Episode 9 Murder, Mystery and My Family


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS


Episode 9

Barristers Sasha Wass and Jeremy Dein investigate a gang-related murder in Clapham Common in 1953 that left one teenager dead and another man sentenced to hang.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 9. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

The British justice system is the envy of the world.

0:00:020:00:05

But in the past, mistakes have been made.

0:00:050:00:08

Between the year 1900 and the year 1964,

0:00:080:00:11

approximately 800 people were hanged in the United Kingdom.

0:00:110:00:15

Many of those desperately protested their innocence.

0:00:150:00:19

Some of these long-standing convictions

0:00:190:00:22

could be a miscarriage of justice.

0:00:220:00:24

She's received most of the blows in this position.

0:00:240:00:28

In this series, a living relative will attempt

0:00:280:00:30

to clear their family name.

0:00:300:00:32

So sad, so sad that she never had a life...

0:00:320:00:36

Searching for new evidence...

0:00:360:00:38

I can make the .32 fire both calibres.

0:00:380:00:41

..with help from two of the UK's leading barristers,

0:00:440:00:48

one for the defence...

0:00:480:00:50

This is a very worrying case.

0:00:500:00:52

I think the evidence is very suspect.

0:00:520:00:54

..and one for the prosecution.

0:00:540:00:56

I'm still of the view that this was a cogent case of murder,

0:00:560:01:00

committed during the course of a robbery.

0:01:000:01:04

They're on a mission to solve the mystery,

0:01:040:01:06

submitting their findings to a senior Crown Court judge.

0:01:060:01:10

There is a real risk that there has been a miscarriage of justice here.

0:01:100:01:15

I will look again at the evidence in the light of the arguments

0:01:150:01:18

that you both have put before me.

0:01:180:01:20

Can this modern investigation rewrite history?

0:01:200:01:24

On a summer's night in 1953,

0:01:330:01:36

around the bandstand on Clapham Common in South London,

0:01:360:01:39

groups of local youths were gathered.

0:01:390:01:41

Some were dressed smartly in suits, with greased back hair.

0:01:430:01:46

Now an iconic look, these teenagers were known as Teddy boys.

0:01:480:01:52

An insult directed at one Teddy boy,

0:01:550:01:57

a member of the so-called Plough Boys gang,

0:01:570:02:00

named after the pub in which they drank,

0:02:000:02:02

sparked a row and then a brawl.

0:02:020:02:04

Three people were stabbed.

0:02:050:02:07

17-year-old John Beckley died of his wounds.

0:02:070:02:11

Six youths were charged in connection with the killing,

0:02:120:02:16

but in the end, only one, Michael Davies, stood trial for murder.

0:02:160:02:21

On October 22, 1953, he was found guilty and sentenced to hang.

0:02:220:02:27

He was just 20 years old.

0:02:290:02:31

Michael was my uncle.

0:02:330:02:35

He was actually my mum's brother.

0:02:350:02:36

He was a good, fun sort of man, played jokes with me all the time.

0:02:360:02:40

I think it would be very difficult to think of him

0:02:400:02:43

as actually stabbing someone.

0:02:430:02:44

Michael Davies' niece, Sharon Sweeting,

0:02:460:02:49

and family friend, Anne Biles,

0:02:490:02:51

want to understand how Michael Davies

0:02:510:02:53

was the only member of the gang who came to face the rope.

0:02:530:02:57

That's a nice photograph, Sharon.

0:02:580:02:59

-That's my mum and dad's wedding.

-Right, yes.

0:02:590:03:02

-There's Michael.

-So he would have been 16 then.

0:03:020:03:05

Yes, I was going to say, he looks young.

0:03:050:03:06

There are a lot of unanswered questions.

0:03:060:03:10

There was a sort of race or chase down to the bus stop,

0:03:100:03:14

with one gang chasing the other.

0:03:140:03:16

They were all the same height, same build,

0:03:160:03:19

it could have been any of them,

0:03:190:03:21

and that does bring doubt into your mind, a lot.

0:03:210:03:25

Michael was never executed.

0:03:250:03:27

His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

0:03:270:03:30

He served only seven years before being released,

0:03:310:03:34

but was never exonerated.

0:03:340:03:36

It's left a cloud over the family.

0:03:360:03:39

Well, I find it difficult to understand

0:03:410:03:44

how he was sentenced to death,

0:03:440:03:46

then it was changed to life imprisonment,

0:03:460:03:50

and then the sentence was reduced to seven years.

0:03:500:03:53

It doesn't tally at all.

0:03:530:03:55

Michael Davies died in 1992,

0:03:550:03:58

still protesting his innocence.

0:03:580:04:01

It would be nice to have closure,

0:04:010:04:03

and I just need to know whether he is guilty or not.

0:04:030:04:06

I would certainly like him to be cleared,

0:04:070:04:10

because it would be nice to know that,

0:04:100:04:14

no, there wasn't a murderer in their family.

0:04:140:04:17

To get to the bottom of Michael Davies' case,

0:04:220:04:25

Sharon and Anne are relying on two of the country's best legal minds.

0:04:250:04:29

Jeremy Dein QC is a top defence barrister,

0:04:310:04:33

specialising in murder cases.

0:04:330:04:35

Sasha Wass QC has prosecuted some of the UK's most notorious felons.

0:04:380:04:43

Before they begin their investigation into Michael Davies' case,

0:04:450:04:48

the barristers want to meet Sharon and Anne.

0:04:480:04:51

Innocent or not,

0:04:520:04:53

Michael Davies' case was a dark secret in the family,

0:04:530:04:56

and never spoken of.

0:04:560:04:58

Hello, there. Hello, Sharon. Sasha.

0:04:580:05:00

Sharon didn't find out about it until the 1980s.

0:05:000:05:04

Can you tell us, when did you first become aware of the case?

0:05:050:05:09

-Um, quite a few years ago.

-OK.

-It was just by accident.

0:05:090:05:12

My ex-husband was looking at a magazine on the Tube,

0:05:120:05:16

-and opened it up, and there was this picture...

-Yes.

-..and all about it.

0:05:160:05:20

-How did that make you feel?

-Shocked.

0:05:200:05:22

Because nobody sort of mentioned it at all,

0:05:230:05:26

it was just put under the carpet.

0:05:260:05:27

And I can understand the reasons why,

0:05:270:05:29

-but it was a shock to find out the way I did.

-Mm.

0:05:290:05:32

Are you hoping for a particular outcome,

0:05:320:05:35

as far as this investigation is concerned?

0:05:350:05:37

Well, I'm just hoping that the outcome will be a truthful one,

0:05:370:05:39

-but it would just be nice to know someone else's opinion.

-Of course.

0:05:390:05:43

My target is to find something different to what's been argued

0:05:430:05:47

in the past, so that we can show

0:05:470:05:50

that Michael Davies' conviction was unsafe.

0:05:500:05:53

My role is really to try and step back a little bit

0:05:530:05:56

and look at the evidence, but be quite critical.

0:05:560:05:58

But I will keep a completely open mind, and I'm not frightened,

0:05:580:06:02

having looked at all the evidence,

0:06:020:06:04

to stand up and say, these verdicts are not safe, all right.

0:06:040:06:07

-That's all we can ask for, really.

-Yes, that's right.

0:06:070:06:10

Sometimes, in these investigations, the case gets stronger.

0:06:100:06:13

If it was a negative conclusion, you'd accept that?

0:06:130:06:16

Yes, yes, whatever it is, we would accept, obviously.

0:06:160:06:19

Well, that's what we'll be working towards.

0:06:190:06:22

-That sounds lovely, yes.

-Very nice to meet you both.

0:06:220:06:24

-And you. Thank you.

-Thank you, Jeremy.

0:06:240:06:27

The barristers' curiosity has been piqued

0:06:290:06:31

by this case's strange history.

0:06:310:06:33

How does a man sentenced to hang,

0:06:350:06:38

and who remains a murderer in the eyes of the law,

0:06:380:06:40

get released by the Home Secretary after just seven years?

0:06:400:06:44

Plainly, the Home Secretary knew something.

0:06:470:06:50

But what?

0:06:500:06:51

Sasha and Jeremy want to find out.

0:06:510:06:54

They will take any evidence they uncover to a judge,

0:06:560:06:59

who could recommend the case for review,

0:06:590:07:01

or confirm the original guilty verdict.

0:07:010:07:04

But first, the barristers need to get to grips with the key facts

0:07:070:07:11

of an intriguing case.

0:07:110:07:13

So, Jeremy, this was a killing that took place during an attack...

0:07:150:07:18

..by a group of Teddy boys in 1953,

0:07:200:07:24

after one of their members had been insulted by four other youths.

0:07:240:07:29

And when those youths walked away from him,

0:07:290:07:32

they reached nearer here, which was where the water fountain

0:07:320:07:35

in Clapham Common was, and those four youths were then attacked

0:07:350:07:40

by the other members of the Plough Boys gang.

0:07:400:07:44

And the fight progressed up there

0:07:440:07:47

and it reached the area of the main road here,

0:07:470:07:50

and at the same time a bus was going across here

0:07:500:07:54

and several of the eyewitnesses saw the fight take place.

0:07:540:07:59

Three of them received injuries

0:07:590:08:02

and 17-year-old John Beckley collapsed and died, about here,

0:08:020:08:08

of his knife injuries.

0:08:080:08:12

Well, Sasha, this case has all the hallmarks

0:08:120:08:15

of a gang-related incident, doesn't it.

0:08:150:08:18

And you and I know just how difficult and complex this type

0:08:180:08:22

of situation is for the criminal justice process.

0:08:220:08:26

Originally, all six of the attackers were accused of murder.

0:08:280:08:32

But in the end, only Michael Davies stood trial for his life.

0:08:340:08:38

He had been the first to admit he had been involved in the fight,

0:08:390:08:43

though he insisted he had never used a knife.

0:08:430:08:46

The big question here is,

0:08:460:08:48

did Michael Davies just take the can because someone had to,

0:08:480:08:53

or was he the right person?

0:08:530:08:55

And that's what we need to look at very, very carefully.

0:08:550:08:58

Britain the 1950s was still a place of rationing and post-war austerity.

0:08:590:09:04

But those dark days were starting to give way to optimism

0:09:060:09:10

and greater affluence.

0:09:100:09:11

Teenage boys wanted styles of dress that distinguished them

0:09:130:09:16

from their fathers.

0:09:160:09:18

The so-called Teddy boy fashion was probably the first of these.

0:09:200:09:24

Sharon and Anne have come to Clapham Common

0:09:280:09:31

to meet veteran Teddy boy, John van Rheede Toas.

0:09:310:09:35

They want to find out more about this colourful group,

0:09:350:09:38

the attractions it held for Michael and many like him.

0:09:380:09:40

Good afternoon, ladies.

0:09:420:09:43

And how one summer's evening, six decades ago, it turned to murder.

0:09:430:09:48

-You look very smart.

-Yeah.

0:09:480:09:51

-I'm trying to reach the original look.

-Oh, it's nice, yes.

0:09:510:09:54

-I didn't really know what it actually entailed at the time.

-No, no.

0:09:540:09:58

Well, I replicate it and I copy it.

0:09:580:10:01

So how different would it have been when he was one?

0:10:010:10:04

Well, the style wouldn't have been a lot different to what I'm wearing.

0:10:040:10:08

The Teddy boy was a fashion to start off with.

0:10:080:10:11

And it started off in about 1948 with the Savile Row tailors

0:10:110:10:14

wanting to bring the Edwardian style back, to try and get away from where

0:10:140:10:18

-everything was grey and boring.

-Yeah.

0:10:180:10:20

And it was all about impressing the girls,

0:10:200:10:22

-strutting their stuff and showing off.

-Yeah.

-Mm.

0:10:220:10:26

How do you think all this violence occurred...

0:10:260:10:29

-Right, well, I think...

-..with the Teddy boys?

0:10:290:10:32

I think the thing is, it was all about the image

0:10:320:10:34

and looking tough and wanting to be tough.

0:10:340:10:37

But this was the first time that Teddy boys had actually

0:10:370:10:41

been convicted for murder

0:10:410:10:42

and using, openly using weapons and killing somebody.

0:10:420:10:46

So do you think it made a difference to the rest of them afterwards?

0:10:460:10:49

This one incident, I would say, gave the Teddy boys

0:10:490:10:54

-this bad name from there on in.

-Right.

0:10:540:10:58

And it got this badge, if you like, of violence,

0:10:580:11:01

that people shunned Teddy boys and they saw them as a social menace.

0:11:010:11:06

-Yeah.

-Right.

0:11:060:11:07

Among the many peculiarities of this case is that there were two trials.

0:11:130:11:17

The first one started with six defendants

0:11:190:11:22

but quickly, four of the gang pleaded guilty to minor offences.

0:11:220:11:25

Only two men, Ron Coleman and Michael Davies,

0:11:270:11:30

stood trial for murder.

0:11:300:11:33

But when the jury failed to reach a verdict,

0:11:330:11:35

the Crown dropped the charges against Coleman.

0:11:350:11:38

And when the second trial began,

0:11:390:11:41

Michael Davies was alone in the dock.

0:11:410:11:43

The jury couldn't agree on a verdict, which is notable.

0:11:450:11:49

At that stage, at the end of the first trial, before the second trial,

0:11:490:11:53

the decision was made to proceed against Michael Davies alone, for murder.

0:11:530:11:58

But the question arises, well, how is it that the prosecution

0:11:580:12:02

were determined to proceed against Michael Davies

0:12:020:12:05

to the point eventually of a death sentence,

0:12:050:12:08

whereas the others all pleaded guilty to a much lesser offences

0:12:080:12:12

and got much, much lesser sentences?

0:12:120:12:15

On the face of it, they had every reason to shift the blame

0:12:150:12:19

-from themselves and put the spotlight on Michael Davies.

-Yes.

0:12:190:12:22

So we need to look at this and see whether we can find out

0:12:220:12:25

what actually took place.

0:12:250:12:27

As well as the barristers,

0:12:300:12:33

this is a journey of discovery for Sharon and Anne,

0:12:330:12:36

and one that begins at the bandstand on Clapham Common.

0:12:360:12:39

On the night of the incident, the band would have been playing here

0:12:410:12:45

and the incident started by some benches.

0:12:450:12:48

Four particular individuals, one of which was the deceased,

0:12:480:12:52

they were sitting on a bench opposite each other

0:12:520:12:55

and one of the Plough Boys, Ron Coleman,

0:12:550:12:58

who was a defendant in this case, tried to walk through.

0:12:580:13:01

The boys stuck their legs out, were being obstructive

0:13:010:13:05

and started making rather offensive remarks

0:13:050:13:08

about Ron Coleman's clothing.

0:13:080:13:10

He walked through and eventually teamed up

0:13:100:13:13

with other members of his gang, the Plough Boys,

0:13:130:13:17

one of which was Michael Davies.

0:13:170:13:19

The four guys sat on the benches decided it was time to go,

0:13:210:13:25

otherwise they were going to get beaten up.

0:13:250:13:29

So they started walking towards the north side.

0:13:290:13:31

The four made it as far as a water fountain

0:13:330:13:35

before the Plough Boys ran them down.

0:13:350:13:38

All that's been taken away now,

0:13:390:13:41

this was the original location of the fountain, right.

0:13:410:13:43

So the boys would have run all the way, obviously from the bandstand,

0:13:430:13:47

up to this point where, if you like, they bomb burst every way

0:13:470:13:51

in different directions, trying to get away from the Plough Boys.

0:13:510:13:55

Two of them managed to get on to the Underground.

0:13:570:13:59

Beckley and Chandler got on to a 137 bus...

0:14:010:14:06

..and the bus slowly moved towards the next stop.

0:14:090:14:13

OK, we get to the point now in the story where the bus

0:14:170:14:21

obviously slowed down completely in traffic.

0:14:210:14:24

The Plough Boys have now caught up and literally this is the point

0:14:240:14:28

where they were dragged off the bus.

0:14:280:14:30

There was a big scuffle and there was a big fight at this point.

0:14:300:14:32

-So this is when the incident started to unfold...

-Exactly.

0:14:350:14:39

-..and tensions were heightened...

-Exactly.

0:14:390:14:42

-And matters became serious.

-Yeah.

0:14:420:14:44

Because it would appear that it was at that stage

0:14:440:14:48

that the stabbing took place.

0:14:480:14:50

We finally arrive at Okeover Manor

0:14:550:14:57

and this was the point where John Beckley couldn't cope any longer.

0:14:570:15:02

He'd run out of energy, he run about another 100 yards

0:15:030:15:06

and he just literally slumped against the wall,

0:15:060:15:09

due to his stab wounds.

0:15:090:15:11

Obviously, he dies, does John Beckley.

0:15:140:15:16

It was a chaotic situation.

0:15:170:15:19

But one key eyewitness identified Michael Davies as the knifeman.

0:15:210:15:25

She'd had a grandstand view from the top deck of the very bus

0:15:270:15:31

from which John Beckley had been dragged.

0:15:310:15:33

She was on top of that bus, it was 20 to ten at night,

0:15:350:15:38

it was not the best light at all.

0:15:380:15:42

In the context of this quick, scary incident,

0:15:420:15:46

this begs the question of whether this person was Michael Davies.

0:15:460:15:50

This is one eyewitness in highly unsatisfactory circumstances.

0:15:500:15:55

Don't you agree?

0:15:550:15:57

Well, I do agree but...that is the nature of eyewitness testimony

0:15:570:16:01

wherever there is a fault.

0:16:010:16:03

-Fallibility, it's also the fallibility of eyewitness...

-Exactly, I agree.

0:16:030:16:07

John Beckley had been stabbed to death

0:16:070:16:10

but no murder weapon had been recovered.

0:16:100:16:12

-Hello, John.

-Hello.

0:16:120:16:14

Even descriptions of it were confused.

0:16:140:16:16

-Now, you're an armourer...

-I am.

0:16:180:16:20

..and you've come to help us with the case of Michael Davies,

0:16:200:16:24

where a knife was used to cause death,

0:16:240:16:27

but the knife in question was never found by the police.

0:16:270:16:30

That's right.

0:16:300:16:32

What we do have is a description given by one of the main prosecution

0:16:320:16:37

witnesses, a woman called Mary Frayling,

0:16:370:16:40

who said she saw what happened from the top of a bus

0:16:400:16:43

and she said that she saw what she thought

0:16:430:16:47

was either a razor or a penknife being used.

0:16:470:16:51

And she used the colour green to describe the penknife.

0:16:510:16:55

So can you talk us through some of the weapons

0:16:550:16:57

-that you've got before you today?

-OK.

0:16:570:17:01

Well, you mentioned the cut-throat razor.

0:17:010:17:03

This here is a cut-throat razor.

0:17:030:17:05

As you can see, it's quite a large weapon

0:17:050:17:08

and under the evidence that was given, it was folding away.

0:17:080:17:11

The problem with this weapon, if it was used in a stabbing motion,

0:17:110:17:14

it's completely blunt at the end, so you couldn't stab anybody with it.

0:17:140:17:17

So one of the two types of weapon she described

0:17:170:17:19

-is simply not applicable.

-Not applicable.

-Right.

0:17:190:17:22

So cut-throat razor no, not for stabbing.

0:17:220:17:24

OK, this is a period flick knife.

0:17:240:17:27

This is the sort of weapon that could be used

0:17:280:17:31

to inflict a stab-type wound.

0:17:310:17:32

Again, I believe the wound was over three inches, was it?

0:17:320:17:35

Just over three inches, yes.

0:17:350:17:37

OK, so again that's approximately three inches,

0:17:370:17:39

-so a quick stabbing motion with that.

-Yes.

-That's a possibility.

0:17:390:17:42

-Right.

-But back in the '50s, this was easily obtained

0:17:420:17:44

-and wasn't illegal back then.

-Right.

0:17:440:17:46

In the absence of a murder weapon,

0:17:470:17:49

the police actually bought a knife and began to treat it as an exhibit,

0:17:490:17:54

even introducing it in court.

0:17:540:17:56

A knife similar to this was in fact bought by one of the officers

0:17:560:18:00

in the case, on the basis that it matched a description given

0:18:000:18:04

by one of the witnesses.

0:18:040:18:06

This is a typical period blade that could be easily purchased

0:18:060:18:09

in any of the shops, you know, that would sell these sort of things.

0:18:090:18:13

The folding one has a very sharp point and it's over three inches.

0:18:130:18:16

What this officer, DC Drury, did was to buy a knife like that,

0:18:160:18:20

even though no murder weapon had been found,

0:18:200:18:24

and it certainly featured in evidence and was shown to witnesses

0:18:240:18:28

at various times.

0:18:280:18:30

So that's a matter we're going to have to look in to.

0:18:300:18:33

It's worth remembering that officer's name - Kenneth Drury.

0:18:350:18:38

Back then, he was just a detective constable,

0:18:380:18:42

helpfully filling a gap in the evidence.

0:18:420:18:44

But he was to become one of the most notorious policemen

0:18:460:18:49

in the history of Scotland Yard.

0:18:490:18:51

Sharon and Anne have come to Lambeth Archives

0:18:550:18:57

to try and find out a bit more about Michael's case.

0:18:570:19:00

Michael grew up in Clapham, the youngest of three children.

0:19:030:19:06

He had served in the Merchant Navy and the RAF.

0:19:060:19:10

He had a record of minor offences, but nothing violent.

0:19:100:19:14

She said, " 'There were about six boys, they held him by the arms,

0:19:160:19:21

" 'I thought that they were helping him.

0:19:210:19:23

" 'The boys ran off and Beckley staggered to the wall

0:19:230:19:25

" 'and was left to die.'

0:19:250:19:27

"The prosecution allege also that he wounded two other youths

0:19:270:19:32

"with the same knife.

0:19:320:19:33

"Davies said he had to get rid of the knife.

0:19:330:19:37

"He said there was no claret blood on it."

0:19:370:19:40

-But is that true?

-Mm, yeah.

0:19:400:19:43

The newspapers of the day paint an unflattering picture

0:19:430:19:45

of Sharon's Uncle Mick.

0:19:450:19:48

I mean, deep down, I hope and think he was innocent, but it puts doubts,

0:19:480:19:52

when you read all these things.

0:19:520:19:54

Are they actually telling the truth, are they lying?

0:19:540:19:57

This was from the Daily Mirror, and there's a picture of Michael,

0:19:570:20:01

"The thug who impressed teenage girls

0:20:010:20:04

"with his flash clothes and his big talk."

0:20:040:20:07

-I do remember him sort of talking flashily sometimes.

-Do you?

0:20:070:20:11

Yeah. But not harmfully, just jokingly, but...

0:20:110:20:14

There's photographs of Michael Davies,

0:20:140:20:18

"Alleged to be the youth who stabbed Beckley to death."

0:20:180:20:21

It's him, but it doesn't look like him.

0:20:210:20:23

I mean, even I would know that was him, yeah.

0:20:230:20:27

"Michael Davies, whose highest ambition

0:20:270:20:31

"is to be leader of the teenage gangsters,

0:20:310:20:35

"was last night sentenced to death

0:20:350:20:38

"for the murder on Clapham Common."

0:20:380:20:40

I mean, the more I'm hearing about it, if he is innocent,

0:20:400:20:44

-the more I'm feeling really sad for him...

-Yes.

0:20:440:20:47

-Yeah, of course.

-What he went through.

0:20:470:20:49

It's all just repeating itself,

0:20:490:20:51

but what we want is the truth out of that.

0:20:510:20:54

Sasha and Jeremy want to know more about the evidence

0:20:560:20:59

given by the prosecution witnesses.

0:20:590:21:01

Cold-case expert Cheryl Allsop is here to help.

0:21:040:21:07

They start with two key witnesses -

0:21:080:21:11

the women on the top deck of the 137 bus.

0:21:110:21:14

The thing that really struck me about this

0:21:160:21:19

was how very specific they were about one person.

0:21:190:21:22

And how very specific they were that they both had the same description,

0:21:220:21:26

in terms of sallow complexion, thin features, dark hair,

0:21:260:21:30

brightly coloured tie, dark suit.

0:21:300:21:33

Firstly, this was not a fleeting glimpse, was it,

0:21:330:21:37

because they were at the front of the bus, glass window,

0:21:370:21:40

what they were seeing was an uninterrupted view.

0:21:400:21:43

-Yes.

-You're concerned about the similarity of their evidence,

0:21:430:21:47

but wouldn't it be the most natural thing in the world for two people

0:21:470:21:51

together on a bus saying, in effect, did you see that,

0:21:510:21:54

did you see the other, before they came to make their police statements?

0:21:540:21:57

Yes, certainly. I guess what I'm thinking as well is,

0:21:570:22:00

they didn't describe anybody else or see anything else, yet, as you said,

0:22:000:22:03

it was a commotion, a kerfuffle going on.

0:22:030:22:06

It's interesting it's the same detective who took both their statements.

0:22:060:22:09

I'd just be interested to see his notes from this.

0:22:090:22:12

It just makes me question, if you like, the credibility of it all.

0:22:120:22:16

Could they have seen what they are describing, and remembered all this?

0:22:160:22:20

The other distinctive feature of this murder is its gang character,

0:22:210:22:25

and the shifting accounts of Michael Davies' accomplices.

0:22:250:22:28

I think it's really interesting.

0:22:300:22:31

The fact that, first of all, you have the co-accused,

0:22:310:22:34

so five people that were accused with Davies at the time,

0:22:340:22:37

who continually change their statements.

0:22:370:22:40

So, you start off having a description of the fight,

0:22:400:22:42

how they came to be in the area at the time.

0:22:420:22:45

And then, suddenly they start to mention Davies and a knife,

0:22:450:22:48

not seeing the knife, but then suddenly he's talking about a knife,

0:22:480:22:51

he's talking about how to get rid of a knife.

0:22:510:22:53

So you wonder, why would you not mention that immediately

0:22:530:22:56

because that's very significant in something like this.

0:22:560:22:58

So why have they changed their story?

0:22:580:23:00

You're talking about a group of individuals involved

0:23:000:23:03

in a violent attack and someone dying.

0:23:030:23:05

-The incentive for lying is high, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:23:050:23:09

They've all, you know, by their own admission, been involved in a fight,

0:23:090:23:12

so they're already in trouble, if you like.

0:23:120:23:15

So, it wouldn't take a wild leap in the dark for them to think, well,

0:23:150:23:18

"I've been identified in this fight."

0:23:180:23:20

You start to think, well, you can see why they'd want to

0:23:200:23:23

cover their own...back, wouldn't you, really,

0:23:230:23:25

because it could've ended up being them that were accused,

0:23:250:23:28

-so I couldn't say...

-Convicted?

-Convicted.

0:23:280:23:30

Convicted of murder, and hanged.

0:23:300:23:32

And given the death penalty.

0:23:320:23:34

So the incentive for saying, "I didn't have the knife, but he did..."

0:23:340:23:38

..cries out, does it not?

0:23:390:23:41

No, that is a matter that has caused both of us concern,

0:23:410:23:44

we just don't know. It is unsatisfactory.

0:23:440:23:47

All of the points that were made by Cheryl were valid points,

0:23:470:23:51

and they were all points that were made during the course of the trial.

0:23:510:23:54

All of the witnesses that she spoke about,

0:23:540:23:57

and whose witness statements she analysed,

0:23:570:24:00

they were witnesses who were cross-examined forcefully at trial.

0:24:000:24:04

And the jury heard the challenges,

0:24:040:24:06

and must have rejected them in order to find the case proved

0:24:060:24:09

against Michael Davies.

0:24:090:24:11

There are two aspects of the case that concern me most.

0:24:120:24:15

The first is Miss Frayling's evidence,

0:24:150:24:18

and how she came to be so clear

0:24:180:24:21

in her identification of Michael Davies,

0:24:210:24:25

combined with the involvement of DC Drury,

0:24:250:24:28

who took a number of witness statements.

0:24:280:24:31

I want to look much more closely at Drury.

0:24:310:24:34

The other aspect of the case concerns this quagmire

0:24:340:24:38

of information coming from the other boys, men, thugs,

0:24:380:24:44

whatever you like to call them, involved in the attack on the night.

0:24:440:24:48

Their accounts change materially.

0:24:480:24:51

They're arrested for murder, they're questioned for murder,

0:24:510:24:55

they end up pleading guilty to common assault.

0:24:550:24:59

They're given six nine-month sentences,

0:24:590:25:01

Michael Davies is sentenced to hang.

0:25:010:25:04

The whole case is one that gives rise to fundamental concern.

0:25:040:25:09

Upon sentence, Michael's sister, Joyce, Sharon's mum,

0:25:130:25:17

began a campaign to prove his innocence and save his life.

0:25:170:25:21

But it was all done quietly.

0:25:220:25:24

This is the first time that Sharon and Anne have seen these letters...

0:25:240:25:28

..including one sent to the then-Home Secretary.

0:25:290:25:32

This is the letter that Joyce wrote to Sir Maxwell Fife

0:25:330:25:39

on the 10th of November, 1953.

0:25:390:25:42

-"I would like to bring to your notice..."

-Oh, that's right.

0:25:420:25:45

"..certain parts of the evidence, which sincerely hope you will give

0:25:450:25:49

"your fullest consideration.

0:25:490:25:51

"My mother is distraught with grief.

0:25:510:25:54

"Michael, having always been to her a splendid son."

0:25:540:25:57

I can't understand how your mother...

0:26:000:26:03

-I mean, I understand...

-How she, you know, had this all on her mind,

0:26:040:26:08

and didn't tell anybody about it.

0:26:080:26:10

I can understand not telling just friends or acquaintances,

0:26:100:26:13

but sort of close family, I think that's

0:26:130:26:16

a bit strange, not to have shared any of that at all.

0:26:160:26:20

After Michael Davies' appeal was turned down,

0:26:220:26:25

he wrote to his brother, David, from the condemned cell.

0:26:250:26:29

"Dear Dave, just a few lines to let you know

0:26:290:26:32

"I'm still keeping well and fit.

0:26:320:26:34

"As you know by now, my appeal has been dismissed.

0:26:340:26:38

"I was very shocked at the outcome.

0:26:380:26:41

"I really expected to get the same as the rest of the boys got,

0:26:410:26:44

"because I'm not guilty of this terrible charge they have brought against me.

0:26:440:26:48

"This whole affair has been a great strain on Mum,

0:26:480:26:52

"and I don't think that I will ever be able to make amends

0:26:520:26:55

"for all the worry and heartache I have caused her."

0:26:550:26:59

Still facing the rope, Michael wrote to the Home Secretary.

0:26:590:27:03

"I, Michael John Davies, take leave to petition for a reprieve

0:27:050:27:10

"on the following grounds,

0:27:100:27:12

"that I am not guilty of the offence I am charged with.

0:27:120:27:15

"That at no time did I come into physical contact with the dead boy.

0:27:150:27:20

"I have never owned a knife of any sort,

0:27:200:27:23

"and most certainly never used one to attack anybody with.

0:27:230:27:27

"My home life is of a normal, average family,

0:27:270:27:30

"with a perfectly happy environment.

0:27:300:27:33

"I am a keen swimmer, follow professional boxing regularly,

0:27:330:27:38

"also football.

0:27:380:27:40

"I have very good references from my places of employment,

0:27:400:27:43

"including the Merchant Navy.

0:27:430:27:45

"Sir, I remain your obedient servant."

0:27:450:27:48

-I'm thinking...

-Again, he sounds desperate.

0:27:500:27:52

Oh, of course, absolutely desperate.

0:27:520:27:54

The Home Secretary did commute Michael Davies' death sentence

0:27:570:28:00

to one of life imprisonment.

0:28:000:28:02

But the impression of something strange at the heart of the case lingered.

0:28:040:28:08

The fight went on.

0:28:080:28:10

The noted campaigner, Lord Longford, had become involved,

0:28:110:28:15

and in 1958, he and Joyce submitted a pile of new evidence

0:28:150:28:19

in the hope of overturning the guilty verdict.

0:28:190:28:22

Cold-case expert Cheryl Allsop has examined the paperwork

0:28:240:28:27

thrown up by the case.

0:28:270:28:30

I've got a few statements that the people originally involved in the

0:28:300:28:33

fight have made. A couple of ones I want to draw your attention to.

0:28:330:28:36

So, Coleman who, in the first investigation,

0:28:360:28:39

gave two or three statements about Davies having a knife.

0:28:390:28:41

He gives another statement to the police in 1956,

0:28:410:28:45

where he says Davies had the knife.

0:28:450:28:47

-This is three years after the conviction?

-Yes.

0:28:470:28:50

Then in 1958, he speaks to Lord Longford, and in that he says,

0:28:500:28:55

"I am convinced Davies is innocent."

0:28:550:28:58

He's saying what Lord Longford wants to hear, isn't he?

0:28:580:29:01

Potentially, yeah. Potentially, could be.

0:29:010:29:04

And then we come to further statements to the police by Wood.

0:29:040:29:09

So, you recall, Wood was one of the people involved originally.

0:29:090:29:12

And he is really quite explicit about, you know,

0:29:120:29:16

the way he was questioned by the police.

0:29:160:29:18

So he says, when he was first questioned,

0:29:180:29:21

"One of you is going to hang for this."

0:29:210:29:23

"We know one of you had a knife."

0:29:230:29:25

Can I just ask you, did he name the officer who made those threats?

0:29:250:29:28

He hasn't said. He hasn't said.

0:29:280:29:30

He just said, when he was interviewed.

0:29:300:29:32

And he makes it clear, he said,

0:29:320:29:35

"I did not see Davies with a knife in his hand

0:29:350:29:37

"during the fight or after the fight."

0:29:370:29:40

What he clearly does in this statement, by mentioning

0:29:400:29:44

that the police said to him pretty early on,

0:29:440:29:47

one of you can hang for this...

0:29:470:29:49

-Yes.

-..is he's reinforcing the suggestion

0:29:490:29:52

that the pressure was being put on these guys

0:29:520:29:55

to pin the murder on one of them,

0:29:550:29:58

and the obvious candidate was Michael Davies,

0:29:580:30:00

because he was the only one that had admitted being present.

0:30:000:30:03

Don't you think that's a realistic scenario?

0:30:030:30:05

I have to say,

0:30:050:30:07

I'm concerned about the picture that was being generated publicly.

0:30:070:30:12

Lord Longford, a very powerful, influential figure.

0:30:120:30:16

A lot of publicity generated.

0:30:160:30:18

People are coming forward to change their story for Lord Longford.

0:30:180:30:21

-Again...

-It is a classic situation of people wanting to be important,

0:30:210:30:25

wanting to be in the public eye,

0:30:250:30:27

-and one can't take that out of the equation.

-Yes.

0:30:270:30:30

In June 1958, Michael Davies was told

0:30:300:30:32

that although there was no grounds for overturning his guilty verdict,

0:30:320:30:37

he was to be released once he had completed seven years of his sentence.

0:30:370:30:42

Michael Davies left Wandsworth Prison in October 1960.

0:30:440:30:48

If Michael Davies was guilty of murder,

0:30:500:30:52

which in the eyes of the law he still was, what possible reason

0:30:520:30:57

could there be for releasing him after such a short time?

0:30:570:31:00

It didn't smell right.

0:31:000:31:03

And the smell has not improved since then.

0:31:030:31:05

The source of it is a detective

0:31:070:31:09

who was central to the case from day one.

0:31:090:31:12

Detective Constable Kenneth Drury went on to become

0:31:150:31:21

superintendent in the murder squad,

0:31:210:31:22

and then commander of the Flying Squad.

0:31:220:31:25

Now, Drury took a number of important statements

0:31:250:31:30

affecting Michael Davies' case.

0:31:300:31:32

In particular, the witness statement of Miss Frayling,

0:31:320:31:37

the key identification witness.

0:31:370:31:40

He also took statements from other members of Michael Davies' group,

0:31:400:31:44

gang, whatever you like to call them.

0:31:440:31:47

As you know, on the 7th of July, 1977,

0:31:470:31:51

Drury was convicted of five counts of corruption

0:31:510:31:56

and imprisoned for eight years.

0:31:560:31:58

And crucially, what emerged was a statement from one officer

0:31:580:32:02

who worked with Drury as a, quote, "close friend and colleague",

0:32:020:32:07

and said that Drury often received payoffs from criminals,

0:32:070:32:11

and also that he was, quote, "a past master of the arts,

0:32:110:32:15

"falsifying or manipulating alibi statements,

0:32:150:32:19

"and the manipulation of identification procedures,

0:32:190:32:23

"as well as the repeated harassment of witnesses

0:32:230:32:27

"until he got what he wanted from them".

0:32:270:32:30

Sasha, it's my view that

0:32:300:32:32

what we have uncovered in relation to Drury,

0:32:320:32:37

it founds the basis for an argument that Michael Davies'

0:32:370:32:42

conviction should be looked at again.

0:32:420:32:47

Well, Jeremy, I agree, this is absolutely explosive,

0:32:470:32:52

because although he wasn't the senior investigating officer

0:32:520:32:55

in the Davies case, he clearly had a close involvement

0:32:550:32:59

with several pivotal witnesses.

0:32:590:33:02

The issue is, we are talking about an officer

0:33:020:33:05

who was convicted in 1977

0:33:050:33:09

of deeply, deeply unattractive misconduct.

0:33:090:33:14

Now, whether he was up to his tricks in this case, we simply don't know.

0:33:140:33:19

I am seriously troubled by this,

0:33:190:33:22

and this puts a different complexion on the case.

0:33:220:33:26

What Sasha and I have uncovered is the involvement,

0:33:280:33:33

if not the central involvement, of a truly corrupt police officer.

0:33:330:33:37

And there are indications that the very types of evidence that

0:33:380:33:42

Michael Davies was convicted on, identification evidence,

0:33:420:33:46

accomplice-type evidence, is exactly the kind of testimony

0:33:460:33:51

Drury got himself busy with, and will certainly form the platform

0:33:510:33:55

for my arguments that Michael Davies could well and truly have been

0:33:550:33:59

a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

0:33:590:34:01

There is nothing more damaging to the integrity

0:34:030:34:06

of the criminal justice system than a corrupt police officer.

0:34:060:34:10

And as far as I am concerned, this is a potential game changer.

0:34:100:34:15

Sasha and Jeremy prepare to meet Judge David Radford

0:34:160:34:20

with their new evidence.

0:34:200:34:22

It's not a straightforward case,

0:34:230:34:25

and I really don't know how the judge is going to see the situation,

0:34:250:34:28

but I genuinely feel that there are significant representations to make

0:34:280:34:32

that this was a miscarriage of justice.

0:34:320:34:35

The barristers are joined by Anne and Sharon.

0:34:360:34:39

I just want to get my uncle's name proved that he didn't do what he was

0:34:400:34:44

supposed to have done, that he'll be innocent.

0:34:440:34:46

So, I'm convinced it's going to go that way.

0:34:460:34:49

-Hello, Sharon. Hello, Anne.

-Hi, there.

-Hi.

-How are you?

0:34:500:34:53

-I'm fine.

-How are you feeling, Sharon?

-Confident.

0:34:530:34:56

-Yes. Very, hopefully. Yes.

-Yep.

0:34:580:35:01

It was very confusing before, but after witnessing everything,

0:35:010:35:04

I'm confident that you've both been able to find something...

0:35:040:35:07

Yeah, something new is what we need to convince the judge that the case

0:35:070:35:10

should be looked at again.

0:35:100:35:12

But it is his decision in the end, obviously.

0:35:120:35:15

Anne and Sharon know that Judge David Radford

0:35:150:35:18

will treat the new evidence just as he would a submission in court.

0:35:180:35:22

Miss Wass and Mr Dean,

0:35:260:35:29

as you know, I'm here this afternoon to consider, with your assistance,

0:35:290:35:34

the case of Michael John Davies.

0:35:340:35:37

So, Mr Dein, can I turn to you first?

0:35:370:35:39

As your honour knows, Michael Davies was convicted of the murder

0:35:390:35:44

of John Beckley on the 22nd of October 1953.

0:35:440:35:49

In the course of this enquiry,

0:35:490:35:51

I believe that important new evidence has emerged

0:35:510:35:57

which casts doubt upon Mr Davies' conviction.

0:35:570:36:02

Now, the new material, it concerns the involvement,

0:36:020:36:07

history and character of one of the investigating officers,

0:36:070:36:12

DC Kenneth Drury.

0:36:120:36:14

He has now been shown to have been a thoroughly and almost unbelievably

0:36:140:36:19

corrupt police officer,

0:36:190:36:22

whose outrageous misconduct casts a shadow over the whole

0:36:220:36:27

of the investigation against Michael Davies.

0:36:270:36:30

And it's my submission that there is a clear inference

0:36:300:36:34

that the police investigation was tainted as a result.

0:36:340:36:37

No-one can therefore say with confidence that the investigation

0:36:370:36:42

into Michael Davies' case was not corrupted by Drury,

0:36:420:36:47

and that Your Honour should conclude that there could well have been

0:36:470:36:51

a miscarriage of justice.

0:36:510:36:53

Yes, thank you, Mr Dein, and Miss Wass.

0:36:530:36:56

Jeremy has made his case,

0:36:560:36:58

but will Sasha side with him?

0:36:580:37:00

Now, the prosecution relied very heavily on the eyewitness evidence

0:37:020:37:07

of the two women at the top of the 137 bus.

0:37:070:37:11

Both said they saw a man with a knife...

0:37:110:37:15

..and one of them identified Michael Davies as the man with the knife.

0:37:160:37:22

As Mr Dein has said, it is now clear

0:37:230:37:27

that the officer who had initial and direct contact

0:37:270:37:32

with those two critical independent witnesses

0:37:320:37:37

was Detective Constable Kenneth Drury, as he then was.

0:37:370:37:42

What is known now about Kenneth Drury's conduct and his means

0:37:430:37:50

of operating corruptly, undermine any confidence

0:37:500:37:54

that the prosecution can have in the safety of this conviction.

0:37:540:38:00

Well, I shall consider and reflect upon your submissions

0:38:000:38:05

and in due course let you know what my conclusion is.

0:38:050:38:08

Thank you very much.

0:38:080:38:10

After you.

0:38:110:38:13

Right, well, did you manage to follow all of that?

0:38:190:38:23

-Yes.

-Yes, absolutely.

-What's your reaction to learning...?

0:38:230:38:25

-Shocked.

-Very. Yes.

0:38:250:38:28

-Dreadful.

-It is dreadful. It is dreadful.

-Yes, absolutely.

0:38:280:38:31

I think what the judge may be concerned about,

0:38:310:38:34

and we don't know what he was thinking, is that we now know,

0:38:340:38:38

because of what happened in the 1970s, how corrupt this officer was,

0:38:380:38:42

but whether he is able to say that that would necessarily have affected

0:38:420:38:48

the events of 1953, that's really the problem.

0:38:480:38:52

Kenneth Drury's criminality is beyond doubt,

0:38:520:38:56

but does it have any bearing on Michael Davies' conviction?

0:38:560:38:59

The judge is ready to give his opinion.

0:39:000:39:03

The sole basis upon which I'm invited to conclude

0:39:070:39:11

that Mr Davies' conviction is unsafe

0:39:110:39:13

is because one of the lower-ranked detectives who worked on the investigation,

0:39:130:39:19

the then Detective Constable Kenneth Drury,

0:39:190:39:22

was later convicted in 1977 of corruption,

0:39:220:39:27

when a detective superintendent.

0:39:270:39:30

Whilst I can understand the concerns

0:39:300:39:33

that these revelations have occasioned,

0:39:330:39:37

it is right to note that nothing has been uncovered as a consequence

0:39:370:39:43

that reveals any actual evidence of corruption or misconduct.

0:39:430:39:48

True it is that Detective Constable Drury took down some,

0:39:480:39:53

but by no means all, of the witness statements.

0:39:530:39:56

Those witnesses went on to make sworn statements

0:39:560:40:01

before the magistrates, and then gave detailed evidence on oath

0:40:010:40:05

in the original trial and then again in the retrial.

0:40:050:40:09

The convicting jury were aware of those facts,

0:40:090:40:13

and were therefore well placed to judge the reliability

0:40:130:40:17

of the evidence those witnesses gave.

0:40:170:40:20

Merely because Mr Drury behaved corruptly and mendaciously

0:40:210:40:26

many years later in relation to wholly unrelated cases

0:40:260:40:31

cannot without more, in my view, sensibly lead

0:40:310:40:35

to a conclusion that he was the cause of untrue evidence.

0:40:350:40:38

The conclusion I have reached is there is no fresh basis

0:40:380:40:43

which enables me to conclude

0:40:430:40:46

that there was an unsafe verdict in this case.

0:40:460:40:50

I shall rise.

0:40:500:40:52

-Are you very disappointed?

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:41:010:41:04

One of the difficulties was trying to prove events backwards.

0:41:040:41:08

-Yes.

-What the judge has effectively said is, we don't have proof

0:41:080:41:12

that he was corrupt.

0:41:120:41:14

Well, there wasn't the sort of documentation in cases in those days

0:41:140:41:19

of dealings that police officers had with witnesses

0:41:190:41:23

-that we have nowadays.

-Yes.

0:41:230:41:25

So, although one can imagine what might have happened,

0:41:250:41:29

and we've used our common sense and experience to imagine

0:41:290:41:33

-what we think is a likely scenario, we can't prove it.

-No.

0:41:330:41:38

And that is very, very disappointing.

0:41:380:41:43

-I can fully understand the judge's approach...

-Yes, I can understand.

0:41:430:41:47

..but I don't share his view.

0:41:470:41:49

Thank you both for your understanding and your patience.

0:41:490:41:51

Well, we know you've done your best, that's all we could have asked for.

0:41:510:41:54

-Lovely to have met you both.

-And you.

-Thank you.

0:41:540:41:57

Well, I know the judge obviously came to the decision,

0:42:030:42:05

and I understand how,

0:42:050:42:07

but at the same time, it is bitterly disappointing.

0:42:070:42:11

I was obviously hoping for better news.

0:42:110:42:14

It's so large an area. No wonder there were so many people here.

0:42:150:42:19

It makes you feel you're part of it again.

0:42:190:42:22

Sort of expecting him to turn up.

0:42:220:42:25

Extremely disappointed but perhaps, you know,

0:42:250:42:28

if there hadn't been this gap of so many years,

0:42:280:42:31

it might have been totally different.

0:42:310:42:34

I mean, when you think about it, this is the last place

0:42:340:42:38

where he can remember when he had a really good time.

0:42:380:42:41

-Yes, that's right.

-Having fun.

0:42:410:42:43

And then his life changed completely.

0:42:430:42:46

I just think if the evidence had been against him,

0:42:470:42:50

he would have got the death sentence.

0:42:500:42:52

There would have been no question of life or seven years.

0:42:520:42:56

So, with that in my mind, I haven't changed my view.

0:42:560:42:59

I still insist to me that he was innocent.

0:42:590:43:02

It just puts a different light on, I don't know, on lots of things,

0:43:040:43:08

-doesn't it?

-Yes. We've done what we thought was the best thing.

-Exactly.

0:43:080:43:11

Barristers Sasha Wass and Jeremy Dein investigate a gang-related murder in Clapham Common in 1953 that left one teenager dead and another man sentenced to hang. What appears to be a fistfight masks a more violent clash - someone has a knife. Three men are stabbed, and 17-year-old John Beckley later dies from his injuries. A bust-up over an insult has ended in murder.

Several young men were initially arrested and charged, but only one - Michael Davies - was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. However, Michael was never executed - his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. Now, more than six decades later, Michael's niece, Sharon, and family friend Ann are looking for closure. Michael protested his innocence on his release from prison, but he was never exonerated - can his relative finally clear his name?

Sasha and Jeremy investigate possible murder weapons and re-examine key evidence given by eyewitnesses. Can they uncover enough new evidence to bring this case before a Crown Court judge and convince him that the original conviction was unsafe?