Derek Bentley and Chris Craig

A bombing raid over London in 1941 resulted in a young boy, Derek Bentley to be trapped under piles of rubble which may of caused some brain damage, giving Derek Epilepsy. Several years later Derek ends up with some young vandals looking for trouble, Derek gets caught and his family assign him to an approved school. After his release at the age of 19, he spent the next year in his parents’ custody. During his release he refused to leave the house and often never left his room. His caring sister Iris builds up his confidence and Derek after a year went into the outside world again. It was hard for Derek doing simple things which we often take for an advantage, things like remembering song lyrics or giving the correct tokens. It was said he had the mental age of an 11 year old.Derek’s family weren’t really that well off so they could not pay for help for Derek. Apart form Iris, his family didn’t think highly of Derek and disapprove of what ever he did. Iris was the one who helped Derek the most she was the one who helped him gain confidence in himself.Chris Craig was the other participant to this case at the age of 16; Chris was a very family influenced teenager. His brother Nivan being a high-rolling gangster convinces Chris to lead a life of organised crime. Chris also had a fixation of firearms; he always carried a loaded firearm on his person and even traded them with people at school.Chris Craig latches onto Derek and lures him into a life of petty crime. Though Derek suspicious of Chris’ criminal activities, he is taken in by the attentions of Chris, who Derek sees as his friend. Chris soon introduced Derek to his brother and the rest of the gang. Nivan takes a shine to Derek and gives him a new jacket and a hat. They then head of down the harbour and raid some army supplies. Not knowing this was wrong Derek gave some of the goods stolen form the harbour, to his dad as a gift. His over protective parents got very suspicious and warned him about the danger of these wannabe gangsters.Chris tells Derek he wants to do a “job.” Derek finds the keys to the Butchers unattended and steals them in hope to break in later that night. Chris showed up with 2 other members of the gang. Chris gave Derek a knuckle duster, Derek thought nothing of it and just accepted it as a gift.To their dismay the butcher is working late and Chris has his ideas on something bigger like a warehouse. The 2 other gang members disagreed and left. Derek not really able to make his own decisions goes along with Chris. The 2 youths were spotted entering the premises and the police were called. The police soon arrived and Sergeant Fairfax climbed to the roof, and managed to grab Bentley and told him he could leave if he so wished but he did not. At this point, Bentley was to have supposed to have shouted “Let him have it Chris”. Craig then fired the gun hitting Fairfax in the arm. A group of police were sent to the roof. The first officer to appear on to the roof was Police Constable Miles. He was soon shot dead by Chris after receiving a fatal blow to the head. Exhausting his ammunition Craig headed for a ledge in which he threw himself off; seriously injuring himself, he was then arrested.Even if Craig was found guilty of murder, he could not be sentenced to death; as the minimum age for execution is 18. However, Bentley could be given the penalty of death as he was over 18.It came to the trial. The police seemed confused about how many shots were fired and by whom. Also the jury had to decide what was meant by Bentley’s phrase “Let him have it Chris” Did he mean that Craig was to hand over the gun to the officer and surrender or did he mean that Craig was to have shot the officer. Other evidence which may of lead to the jury’s decision was the fact that Derek was carrying a weapon on his person. Derek would also seem less convincing the jury because unlike Chris, Derek was unable to give persuading answers to the judge’s questions, not really surprising having the mental age of an 11 year old. The answers Chris gave were short sometimes saying as little as a word, it was obvious he didn’t care about what would happen to him and just wanted revenge for his brother. Derek on the other hand was confused by the questions asked, he sometimes agreed with things that weren’t necessarily true.His family created an appeal highlighting the facts that Derek shouldn’t have even been in court due to his mental age and the fact that he showed no intention of harming a police officer. Many people signed a petition they even got support from pc miles’ wife. The appeal was rejected by the Home Secretary – Lord Goddard, and Derek was executed on 28 January 1953.

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