George Davis is OK: 1974 conviction for Ilford armed robbery quashed
A man who has spent decades denying his involvement in an armed robbery in Ilford has today won an appeal against conviction.
George Davis’s case became part of criminal folklore after he was jailed over a raid in April 1974 at the London Electricity Board.
Today, three judges at the Court of Appeal allowed the conviction challenge brought by Mr Davis, now 69.
Mr Davis was present in the packed courtroom for the announcement, made by Lord Justice Hughes.
At a hearing earlier this year, Mr Davis’s QC argued that his Old Bailey convictions for robbery and wounding with intent to resist arrest should be overturned.
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It was submitted that evidence to show the convictions were unsafe “has been in the hands of the authorities since at least 1977”.
Mr Davis was originally sentenced in March 1975 to 20 years.
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The same year the Court of Appeal rejected a conviction appeal bid, but reduced his sentence to 17 years.
His case attracted widespread attention in the 1970s, with punk band Sham 69 writing a song about him.
Mr Davis’s sentence was remitted by royal prerogative and he was released from prison in 1976.
He was arrested again in September 1977 and later pleaded guilty to his involvement in an armed robbery at the Bank of Cyprus in London. He was sentenced to 15 years, reduced to 11 years on appeal.
Lord Justice Hughes, sitting with Mr Justice Henriques and Mrs Justice Macur, said when quashing his conviction: “There can of course be no question of retrial at this remove of time.”
He added: “We do not know whether Davis was guilty or not, but his conviction cannot be said to be safe.”
After the ruling, Mr Davis said in a statement: “This is a bitter-sweet moment for me. I am, of course, delighted that my conviction has been quashed.
“I have been protesting my innocence since 1974.”
He said he had always claimed he had been falsely identified “but it should not have taken 36 long years for me to be able to stand here like this”.
He added: “I have made it clear that I have no intention of seeking compensation for my wrongful conviction.”