I can still clear my name, says murderer freed after 22 years

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The Independent Online
Shortly after 9am yesterday Reg Dudley emerged from the gates of Ford Prison and sampled life as a free man for the first time in 22 years.

Waving briefly to photographers, he gazed out on the Sussex countryside as he sped back home to London in a Ford Granada in which his two grandchildren had been allowed to collect him from jail.

For almost a quarter of a century he has been pleading his innocence of one of the most gruesome crimes in modern criminal history.

Dudley, now 72, was one of two men convicted of the so-called Torso Murders, the brutal executions of two members of 1970s London gangland, Billy Moseley and Micky Cornwall.

Police said that Moseley had been tortured and his body chopped up and thrown into the Thames where his torso was later discovered washed up.

Cornwall, known as "The Laughing Bank Robber", was shot in the head and buried in a shallow grave.

Back in a park outside his daughter's home in Islington, North London yesterday afternoon, Dudley called a press conference to continue his campaign to clear his name, and that of his co-defendant.

"I don't feel bitter. I'm disgusted that the police can get away with what they did get away with. In the Seventies and Eighties all the police had to do was arrest somebody, frame them, say this and say that. It was all verbal," he said. "Nowadays, thanks to cases like ours, they have to have the tapes in."

Dudley, who complained of the "awful traffic jams" that have become a near permanent fixture in north London since he went inside, is looking forward to a visit to Arsenal's Highbury Stadium where the terraces and crush barriers of the Seventies have now been replaced plastic seats and executive boxes.

"I am over the moon to be out but I would be doubly over the moon if I had been pardoned," he said. "It won't be until a week's time when I realise I don't have to go back that the reality of freedom will really hit me."

At the trial, the prosecution alleged that Moseley was killed because of an affair he was having with another criminal's wife. Cornwall was killed because he was thought to be planning to avenge his friend's death.

Dudley, along with Bob Maynard now 58, were jailed at the Old Bailey in June 1977 after what was then the longest murder trial ever heard in Britain, stretching over 136 days. The Torso Murders gained further public notoriety after the trial when Moseley's head was discovered in a public lavatory in Islington. It had been kept in a deep freeze.

No forensic or identification evidence was produced at the trial and the pair were convicted on alleged confessions to police and prison informers which they deny making.

The case is being investigated by the Criminal Cases Review Commission which may refer it to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Dudley said: "I don't think the Commission are going to stand any nonsense and I am very confident that they will give us a good result."

Dudley and Maynard, who remains in Elmley Prison, Kent, were said by police to have reputations as "the hard men of north London".

The trial judge Mr Justice Swanwick had recommended they serve a minimum term of 15 years. But the men's refusal to admit their guilt apparently prejudiced their chances of release.

Remember when...

In 1975....

There was a Labour Government and Harold Wilson was Prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher was elected the new Tory Leader.

At Wimbledon, Arthur Ashe beat Jimmy Connors in the men's singles and Billie Jean King won the women's singles. The Grand National was sensationally won by L'Escargot.

Those topping the charts included the Bay City Rollers, Queen with `Bohemian Rhapsody', Telly Savalas and David Essex.

`Fawlty Towers' had its first showing on television

A pint of milk cost 6.5p, a pint of beer 22p and a bottle of wine 75p. A new Ford Cortina was only pounds 1,667.