‘Oval 4’ cases quashed after 47 years
AN innocent man was cleared yesterday – 47 years after being wrongly convicted on the evidence of a corrupt policeman.
Winston Trew, 69, and three others spent eight months in jail following their conviction after a five-week Old Bailey trial in 1972 of assaulting a police officer and attempted theft.
But the group, known as the Oval Four, always maintained their innocence.
They said they were “fitted up” by a British Transport Police detective sergeant whose career ended in disgrace when he was jailed for theft and died of a heart attack in prison.
Mr Trew, Sterling Christie, 69, George Griffiths, 67, and Constantine “Omar” Boucher, were arrested in 1972 at Oval Underground station in south London by a police unit known as “the mugging squad”, accused of stealing handbags.
The unit was run by Detective Sergeant Derek Ridgewell, who was involved in a number of high-profile, controversial cases in the early 1970s.
Mr Trew, Mr Christie and Mr Griffiths finally had their convictions overturned yesterday by the Court of Appeal in London, after a referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission earlier this year.
Mr Boucher’s conviction was not referred as the CCRC has been unable to trace him. Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Trew urged others who might have been wrongfully convicted as a result of Ridgewell’s misconduct to challenge their convictions.
He said: “If you are innocent, don’t give up.”
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett regretted it had taken so for the injustice to be remedied.
Innocent man... Winston Trew, left, outside London’s Royal Courts of Justice yesterday and, right, disgraced Detective Sergeant Derek Ridgewell