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Man found guilty of theft more than 40 years ago wins fight to clear his name

UK News | Published:

Businessman Stephen Simmons said he had waited 43 years to prove his innocence.

Businessman is cleared of 43-year-old crime (Nick Ansell/PA)

A man found guilty of stealing mailbags in the 1970s has had his name cleared by leading judges.

Businessman Stephen Simmons, 62, from Dorking, Surrey, was present in court in London on Wednesday when the Court of Appeal overturned his theft 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.”

Stephen Simmons appeal
Stephen Simmons outside the Royal Courts of Justice with his wife Sue (right) and daughter Claire (Jan Colley/PA)

Mr Simmons has always protested his innocence, but his case did not reach court until after he Googled his arresting officer and discovered he was guilty of a similar crime.

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 was sent to Borstal at the age of 20 in 1976 after his convictions in relation to the theft of mail from a train at Clapham Goods Yard in south west London, said that winning his appeal was “one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life”.

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He added after the ruling, which he described as “just amazing” that he could not wait to “stand on the top of the building and tell everybody”.

In 2013 Mr Simmons called a legal phone-in on LBC Radio to ask for advice and was told to try Googling his arresting officer.

When he searched for Detective Sergeant Derek Ridgewell he was shocked to discover the officer had been jailed for a similar offence just two years after his own conviction, and died in prison in 1982.

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