Convictions of Innocent British Rail Workers Cleared Decades Later, Exposing Corruption of Racist Detective

Convictions of Innocent British Rail Workers Cleared Decades Later, Exposing Corruption of Racist Detective

Justice Prevails Posthumously for Wrongly Convicted British Rail Workers

In a historic turn of events, the Court of Appeal has posthumously cleared the convictions of Basil Peterkin and Saliah Mehmet, British Rail workers who were falsely accused of theft by corrupt Detective Sergeant Derek Ridgewell in 1977.

Framed by a Corrupt Detective

Ridgewell, a former South Rhodesian police officer, framed Peterkin and Mehmet for the theft of parcels from the Bricklayers Arms goods depot in south London.

However, Ridgewell later admitted to stealing from the same site.

Victims of Delayed Justice

Both Basil Peterkin, who passed away in 1991, and Saliah Mehmet, who passed away in 2021, were sentenced to nine months in prison.

Their families, Janice Peterkin and Lileith Jones, expressed relief outside the court, stating that justice had finally been served for their fathers.

Ridgewell’s Troubled Legacy

Ridgewell, known for his involvement in controversial cases, served in the British Transport Police and died in prison in 1982.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) had referred 11 cases relying on his evidence.

Traumatic Effects on Families

Mehmet’s children, Regu, Arda, and Onur, revealed the lasting impact of the false conviction, stating that it left their father changed, leading to a loss of trust in the police and causing traumatic effects on their family, including homelessness.

Call for Reform and Investigation

The families called for a reform of the law, urging an independent review of files for wrongful convictions whenever a police officer is imprisoned.

They also highlighted Ridgewell’s racist and corrupt practices, which the CCRC has been investigating.

Systemic Failures and Delays in Investigation

Henry Blaxland KC, representing Peterkin and Mehmet, pointed out systemic failures by the British Transport Police in investigating prosecutions relying on Ridgewell’s evidence.

Delays in addressing the wrongful convictions resulted in lost evidence, denying both men the satisfaction of seeing their names cleared.

Efforts of Another Victim Lead to Action

The CCRC’s involvement in Peterkin and Mehmet’s case was prompted by the research of another victim, Stephen Simmons, whose 1976 conviction was quashed in 2018.

Simmons discovered Ridgewell’s similar offense, leading to the unraveling of the corrupt detective’s legacy.

Regret Expressed by the Judges

Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr. Justice Garnham and Mr. Justice Andrew Baker, expressed regret for the delayed action and the families’ prolonged wait for justice.

The judges acknowledged that the quashing of convictions couldn’t turn back time but provided a measure of vindication for Peterkin and Mehmet.

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