Bricklayers Arms rail workers' convictions quashed, 47 years on

The convictions of two men who worked at the Bricklayers Arms railway goods depot have been quashed posthumously after an investigation Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Bricklayers Arms rail workers' convictions quashed, 47 years on
Photo by Mahosadha Ong / Unsplash

British Rail workers Basil Peterkin and Saliah Mehmet were convicted in 1977 after losses were incurred at the Bricklayers Arms goods depot where they worked.

The goods depot occupied the site where Mandela Way can now be found.

They were accused of stealing by re-labelling parcels to direct them to alternative addresses, and then selling the goods that were inside.

Mr Mehmet was convicted of conspiracy to steal, handing stolen goods, and two counts of theft, and Mr Peterkin was convicted of conspiracy to steal.

In total eight people on trial were found guilty and four were found not guilty. Both men were sentenced to nine months in prison.

The case against Mr Peterkin and Mr Mehmet was led by British Transport Police Officer DS Derek Ridgewell. Ridgewell and his colleagues DC Douglas Ellis and DC Alan Keeling later pleaded guilty to stealing from the same depot.

The cases of Mr Mehmet and Mr Peterkin were sent back to the courts by the CCRC last year after a case review manager tracked down members of their families.

The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions on Thursday this week

The court heard that Ridgewell was “dishonest, corrupt, and racist.”

Lord Justice Holroyde, Vice President of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division said: “These cases have been referred by the CCRC. The CCRC has carried out a most thorough investigation for which we are grateful.

“We express our regret, that so many years have passed. We cannot turn back the clock, but we can quash these convictions.”

Both Mr Mehmet and Mr Peterkin protested their innocence for the rest of their lives until their deaths, Mr Peterkin in August 1991 and Mr Mehhmet in August 2021.

The Court of Appeal has now quashed the convictions of 11 people on the basis of the conviction of DS Ridgewell as new evidence.

The CCRC has carried out a range of investigations into the historical racist and corrupt practices of DS Ridgewell, who fabricated evidence that led to convictions that lasted long after his death in 1982. 

Helen Pitcher OBE, chair of CCRC said: “This case is another example of the thorough work the CCRC does to investigate potential miscarriages of justice.

“I urge anyone else who believes that they or a loved one, friend or acquaintance was a victim of a miscarriage of justice to contact the CCRC – particularly if DS Derek Ridgewell was involved.”

Tags: Police & crime, Law, Bermondsey, Southwark

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