‘George Davis is innocent OK’ - High Court hears appeal

A BANK robber who became part of criminal folklore after being jailed for an armed robbery in Essex he insisted he did not commit is set to get the chance to clear his name.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal will review the safety of George Davis's Old Bailey conviction arising out of a robbery at the London Electricity Board (LEB) in Ilford, in April 1974.

He was originally sentenced in 1975 to 20 years for robbery and wounding with intent to resist arrest. That same year the Court of Appeal rejected his application for leave to appeal against conviction, but reduced his sentence to 17 years.

His case attracted widespread attention in the 1970s, with Sham 69 writing a song about him, Roger Daltrey wearing a T-shirt proclaiming his innocence and his name being daubed across railway and road bridges.

Davis's sentence was remitted by Royal Prerogative and he was released from prison in 1976.

But he was arrested again in September 1977 and later pleaded guilty to his involvement in an armed robbery at the Bank of Cyprus in London. He was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, which was reduced to 11 years on appeal.

His conviction for the LEB robbery has been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), an independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice. The judges, sitting in London, will hear the case over two days and will rule on whether or not the conviction remains safe.

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Several complaints about the Metropolitan Police's investigation of the LEB robbery prompted an investigation by Det Ch Supt Moulder, of Hertfordshire Police.

It was the interim reports from Mr Moulder's investigation that led the then-Home Secretary Roy Jenkins to exercise the Royal Prerogative to remit the remainder of Mr Davis' sentence and he was released from prison on May 11 1976, the CCRC has said. The Home Secretary could have, but did not, refer the matter to the Court of Appeal so the safety of the conviction was never considered by the court.

When the CCRC announced last October that the LEB robbery conviction was being referred, it said in a statement: "The reasons for the referral are that the Commission believes that non-disclosure at the time of Mr Davis's original trial of information which may have assisted the defence and/or undermined the prosecution's case at trial, as well as evidence subsequently obtained by the Moulder investigation and, more recently by the CCRC, raise a real possibility that the court may quash the conviction."