Courtney Harriot, Paul Green, and Cleveland Davidson, three black men, were sentenced to prison on false testimony by a white police officer; They were between 17 and 20 years old when they were arrested in 1972. They and three of their friends were accused of trying to rob Derek Ridgwell at Stockwell tube station in south London. Five of them were convicted – largely on the basis of Ridgwell’s testimony.
During the trial, the defendants accused Ridgewell of lying. He and his colleagues also threatened and abused them.
“Honor Salvation” belated
Ridgewell was later sentenced to seven years in prison for theft. He died in prison in 1982 from complications of a heart attack. Prior to the Court of Appeals’ current decision, judges had already twice reviewed the convictions, which were based on Ridgwell’s incriminating statements.
Judge Julian Flukes said it was “extremely unfortunate” that the wrongly accused had waited nearly 50 years for the “injustice they were subjected to” to be “undone”. The men’s defense described the matter as “extremely troubling” because it took so long to overturn the sentences against their clients. Authorities have known about Ridgewell’s mistake since 1973.
One of the men now acquitted, Cleveland Davidson, called the appeals court’s decision a “salvation of honor.” He added that his conviction “shattered” his life. Ridgewell, the “confessional and evil cop”, has deliberately accused him and his friends.