Oval Four: Men have convictions quashed in corrupt detective case

Winston Trew
Winston Trew said his life fell apart after he served eight months in prison

Three men who were jailed nearly 50 years ago on the evidence of a corrupt police officer have had their convictions quashed.

Winston Trew, Sterling Christie, George Griffiths and another man were accused of stealing handbags in 1972.

The group known as the Oval Four were jailed for eight months for assaulting a police officer and attempted theft.

The Court of Appeal overturned the convictions due to the unreliability of a detective’s evidence.

The judge described it as “a very unhappy story” and all three men thanked those who helped overturn their cases.

The men, who belonged to a political organisation representing black people in London, were aged between 19 and 23 at the time.

Image captionUniversity lecturer, Winston Trew, thanked those who helped overturn his conviction

Mr Trew, Mr Christie, now both 69, and Mr Griffiths, 67, were arrested with another man, Constantine “Omar” Boucher, at Oval tube station by officers who accused them of mugging women.

A plain clothes police operation was set up on the Northern Line led by Det Sgt Derek Ridgewell, who was later jailed for seven years for conspiracy to steal.

Judge Lord Burnett said there was “an accumulating body of evidence that points to the fundamental unreliability of evidence given by DS Ridgewell… and others of this specialist group”.

Mr Griffiths’ solicitor Jenny Wiltshire welcomed the decision, but said it was “deeply concerning that it has taken so long to happen”.

“Both the British Transport Police and the Home Office were warned about this police officer’s corrupt methods in 1973.

“They did nothing except move him to a different unit, where he continued to offend so that by 1980 he was serving a seven-year prison sentence for theft,” she added.

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