Three black men who were wrongly jailed for the robbery of a corrupt policeman have had their convictions quashed at the Court of Appeal – nearly 50 years after they were charged.
Courtney Harriot, Paul Green and Cleveland Davidson, all aged between 17 and 20 at the time, were arrested on the London Underground while travelling from Stockwell station, south London, in February 1972.
The trio, now in their late 60s, and three friends - who became known as the “Stockwell Six” - were put on trial at the Old Bailey, largely on the word of British Transport Police officer Detective Sergeant Derek Ridgewell.
The Stockwell Six were accused of trying to rob Ridgewell, and all bar one were convicted and sent to prison or borstal, despite telling jurors that police officers had lied and subjected them to violence and threats.
At a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal cleared Mr Harriot, Mr Green and Mr Davidson’s names, nearly five decades after they were convicted.
Sir Julian Flaux, sitting with Mr Justice Linden and Mr Justice Wall, said: “It is most unfortunate that it has taken nearly 50 years to rectify the injustice suffered by these appellants.”
Speaking after the three had their names cleared Jenny Wiltshire, head of serious and general crime at Hickman & Rose Solicitors, which represented each at the hearing, said: “While the acquittal of these innocent men is welcome news, it is deeply troubling that it has taken so long to happen. These men’s entire adult lives have been blighted by false allegations made by a corrupt police officer known to have been dishonest for decades.
“Both the British Transport Police and the Home Office were warned about Ridgewell’s lies in 1973. Yet neither organisation did anything except move him to a different police unit.
“Even when Ridgewell was convicted of theft in 1980 they did not look again at the many clearly unsafe criminal convictions which had relied on his witness testimony.
“It is only now, almost half a century on, that the British Transport Police has indicated that it will review Ridgewell’s activities. For many of Ridgewell’s innocent victims and their families, it is far too little, far too late.”
Ridgewell was involved in a separate incident involving black men in 1972.
He framed four men known as the “Oval Four” for crimes they did not commit.
Winston Trew, Sterling Christie, George Griffiths and Constantine “Omar” Boucher were arrested at Oval underground station in 1972.
The operation was led by Ridgewell, who was also the key prosecution witness, but was later jailed for conspiracy to steal and died in prison.
His corruption caused the case to be reconsidered, and the convictions were formally quashed at the Court of Appeal.
All four men were convicted of assaulting a police officer and attempted theft, while Mr Christie was also convicted of the theft of a female police officer’s handbag.
They had their names cleared in 2019 after 47 years.
Additional reporting by Press Association