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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 13, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta 1953 British hanging controversy still alive By HAROLD MORRISON LONDON (CP) On Jan. 28, 1953, the noose tightened and snapped the neck of Derek William Bentley as Lhe Irap sprang open on a contro- versy that lives lo this day. Was the hanging of this weak-minded, illiterate youth complicity in the death of a of "the great scandals of British jus- as some critics main- lain, or the reasonable deci- sion of a civilized society? And if it was a miscarriage, who was to blame? (Author David Yallop, in a book and BBC television play, claims it was a deliberate and vindictive "judicial involving two judicial figures now so-called judge" Lord God- dard and Home Secretary Sir David Maxwell Fyfe. Yallop and Bentley's par- ents are pressing for a public inquiry or a posthumous par- don for the 19-year-old youth. RAISED IN COMMONS Questions have been asked in the House of Commons and Home Secretary Reginald Maudling has promised to study the case. But with some public pressure increasing for a return of capital punishment for the killing of unarmed po- licemen, Maudling is unlikely to welcome any sensational reopening of the 1953 hanging case. Details of the events that preceded the Old Bailey crim- inal court trial are debated and challenged but the gen- eral circumstances appear fairly clear. Bentley, untrained and with- out a job, was fond of asso- ciating with youths younger than himself. One night, he and his companion, Christo- pher Craig, 16, set out to break into a warehouse. This attempted b r e a k -1 n came at a time when post-war Britain was deeply concerned over a rise in violence and crime. Goddard, Lord Chief Justice of England, was gain- ing a reputation of toughness, dispatching killers to the gal- lows with such efficiency and speed tliat the "hanging judge" description grew into national fame. CBAJG FIHED Craig and Bentley were dis- covered on that warehouse roof by unarmed Detective Constable Frederick Fairfax who grabbed Bcntloy and then attempted to seize Craig. The impulsive Craig opened fire, hitting Fairfax In the shoul- der. Bentley apparently made no move to escape. He was under arrest. Fairfax found a knuck- leduster on him as well as a Imife. But Bentley did not use these weapons. Bentley was at all times standing close to Fairfax. He claimed he didn't know Craig had a gun or that he would use it though Fairfax and other police officers who Iroquois relics being unearthed OSHAWA, Ont. (CP) Five hundred years ago a large Iro- quois settlement clustered around what now is the in- tersection of Thornton and Ross- land roads here. An archeological expedition this summer has been uncover- ing pieces of pottery and other artcfp.cLs es well as longhouscs indicating the village was unu- sually ig for the time and the middle-Ontario tribal area. Dr. Howard Savage, a re- searcher for the Hoyal Ontario Museum, says the tribe pro- duced "very fine and intricately designed" pottery. It also fash- ioned animal bones into tools and hunting gear. Farmer H. W. MacLeod first turned up evidence of the vil- lage when he was digging up roil for a neighbor's flower bed four years ago. The ROM, the National Mu- seum of Man and the Ontario Archeological Society did some off-and-on digging since but this summer the biggest diggers, mainly to work probing the site exten- sively to learn more about the ancient settlement. WERE SMOKERS "We know the inhabitants grew corn and tobacco, as evi- denced by the charred kernels and numerous pipes that have been says Vic Kon- rad, vice-president of the ar- cheological society. "We also know they ate fish, deer and vvoodchuck and kept dogs, as shown by the bones of these animals at the site." Discovery of one big long- touse was described as a "rare :ind." At the end of a June dig, ts outlines materialized when -opsoil was bulldozed away near .he scene of the original finds. It measured 100 by 30 feet, big for its era, with a smaller one running at right angles to it. They had been constructed of poles covered with tree bark. There was evidence of hearths and fire-pits as well as "mid- dumps. How- ever, the archeologisls have not yet been able to find any trace of the burial ground of the set- tlement, which might reveal more ol the life style of the inhabitants. The scientists will evaluate their finds during the winter and later go on another hunt for the graveyard, which the Indi- ans often located some distance from the village. Treinblay transferred to Kluany WATERTON Larry Trein- blay, chief warden at Waterton Lakes National Park, has been transferred to Kluany National Park in the Yukon. Established lest year, Kluany is one of Canada's newest na- tional parks. Located in the southwestern portion of the Yu- kon, it contains square miles and has some of the most rugged mountain terrain to be found in the Rockies. Headquarters for the park is at Haines Junction. Jack Christensen of Waterton is acting chief warden of Wat- erton Lakes National Park. Tremblay has already taken over his new duties. swiftly gathered at the ware- house maintained that Bentley shouted to Craig "Lot him have it, Chris." At one stage another consta- ble, Sidney Miles, hurst onto the roof and was killed with a single bullet. Even Craig ac- cepted at the trial that he had killed Miles though he claimed it was a ricochet and that he did not aim at the constable. But was Bentley equally to blame, especially when, under British law, a person cannot be charged with committing a crime while he is under ar- rest? Bentley claimed, even as lie went to the gallows, that he never uttered the words "Let him have it, Chris." BOTH CONVICTED Both youths were found guilty by a jury which recom- mended mercy for Bentley. Because he was under-age Craig was sentenced to prison where be spent 10 years. Bentley was sentenced to die. Home Secretary Fyfe had to decide whether Bentley was to be executed or reprieved. He said later in his autobiogra- phy: "After brooding unhappily over the problem for what seemed an interminable pe- riod, I decided that Bentley's case did not warrant the rec- ommendation for mercy. My decision was announced on Monday, the 20th of January, and brought down on my head a storm of vituperation with- out parallel in my career." In 1958, The Spectator mag- azine, recalling the trial, said Lord Goddard heightened the atmosphere of crude emotion- alism by dwelling on Bent- ley's knuckleduster and spike on the side of it. He displayed the weapon and kept asking Bentley questions about it, over and over again, Thus, suggested The Specta- tor, Lord Goddard also dis- played his virtues and weak- nesses. He was sickened by all the wickedness illustrated by men who use such weapons but he showed inability to ap- portion blame for such wickedness rightly. JUDGE SURPRISED Yallop said in his book, To Encourage the Others, (Allen) that he spoke to Goddard be- fore his death and that the Melchers has an for beauty and a reputation for quality Melchers Melchers RHUM Melchers Melchers DistilleriesLimiled, Montreal, Quebec retired chief justice said he was surprised that the then home secretary had not granted mercy to Bentley. Yallop goes further, sug- gesting that in the gunplay on the roof Craig may not have fired the fatal bullet; that it may have come from Iho po- lice gathering on the roof in the dark. Chief Inspector Colin Green- wood of the Yorkshire police training school disputes that point. He claims that though the bullet was never re- covered, It was Craig's re- volver which killed the coasfa- ble and from the angle of shot, Craig was the only one on that roof who could have fired that fatal bullet. But challenging questions remain unresolved. Should Bentley have been hanged when the person found guilty of pressing the trigger still lives and was the hanging an expression of official vindic- as a warning to other would-be criminals, as Yallop believes? Thursday, July 13, 1972 THE IETHBRIDGE KEKALD 25 Glass by glass liquor swallowed OTTAWA (CP) Canadians bought 394.5 million gallons of liquor, wine and beer in the year ended March 31, a 7.1 per- cent increase from the previous year, Statistics Canada reported loday. The volume works out to roughly 20 gallons for every man, woman and child. The value of alcoholic bever- ages sold increased nine per cent, to ?1.80 billion from billion. That's about for each man, woman and child. The total volume Includes 349.7 million gallons of beer, million gallons wine and 25.4 million gallons of liquor. We don't call if our Super Luxury Firenza for nothing. Firenza SL Sport Coupa When you buy GM's economical little Firenza SLyou get: An overhead cam engine that's much bigger than the engines in the three top selling economy imports. Front disc brakes that are power assisted. Your choice of either a 4-speed floor shifter or an optional 3-speed automatic transmission. Richly upholstered bucket seats, Deep-pile carpeting, padded armrests, padded dash and visors. And other luxuries like a cigarette lighter, rear seat ashtrays, full-length paint striping and an inside hood release. You also yet the advantages of dealing with a Pontiac dealer, somebody who knows what dealing is all about. And he knows that the main reason you're buying a small car is because of its economy. So hell offer you a deal to match. AT YOUR PONTIAC DEALER'S ;