To be honest I though I had head the very last of George Davis years ago so it was a surprise to see an article about him in yesterday’s Independent. But 33 years after he was imprisoned for an armed robbery George Davis is preparing to return to court in an attempt to finally establish his innocence.
Davis says he wants to vindicate the many friends and family who mounted a campaign in the 70s to free him from prison. He is often reminded of the campaign and claims he deserves compensation for the two years he spent in prison. He said: "I want to clear my name for the people who believed in me at the time and for all those who were in the campaign. But also for myself, so that people know that I was telling the truth."
Davis was arrested with three other suspects in April 1974 after he was identified as one of the five men who undertook an armed payroll robbery at the Ilford offices of the London Electricity Board. He was identified by five police officers, and a civilian who had seen a robber running away after abandoning a getaway car.
But it emerged that one of the officers partly retracted his evidence saying he could not be sure it was Davis he saw while the civilian witness failed to identify him at an ID parade. Davis also had an alibi. He had witnesses to say that he was working as a taxi cab driver, a claim supported by a log book detailing his jobs for that day.
Davis was convicted on two counts and sent to prison for 20 years, later reduced to 17 years on appeal. Peter Chappell, who had testified on behalf of Davis was so convinced he was innocent that he led one a vociferous campaign which included digging up the cricket pitch at Headingley (The main ground used by Yorkshire and a venue for international cricket matches). The Home Secretary decided to exercise the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and release Davis after two years but he made it clear that this did not mean Davis was an innocent man.
30 years later Davis says he is still being punished for a crime he did not commit. "My life and livelihood has been very badly affected by that conviction. Twice I have applied for a London cab licence and twice the police have turned me down."
It is pretty certain that George Davis was the victim of a "fit up" for the LEB robbery but sadly for his advocates he was no hapless victim. Many of those who campaigned for his release must have felt like utter idiots when he was arrested just a year later for robbing the Bank of Cyprus, a crime for He was also caught during a mail train robbery in 1987. I somehow think these little infringements may also have been taken into consideration when considering his suitability to drive a black cab! I just get the feeling that the current action would garner a lot more sympathy had he “gone straight” in the 70s….
Wikipedia article about George Davis