The jury at the trial found Bentley guilty based on the prosecution's interpretation of the ambiguous phrase "Let him have it" (Bentley's alleged exhortation to Craig) after the judge, Lord Chief Justice Goddard, had described Bentley as "mentally aiding the murder of Sidney Miles". Goddard sentenced Bentley to be hanged, despite a recommendation for mercy by the jury: Under the Judgment of Death Act 1823, no other sentence was possible (subsequently the Homicide Act 1957, which introduced stronger "diminished responsibility" safeguards, was all but certainly influenced by the Bentley trial).
The Bentley case became a cause célèbre, and led to a 45-year-long campaign to win Derek Bentley a posthumous pardon, which was granted in 1993, and then a further campaign for the quashing of his murder conviction, which occurred in 1998. His case is thus considered a case of miscarriage of justice alongside that of Timothy Evans, and pivotal in the successful campaign to abolish capital punishment in the United Kingdom.
Both Craig and Bentley were charged with the murder of PC Miles on the following day, 3 November 1952. They were tried by jury before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, at the Old Bailey in London between 9 December and 11 December 1952. Christmas Humphreys, Senior Treasury Counsel, led for the prosecution.
At the time of the burglary attempt and Miles's death, murder was a capital offence in England and Wales. Minors under 18 were not sentenced to death: consequently, of the two defendants, despite Craig having fired the fatal shot, only Bentley faced the death penalty if convicted. The doctrine of felony murder or "constructive malice" meant that a charge of manslaughter was not an option, as the "malicious intent" of the armed robbery was transferred to the shooting. Bentley's best defence was that he was effectively under arrest when Miles was killed. There were three principal points of contention at trial:
The jury took 75 minutes to decide that both Craig and Bentley were guilty of Miles's murder, with a plea for mercy for Bentley. Bentley was sentenced to death whilst Craig was ordered to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure. He was eventually released in May 1963 after serving 10 years' imprisonment, married two years later and subsequently became a plumber.
Contrary to Yallop's claims, none of the police officers present was armed at the moment when PC Miles was shot. Det Con (later Det Sgt) Fairfax, after Miles was shot and after taking Bentley to street level and putting him into a police car, returned to the roof armed with a Webley & Scott .32 and fired two shots at Craig, both of which missed. Since a .32 round could not be loaded into Craig's revolver and Craig was the only armed person in the vicinity at the time of the murder, the spent .32 round could only be one of Fairfax's, fired some time subsequently. As the Court of Appeal found, 'Once the appellant [Bentley] had been taken down, D.C. Fairfax returned with a firearm, with which he had been issued, and went back up to the roof. He fired twice at Craig but missed, Craig having fired at him. Craig's revolver was by now empty and he jumped or dived off the roof, suffering a fractured spine, breast bone and left forearm. Notwithstanding this, he was able to tell the first police officer who reached him that he wished he had "killed the fucking lot". He later made a number of statements to police officers sitting with him in hospital, displaying a hatred of the police and a total lack of remorse at what he had done.'
Eventually, on 30 July 1998, the Court of Appeal quashed Bentley's conviction for murder. However, Bentley's sister Iris had died of cancer the year before. Her daughter, Maria Bentley-Dingwall, who was born 10 years after Derek Bentley's execution, continued the campaign after her mother's death.
Though Bentley had never been accused of attacking any of the police officers, who were shot at by Craig, for him to be convicted of murder as an accessory in a joint enterprise it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that he knew that Craig had a deadly weapon when they began the break-in. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, ruled that Lord Goddard had not made it clear to the jury that the prosecution was required to have proved Bentley had known that Craig was armed. He further ruled that Lord Goddard had failed to raise the question of Bentley's withdrawal from their joint enterprise. This would require the prosecution to prove the absence of any attempt by Bentley to signal to Craig that he wanted Craig to surrender his weapons to the police. Lord Bingham ruled that Bentley's trial had been unfair because the judge had misdirected the jury and, in his summing-up, had put unfair pressure on the jury to convict. It is possible that Lord Goddard may have been under pressure while summing up since much of the evidence was not directly relevant to Bentley's defence. Lord Bingham did not rule that Bentley was innocent, merely that there had been fundamental defects in the trial process.
In a case with similarities to the Bentley case, a House of Lords judgment of 17 July 1997 cleared Philip English of murdering Sergeant Bill Forth in March 1993, the reasons being given by Lord Hutton. English had been handcuffed before his companion Paul Weddle killed Sgt Forth with a concealed knife. The existing joint enterprise law allowed the conviction of English for murder because they had both been attacking Sgt Forth with wooden staves, making English an accessory to any murder committed by Weddle as part of that assault. Lord Hutton made the 'fine distinction' that a concealed knife was a far more deadly weapon than a wooden stave, so that proof of English's knowledge of it was necessary for conviction. The appeal may have influenced the allowing of a posthumous referral of the Bentley case.
Lynd went outside, sat on the front porch, and smoked a cigarette. (T. 1532). The victim eventually regained consciousness and staggered outside toward Lynd. Id. Lynd turned and shot the victim a second time and the victim collapsed onto the porch. (T. 1530-1533). Lynd put the victim into the trunk of her blue Spectrum automobile and drove away from the house. (T. 1533).
When driving through Ohio, Lynd attacked and murdered another woman, Leslie Joan Sharkey. (T. 1549). Lynd was able to convince Ms. Sharkey that her car was damaged when he flashed his headlights at her. (Vol. IX). When Ms. Sharkey pulled her car over to the side of the road, Lynd attacked her and shot her three times with the .32 caliber pistol. Id. Ms. Sharkey was able to drive away and get medical attention. Id. While she was being treated in the emergency room, she gave a full account of the incident to Ohio police officers. Id. However, Ms. Sharkey died a few days after she was shot. (T. 1539-1551, 1752, 1762).
While in Ohio, Lynd sold the murder weapon, a .32 caliber Davis Industries derringer, to Mr. Billy George Blevins for twenty dollars. (T. 1790, 1807). Blevins testified that he bought the gun from Lynd on December 26, 1991, when Lynd came into his bar to have a drink. (T. 1784-1790, 1807). Georgia Bureau of Investigation firearms expert Kelly Fite was able to determine that the bullets fired into the victim matched those test fired from the derringer. (T. 1639-1640).
Lynd was indicted by the Grand Jury of Berrien County, Georgia on February 7, 1989, on one count of malice murder and one count of kidnapping. On February 27, 1990, following a jury trial, Lynd was convicted as charged in the indictment. The jury then returned a sentence of death against Lynd.
The case was stagnant until the 1980s when Tony Bamonte, Pend Oreille County sheriff, became interested in the case. When he approached the Police Department, they told him they did not have "employment records for any of the people and officers" and that most of them were dead now anyways. Dan Mangan stepped forward though, now 86 years old. He confirmed the suspicion that Ralstin was involved in a lot of illegal activity, including the creamery burglaries. Mangan even told Bamonte about the Post Street Bridge, where he had disposed of Ralstin's murder weapon in 1935. Bamonte found the weapon in 1989 and it was the same caliber as the murder weapon, a .32 revolver and its condition was consistent with being in the water for 50 years. You can see the rusty murder weapon today in a display case outside the Joel E. Ferris Research Room at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.
Three days later, on December 17, 1984 Robert Grady Johnson and Jay Wesley Neill are arrested in their hotel room in San Francisco. They are returned to the District Court of Comanche County, Oklahoma and charged with four counts of first degree murder, three counts of shooting with intent to kill and one count of attempted shooting with intent to kill. The Federal bank robbery charges are waived, so the state could prosecute the murder charges. They are tried and convicted together in May, 1985.
Neill, considered the only one actually at the bank that day and the sole person who committed the robbery and murder, receives the death penalty, again. On December 12, 2002 at 6:15pm Jay Wesley Neill is executed by lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAllister, Oklahoma. 2b1af7f3a8