New hope for appeal in Bentley case

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The Independent Online
Hopes were growing yesterday that the case of Derek Bentley, hanged for murdering a policeman in 1953, will be referred back to the Court of Appeal. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is said to be close to announcing its review of the conviction.

Campaigners said 19-year-old Bentley should never have been hanged for his part in the murder of Pc Sidney Miles during a bungled robbery in Croydon, South London, in 1952. His accomplice, Christopher Craig, fired the shot that killed Miles while Bentley was being held by another officer. Police said that before the shot was fired Bentley shouted to his accomplice: "Let him have it, Chris." The defence said Bentley was trying to persuade Craig to give up his weapon, while the prosecution alleged it was an instruction to fire. Craig and Bentley denied the words were said.

Craig, aged 16, was too young to be hanged and served 10 years, but although the jury recommended mercy, Lord Chief Justice Goddard gave the death sentence to Bentley, who had a mental age of 11.

In 1993 the then home secretary, Michael Howard, granted him a posthumous pardon but limited it to an admission that the death sentence should not have been imposed.