.
At 9 a.m. on 28th January 1953 a crowd of around 500 gathered outside Wandsworth Prison and sang The Lord is My Shepherd and Abide with Me. ibid.
Derek Bentley was hanged for a murder he didn’t physically commit. He was the first and only person in the twentieth century to be executed in Britain for being an accomplice ... Many believe this case was one of the contributing factors that led to the permanent abolition of the death penalty in 1969. ibid.
The Court of Appeal quashed the murder conviction. ibid.
200 MPs Sign Plead – ‘Don’t Hang Him’. Police are called to Home Office Crowd. Bentley dies today – No Last-Minute Reprieve. Daily Mirror 28 January 1953
BENTLEY ... The last words that should shame British justice. Daily Mirror article
2nd November 1952 Croydon, South London: the police had received a call that two youths had been seen climbing on to the roof of a warehouse and attempted to break in. Great Crimes & Trials: Browne & Kennedy & Other Police Killers
The other boy pulled out a gun and shot Fairfax in the arm. Both Fairfax and his partner, Constable Norman Harrison, who had also reached the roof, heard the boy Fairfax had seized shout, ‘Let him have it, Chris,’ just before the shot was fired. ibid.
Derek Bentley, who had been captured so easily on the roof ... was mentally slow, illiterate and prone to epileptic fits. ibid.
Craig had encouraged Bentley to join him in various minor robberies. ibid.
The trial was to revolve around two points: had Bentley known that Craig was carrying a gun? And had his cry of, ‘Let him have it, Chris,’ been intended to encourage him to use it? ibid.
Craig was too young at 16 to receive a death sentence. ibid.
Derek Bentley was hanged on the morning of 28th January. There was a large crowd of protesters. ibid.
Kingswood Approved School 1951: Educationally, Derek has not been progressing. As you know his fits have been getting worse. Let Him Have It 1991 starring Christopher Eccleston & Paul Reynolds & Tom Courtenay & Tim Bell & Eileen Atkins & Rebecca Eccleston & Peter Eccleston & Craig Turner et al, director Paul Medak
Welcome to the underworld. I followed you from the corner – that’s where I hang out. ibid. Craig to Bentley
You’re one of us. ibid.
They said I was sub-normal. ibid. Bentley to Craig
My brother don’t want to go round with you no more. ibid. Bentley’s sister to Craig
Let him have it, Chris! ibid. Bentley
Surely these actions are more consistent with asking his friend to let them have the gun back? ibid. Bentley’s brief
Bentley didn’t have a gun. He never shot anyone. ibid.
These youths are not children. One is sixteen, the other nineteen. It would be idle to suggest they didn’t know what they were doing. ibid. Judge’s summing up
Did these two youths go out with a common purpose? ibid.