How a ‘bent’ policeman could be key to clearing a man’s name, 40 years on

Stephen Simmons says he was wrongly jailed for mailbag theft in 1976. He was advised to Google the arresting officer, and discovered a disturbing history

Even Stephen Simmons’s own parents did not believe him when he told them he was completely innocent of a mailbag theft for which he was convicted and jailed back in 1976. But now, more than four decades later in a landmark case, he is hopeful that his name will finally be cleared after it emerged that the police officer who arrested him was not only a mailbag thief himself but also notorious for a series of high-profile cases that had major ramifications for race relations.

Simmons, now 62 and a businessman living outside Dorking in Surrey, was out with a couple of friends in Clapham, south London, just after midnight in June 1975. They were in his car when DS Derek Ridgewell of the British Transport Police (BTP) and two colleagues approached out of the blue. They were taken in for questioning about stolen mailbags.

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