Archive for Pardoned

28 January 1953 – Derek Bentley

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , , , , , on January 28 by Old Sparky

Derek Bentley

Scapegoat Derek Bentley infamously took the flack for a minor’s actions on this day in 1953.

Derek William Bentley was hanged at the age of 19 for a murder committed by a mate. He was in the midst of breaking into a warehouse in Croydon with ringleader 16-year-old Christopher Craig, when the police were called to the scene.

Bentley had already been apprehended when Craig fired the lethal shot that killed PC Sidney Miles. But Craig was just 16, so he couldn’t take the rap for the crime. So the prosecution turned to the only other suspect available.

Let him have it

Despite only having a mental age of 11, Bentley was 19 and legally old enough to be fitted up with the crime. Fellow police officers asserted that he goaded Craig by saying ‘Let him have it’, upon which the prosecution hanged their entire accusation.

However, Bentley’s defence asserted that he was appealing to Craig to let the policeman have his gun and Derek’s sister Iris always maintained he didn’t even say the fateful sentence. But his defence failed to sway the jurors and Bentley was found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to be hanged at Wandsworth Prison.

Not guilty

Bentley was granted a posthumous pardon following a 45-year campaign by his parents – which Iris took on after their deaths – to prove his innocence, in which scientific evidence emerged suggesting that the police had lied under oath. But, of course, that didn’t change the fact that it was too late – Bentley had already paid the ultimate price.

Christopher Eccleston puts in a stellar performance as Bentley in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and this is well worth checking out but you will need to be careful. I bought it in Woolworths for £2.99 and it came as a twin pack with Al’s Lads which, despite having Marc Warren in, is crap.

Also on this day

28 January 1829 – William Burke

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9 March 1950 – Timothy Evans

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on March 9 by Old Sparky
Timothy Evans

Timothy Evans

Poor old Timothy Evans. First his missus is killed by the guy downstairs. Then the guy downstairs gives evidence against him in court. Then he’s hanged for the crime.

Unfortunately for Tim the guy downstairs was serial sadist John Reginald Halliday Christie and although he didn’t know it at the time, when he moved into 10 Rillington Place in west London with his wife Beryl it was the beginning of the end for the whole family.

Beryl gave birth to the couple’s first child, Geraldine, in October 1948 and although Tim would often boast of the high-flying deals he’d done and the money he’d earned he was actually a bit of a wideboy prone to fanciful tales and the couple struggled to pay the bills and make ends meet.

So, when Beryl found herself pregnant again and the “kindly” gentleman downstairs offered to help her out of the family way the couple reluctantly agreed.

It was a decision that would prove to be fatal for all concerned.

First Christie gassed and strangled Beryl, then he persuaded Tim to do a bunk to avoid copping for any of the blame.

With the hapless Evans out the way Reg soon reneged on his promise to have baby Geraldine looked after by a nice couple in Acton…when he strangled her and placed her tiny corpse alongside her mother’s in an shed in his back yard.

The law soon caught up with Tim who’s low IQ didn’t do him any favours and when this was coupled with a confused confession it wasn’t long before he was off to Pentonville for a 9am appointment with Mr Pierrepoint and his ropey friend.

He was hanged aged 25 for the murder of his daughter and it would be another 16 years before he was eventually pardoned.

John Hurt stars as Tim alongside Richard Attenborough’s Christie in the 1970 film ’10 Rillington Place’.

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