Three innocent black men who were jailed nearly 50 years ago for claiming a corrupt police officer tried to rob him have had their sentences overturned by the appeals court.
Courtney Harriot, Paul Green and Cleveland Davidson, all aged 17 to 20 at the time, were arrested on the London Underground while traveling from Stockwell station in February 1972.
The trio, now in their sixties, and three friends – who became known as the Stockwell Six – were tried at the Old Bailey, largely on the word of the British Transport Police officer (BTP ), DS Derek Ridgewell, whom the force now recognizes as discredited.
The Stockwell Six were charged with attempting to rob Ridgewell and all except one were convicted and sent to jail or have an abortion, although they told jurors that the police had lied and subjected them to violence and threats.
In a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday, the appeals court cleared the names of Harriot, Green and Davidson, nearly five decades after their convictions.
Sir Julian Flaux, sitting with Judge Linden and Judge Wall, said: “It is very unfortunate that it has taken almost 50 years to rectify the injustice suffered by these appellants.”
“This is the justification that we were innocent at the time. We were only young then, we did nothing. It was a total sting, it was a stunt for nothing, ”Davidson said, speaking in court after the hearing.
He added: “For 50 years it affected me… I was not the same. My family didn’t believe me, nobody believed me because they thought “Well, you must have done something”.
“It turns out we were in the wrong place at the wrong time with a bad corrupt cop. Davidson described Ridgewell, the officer whose testimony helped convict him in 1972, as a “corrupt, wicked and evil police officer.”
But, despite the judges’ ruling, it is not believed that further convictions involving Ridgewell will be independently reviewed, with construction officials saying they can find no reason to be more concerned in their cases.
Jenny Wiltshire, of Hickman & Rose Solicitors, who represented the three men declared innocent by the court on Tuesday, said: “While the acquittal of these innocent men is good news, it is deeply disturbing that it has taken so long. to happen.
“These men’s entire adult lives have been ruined by false allegations made by a corrupt police officer known to be dishonest for decades.
“The UK Transport Police and Home Office were warned about Ridgewell’s lies in 1973. Yet neither organization did anything but transfer him to another police unit.
“Even when Ridgewell was convicted of theft in 1980, they failed to review the many clearly dangerous criminal convictions that had relied on his testimony.”
She added: “For many innocent Ridgewell victims and their families, it is far too little, far too late.”
Construction Deputy Police Chief Adrian Hanstock said: “It is very unfortunate that the criminal actions of a discredited former officer of this force more than four decades ago have led to these unfounded prosecutions.
“I wholeheartedly apologize for the distress, anxiety and impact this will undoubtedly have on those who have been wrongly convicted. We understand that nothing can ever make up for the length of time they spent in custody or the long term effect it may have had on them.
“We have reviewed all of the available records that suggest (Derek) Ridgewell was the senior officer in other investigations and have not identified any additional issues that we believe should be subject to external review.”