November 7 1997BRITAIN Down


Bentley: hanged in 1953

Bentley case goes to appeal hearing


THE Court of Appeal is to reconsider the case of Derek Bentley, 44 years after he was hanged at the age of 19 for murdering a policeman.

The decision by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer the case for another hearing is a triumph for his family but comes too late for his sister, Iris, who died in January while still campaigning for a pardon.

His family has always maintained that Bentley, who had a mental age of 11, should not have been executed for his part in the killing of PC Sidney Miles during an attempted robbery at a warehouse in Croydon, South London, in 1952.

Yesterday's announcement is a result of new medical evidence and submissions of legal irregularities sent by lawyers acting for Maria Bentley-Dingwall, Bentley's niece, and Dennis Bentley, his brother.

PC Miles was shot dead by Christopher Craig, Bentley's accomplice, on the roof of the warehouse. Three police officers told their trial that moments before the shot, Bentley shouted: "Let him have it, Chris." Craig, who was too young to hang, was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. He was released in 1963.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, told the jury that when two people went on a criminal enterprise that ended in murder, both were guilty in law, whoever fired the shots. The jury was not told of Bentley's mental age.

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