Derek Bentley (aged 19 , illiterate and mentally subnormal with a mental age of 11 see pic) and Christopher Craig (aged 16) armed with a revolver (Colt .45) broke into a London warehouse (Barlow & Parker's Warehouse, Tanworth Road, Croydon)on 2nd November 1952. They were seen and police were called.
DS Frederick Fairfax climbed on to the roof, and managed to grab Bentley. Craig shouted defiantly at the detective and Bentley managed to break Fairfax's grip. At this point, Bentley is supposed to have shouted "Let him have it Chris".(Bentley himself denied having used the words and a police witness later denied it was ever said.) Craig then fired the gun grazing Firfax's shoulder despite this Fairfax continued after Bentley and managed to finally arrest him.
Bentley told Fairfax that Craig had a Colt .45 and plenty of ammunition.
More police arrived including PC Miles (42) He was immediately shot in the head by Craig and fell dead. Craig wildly used up the magazine, jumped from the roof, badly injured himself and was arrested.
Even if guilty Craig was too young to hang but Bentley wasn't.
At the trial before the hanging Judge Goddard (in whose house Ziz lived as a student when it became a Hall of Residence in the 60's) the police seemed unsure how many shots were fired and by whom. A ballistics expert failed to positively identify Craig's gun as the weapon that fired the bullet that killed PC Miles. What was meant by Bentley's phrase "Let him have it Chris"? Did he mean that Craig was to give the gun to the officer and surrender? Did he mean that Craig was indeed to shot the officer?
Lord Goddard told the jury that, in law, Bentley was equally guilty of firing the shot.
The jury took just 75 minutes to find both Craig and Bentley guilty of PC Miles' murder. Due to his being below 18 at the time of the offence, Craig was sentenced to being detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Bentley was sentenced to death and hung at Wandsworth on 28th January 1953. Exceptionally in such a case, the jury added a plea for mercy along with the guilty verdict.
Christopher Craig served 10 years in prison before being released.
Fairfax was awarded the George Cross . In addition Police Constables Norman Harrison (London Gazette 6 January 1953 Page 167) and James McDonald (London Gazette 6 January 1953 Page 167) were awarded the George Medal, Police Constable Robert Jaggs the British Empire Medal and Police Constable Miles was posthumously awarded the Queen's Police Medal for Gallantry.
On 30th July 1998, the Court of Appeal overturned the controversial conviction of Derek Bentley . In an unprecedented and damning attack, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, ruled that his predecessor and Bentley's trial judge, Lord Chief Justice Goddard, had denied Bentley "that fair trial that is the birthright of every British citizen." In a 52-page judgment, Lord Bingham placed the blame for the miscarriage of justice with Lord Goddard. Describing Lord Goddard as "blatantly prejudiced", Lord Bingham concluded that he had misdirected the jury and that in his summing-up had put unfair pressure on the jury to convict. The court also granted a full posthumous pardon to Bentley.
His sister Iris who had relentellsly campaigned on behalf of her brother died in 1997 and was never to learn of his pardon - although hinted at by Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary, who said Bently should never have been hanged.
Benedict Birnberg, a long-time lawyer for the Bentleys said the judgment was also a condemnation of the Home Office which repeatedly refused to re-open the case.
He told the BBC: "None of the fresh evidence which was put to them had any bearing on the matter.
"This was consistent with their attitude all the way through."
Anthony Samuelson a young QC at the trial said after the apeal : "It is not a question of whether he was the most frightening judge in this century. You have got to go back to Bloody Judge Jeffreys to find his like."
Craig and Bentley ... by the way .. were not black.