Surrey 'mailbag thief' jailed in 1976 overturns conviction

Image source, Stephen Simmons
Image caption,
Stephen Simmons spent eight months in a youth detention centre in 1976 for theft

A man who served eight months in a youth jail for stealing mailbags in the 1970s has had his name cleared.

Stephen Simmons from Dorking, Surrey, was found guilty of thefts from Clapham Goods Yard in south London, aged 19.

Now 62, Mr Simmons always protested his innocence, but it was not until an internet search uncovered his arresting officer was found guilty of a similar crime that his case was reconsidered.

The Court of Appeal found he was framed, and overturned his convictions.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett announced: "We would wish only to note our regret that it has taken so long for this injustice to be remedied."

Image source, Stephen Simmons
Image caption,
Mr Simmons searched for the officer on the internet

Asked if he was relieved following the ruling, Mr Simmons replied: "I can't tell you how relieved.

"It has only taken 43 years, but I have got there at last."

Mr Simmons, who runs an audio and phone equipment business in Newdigate, was charged by Det Sgt Derek Ridgewell, of the British Transport Police.

Speaking to BBC Surrey previously he said: "I found out he'd been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for the theft of Royal Mail bags and selling them, and framing people for it."

Mr Simmons then applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), an independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

Det Sgt Ridgewell died in prison in 1982.

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