On the night of 15-16 December 1988 three masked men conducted a series of violent attacks just off the M25 motor way in Surrey which left one man dead, another wounded , two houses robbed and four cars stolen. The tabloid press dubbed the perpetrators the "M25" Gang and a £25,000 reward was offered for their capture.
1. Why did the victims tell the police and other witnesses, immediately after the
offences took place, that the robbers consisted of two white men and one black man ?
2. What descriptions did the victims give to the people they came into contact with immediately after the offences. A The first victim, Mar Ely told Mr Gentles, the occupant of the house from where Mr Ely raised the alarm that the assailants were two white and one black man. When Ely was asked "What did they look like?", by PC Patching, the first police officer that attended the scene, Mar Ely said "Two white men and a colored man wearing masks".
When giving his first detailed statement to PC at the police station Mar Ely stated, "I can say that one of these men was definitely white skinned because at some stage I noticed that through the ye hole in the ".
The first police officer to take descriptions from the second victims, Mar and Mars Nappier, immediately after the offence was PC Underwood. His notes of what they said were not disclosed to the defence or jury at the trial, in his notebook he attributed each comment to the victim.
Mr Nappier- "The Negro had a gun.... the black youth. My son was stabbed in the struggle by on of the white youths."
Mrs Nappier- "The black youth false had knife. The black youth smelt unclean.
- "The black youth had a blue on."
Mr Nappier- "It was one of the white youths who stabbed my son. The black youth appeared to be the leader."
In his witness statement to DC Gallagher a few hours later, Mr Nappier said "I will now describe the men as I remember them. The first man who came into my bedroom was colored, I would say of African origin. He was wearing a dark blue or black helmet. The eye holes seemed ragged as if they had been cut out. His coloring was light brown. He seemed to have a well filled oval face. The first man I saw with the dagger of knife was white.....sa amen height and build as the colored man. He had fair hair, longish. He was wearing a rust colored . I seem to remember he had blue eyes. The third man was white I believe.
Despite Mrs Rapiers detailed descriptions of the robbers in PC Underwoods notebook, in her statement to DC Gallagher she made no mention of the of hate robbers skin.
Miss Spicer, the victim of the third offence said in her statement to DC Lane, "I could not tell if they were black or white but I came to the conclusion that they were white or at least the one who did most of the talking was a white man."
Mr Almond, also a victim of the third offence stated in his statement to DC Thompson, "I can't say I remember any detail at all of his eyes, nose or mouth. I can't even say what color he was. The light in the room was not very good especially as the curtains were drawn closed."
3. Did the police accept the victims descriptions ? A Yes. The police believed the victims descriptions of the robbers and issued appeals for information through national TV and national newspapers.
Not only did the police accept the victims descriptions, they thoroughly briefed journalists:-
THE SUN: 17/12/88
"Police Said last night the gangs stocky built gunman was black and in his 20's..... the knifeman was white, aged about 25 with long fair hair".
THE TIMES: 17/12/88
"According to Scotland Yard the suspects are all in their 20's and about medium build. Two are white and one black."
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: 17/12/88
"The men, two of them white and one black and all in their 20's"
"The gang......two whites and one black all in their 20's"
THE MAIL ON SUNDAY: 17/12/88
"Police said the gang were two white men and a black man, whose photo fit they issued yesterday"
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH :19/12/88
"Detective Chief Supt. Vincent McFadden, head of Surrey CID who is heading the hunt, said he received "high quality" information ...he was confident the information from the public meant the net was closing around the two white men and on black man, all though to be in their 20's"
The extent of the media interest in the case clearly illustrates the pressure the police were under to arrest and charge "somebody".
4. Do the convicted men fit the victims descriptions ? A. No. Raphael Rowe has light brown skin, brown eyes and shoulder length dark brown dreadlocks. Michael Davis has dark brown skin, brown eyes and shoulder length black dreadlocks. Randolph Johnson has dark brown skin, brown eyes and short black hair.
5. Why did the police charge three black men with the offences ? A The sensational amount of tabloid press coverage at the time put police under huge pressure to gain convictions, so they coaxed three white men and one white girl into making fabricated incriminating allegations against the three black men.
6. Why did the Crown Prosecution Service commence with prosecuting the three
black men despite the victims descriptions ?.
8. Why did the jury ignore the descriptions from the victims at the trial to convict the three men? It may be that the jury were racist. It may be the jury wanted to believe the prosecutions fabricated incriminating allegations and circumstantial evidence. Since the trial one jury member has expressed the belief that the three black men were convictid because they were black. It may be the fact that the jury were denied knowlege, by the police, of the crucial notebook evidence that reinforced the victim initial descriptions
Would the jury have acquitted the three accused black men if they had known of the details from the victims in the police notebook ?
Would the jury have acquitted the accussed if they heard the detail that it was one of the two white youths who stabbed the victims son ?
Why was Mrs Napiers' description of the three assailants in the police officers notebook but not in her statement, made only a few hours later ?
The defence and jury were denied the opportunity of hearing and questioning the victims and the police officer about the contents of the notebook. What difference would that opportunity have made to the jury's verdict?
9. Why did the police officer who took the initial descriptions from the victims of
the second robbery, immediately after the offence, withhold the details of these descriptions
from the defence and the jury ?
10. How could the appeal court judges accept that it was wrong for the police to withhold the initial descriptions but conclude that it would have made no difference to the jury's decision ? A. Because they felt the jury had evidence already about the descriptions and had ignored it, and despite new information that came to light in the contents of the notebook, they concluded that further evidence would have been ignored too.
11. Why did the appeal courtjudges accept the jury's verdict that three black
men were responsible for the crimes and not two white men and one black man, as described
by the victims ?
After considering the details and descriptions of the three convicted black men there can be no other logical decision but to conclude none fitted the victims descriptions. Evidently, they do not have blue eyes or fair hair.
WHEN WILL THESE CONVICTIONS BE QUASHED ?
JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED,