Oval Four: Final conviction quashed in corrupt detective case

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PosterImage source, Winston Trew
Image caption,
The Oval Four were originally jailed for two years but that was reduced on appeal

The final member of a group of four men who were jailed nearly 50 years ago on the evidence of a corrupt police officer has had his conviction quashed.

Constantine "Omar" Boucher was a member of the Oval Four and spent eight months in prison after being accused of stealing handbags in 1972.

The other three had their convictions overturned in December but Mr Boucher could not be traced at the time.

A Court of Appeal hearing was told it was clear his conviction was "unsafe".

Mr Boucher had been arrested at Oval Tube station along with Winston Trew, Sterling Christie and George Griffiths.

The group were all aged between 19 and 23 and belonged to a political organisation representing black people in London.

They were jailed for two years, later reduced to eight months, after being found guilty at the Old Bailey of attempted theft and assaulting police.

The operation was led by Det Sgt Derek Ridgewell, who was the key prosecution witness at the men's trial.

But the officer's career ended in disgrace in 1980 when he was jailed for seven years for plotting to steal goods from the Royal Mail and he died in prison in 1982.

Image caption,
University lecturer Winston Trew had his conviction overturned last year

Three members of the group had their convictions quashed after their cases were referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) last year. Mr Boucher then contacted investigators about his case.

At the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Fulford quashed the 71-year-old's conviction saying it was "fundamentally undermined by the apparent lack of integrity of Det Sgt Ridgewell".

Following the hearing, Mr Boucher's solicitor Jenny Wiltshire said while it was "happy news" her client's conviction had been quashed, "the fact that it has taken nearly so long is very concerning".

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