Two teenage boys

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Police hold back the crowd who are trying to see the notice telling of the execution of Derek Bentley at Wandsworth Jail. (POPPERFOTO/POPPERFOTO/GETTY IMAGES)

Police hold back the crowd who are trying to see the notice telling of the execution of Derek Bentley at Wandsworth Jail. (POPPERFOTO/POPPERFOTO/GETTY IMAGES)

“Let him have it”

?Derek William Bentley

?The execution of Derek Bentley, a mentally handicapped 19-year-old who was falsely convicted of murder, was pivotal in bringing about the end of capital punishment in Britain

“A victim of British justice”

Derek Bentley was hanged on the 28th of January 1953, at the age of 19 and the above words appear on his gravestone.

The Bentley case is one of the most controversial cases in British legal history.

The story starts on 2 November 1952. Two teenage boys, Christopher Craig and Derek Bentley tried to rob a factory, Barlow & Parker a wholesale confectioner’s in Tamworth Road, Croydon.

Chris was 16 and spent his time watching crime movies and reading crime comics. In his mind he was an American hoodlum. By contrast Derek was aged 18 but had a mental age of about 8.

As a child he lived in Blackfriars and his home was bombed in the Blitz. Derek received head injuries and was also epileptic and illiterate. He found it hard to make friends and was bullied at school. When Chris began to take an interest in him, Derek became infatuated. He would do everything Chris told him to do.

They were both extremely inept criminals.

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