Let Him Have It…

by DT

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Let Him Have It, is a 1991 British film, which was based on the true story of the case against Derek Bentley, who was hanged for murder under controversial circumstances on 28 January 1953. While Bentley did not directly play a role in the murder of PC Sidney Miles, he received the greater punishment than the gunman (who was below the age of 18). It stars Christopher Eccleston as Bentley, with Paul Reynolds, Tom Courtenay and Tom Bell and was directed by Peter Medak.

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The title of the film is taken from Bentley’s alleged cry of “Let him have it, Chris!” shortly before Christopher Craig shot and wounded the first policeman on the scene. Crown prosecutors suggested that Bentley meant “Go ahead and shoot him,” whilst Frank Cassells for the defence argued that he meant “Give him the gun” (and thus, surrender).

Craig was sentenced to gaol “at Her Majesty’s pleasure”, and spent ten years there. He has been a law abiding citizen ever since.

Derek Bentley’s father bought an expensive bottle of wine in 1958 to celebrate their victory should Derek be proved innocent. However, Bentley’s parents never got to drink it. His father William Bentley died on 12 July 1974 and his mother died on 10 October 1976.

The film’s end titles state that Bentley’s sister, Iris, was still fighting for his pardon, however seven years after the film was made and after numerous unsuccessful campaigns to get Derek Bentley a full pardon, his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal on 30 July 1998. However, Bentley’s sister had also died by this point.