Today, three more men finally had their names cleared as the Court of Appeal quashed their convictions after they were jailed nearly 50 years ago on the word of a detective with the British Transport Police who was later found to be corrupt.
Known as members of the ‘Stockwell Six’ the CCRC referred the cases of Paul Green, Courtney Harriot and Cleveland Davidson. The CPS confirmed they would not be opposing the three appeals in March of this year.
The three young friends were jailed in strikingly similar circumstances to the ‘Oval Four’ also involving DS Ridgewell. The detective was a member of the British Transport Police’s (BTPs) anti-mugging squad on the London Underground in the 1970s.
Counsel for the respondent, Andrew Johnson conceded that the convictions were unsafe on behalf of the CPS and said, “This was a shocking set of circumstances. It was quite apparent now and has been for many years that DS Ridgewell was a dishonest officer. Misconduct of an officer does not mean that every case where there was a conviction is unsafe, but in this case it is apparent that there was a clear lack of integrity. We accept that these appeals should be allowed and the names of the appellants, albeit many years later, should be cleared.”
Presiding Judge and Chancellor of the High Court, Lord Justice Flaux said: “The facts here are shocking. The appeals are allowed and all convictions should be quashed. It is most unfortunate that it has taken nearly 50 years to rectify the injustice suffered by these appellants.”
However, the CCRC is still attempting to trace the two remaining men they understand were also wrongly convicted.
“We are delighted that these three men have, quite rightly, had their convictions quashed in court today which is long overdue,” said Chairman of the CCRC, Helen Pitcher OBE. “Our attention now turns to the two men we have been trying to reach for some time now who were also wrongly accused many years ago.”
After attempting numerous ways to find them, the CCRC is urging the media, broadcasters and the public to join them in helping to spread the word. “We are desperate to find other men who were part of this group of friends so many years ago,” said Helen. “They too were convicted. By tracking them down we can take another step towards achieving justice and finally clear their names.”
The independent body set up to investigate miscarriages attempted to contact the pair using information obtained from other public bodies but have still been unable to find them. “It is clear to us that the wider media and social media could really boost our chances of tracing them by supporting this. It is entirely possible that they are now living in another country but the more coverage we get, the better our chances are of locating them.”
All six friends were charged with assault with intent to rob at the Stockwell tube station in 1972. The supposed victim of the alleged attempted robbery was Ridgewell himself. The events unfolded on the London underground, where the detective confronted young black men, accused them of theft and of making incriminating remarks. They were also accused of assaulting the police if they resisted arrest.
The sixth defendant was acquitted at trial, and it was Paul Green himself who contacted a third man, Cleveland Davidson, after his case was referred. Mr Davidson applied to the CCRC, and his case was also referred back in March.
This is the third time convictions have been quashed involving Ridgewell. Stephen Simmons’ 1976 case was the first. Mr Simmons had been accused and convicted of mailbag theft in 1976, which was quashed in 2018. This opened the door to other related appeals off the back of police misconduct by Ridgewell. In December 2019, four men, referred to as the Oval Four, Winston Trew, Omar Boucher, Sterling Christie and George Griffiths saw their 1972 convictions quashed too. At the time, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, told them: “Our regret is that it has taken so long for this injustice to be remedied.”
Winston Trew has since been a big advocate of the CCRC. Working closely with them concerning stakeholder engagement he is an important ambassador for those believing they have been subject to a miscarriage of justice, talking to National Prison Radio and openly relaying his own experience.
DS Ridgewell died in 1982 in prison, where he was serving a sentence for conspiracy to steal mailbags during his time as a police officer.
Do you know the men who were part of this group of friends? Is this you and you wish to come forward in a bid to clear your name? If so, please call our applicant telephone helpline 0300 456 2669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow our twitter account @ccrcupdate where you can also retweet our appeal.
Our Chairman, Helen Pitcher is free for interviews on this story and in an effort to find the two remaining members of the Stockwell Six.
To book an interview please contact the press office on 0121 232 0900 or email@example.com to book a slot.
- Tuesday 6 July from 3.30pm
- Wednesday 7 July 1pm-3pm or 4pm
- Thursday 8 July 11.30am -3.30pm
Notes to editors
This press release was issued by the Communications Team, Criminal Cases Review Commission. They can be contacted by phone on 0121 232 0900 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
- There are currently nine Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
- The Commission usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.
- The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
- More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate