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Victims of corrupt cop cleared of bag thefts 47 years on

AN INNOCENT man convicted on the evidence of a corrupt police officer has called on other victims of the disgraced detective to ‘never give up’ fighting for justice.

Winston Trew, now 69, was finally cleared 47 years on after being jailed for attempted theft and assaulting police in 1972. He had always maintained his innocence and said he was ‘fitted up’ by a British Transport Police officer.

Mr Trew (pictured above) and three others — Sterling Christie, George Griffiths and Constantine Boucher — were arrested at London’s Oval Underground station in 1972 by a unit nicknamed ‘The Mugging Squad’, who accused them of stealing handbags.

The team was run by Det Sgt Derek Ridgewell, who was involved in a number of high-profile and controversial cases in the 1970s. His career ended in disgrace when he was jailed over the theft of a mailbag and he died aged 37 from a heart attack in prison in 1982.

Campaign: ‘Oval Four’ poster PICTURE: PA

The ‘Oval Four’, as they were known, were found guilty following a trial at the Old Bailey. All were jailed for two years, later reduced to eight months on appeal.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions of Mr Trew, Mr Christie, 69, and Mr Griffiths, 67, after a referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). Mr Boucher’s conviction was not referred, as the CCRC has been unable to trace him.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Mrs Justice McGowan and Sir Roderick Evans, ruled it was ‘clear that these convictions are unsafe’.

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Trew urged anyone else to challenge their convictions if they believe they might have been wrongfully convicted as a result of Ridgewell’s actions.

He said: ‘They should come forward and contact the CCRC. If you are innocent, don’t give up.’

Mr Christie added in a statement: ‘I wish to thank everyone who supported us over the years — those who attended meetings, raised funds and distributed leaflets.’