Saturday, 29 December 2012

Cases From The Past

Today I wish to travel back in time to some cases from when I was growing up.  First off, a case that grew into a cause celebre`.  In 1972, a fire broke out in a london flat, and the emergency services discovered the body of a man, named Maxwell Confait. It emerged that Confait was a male prostitute, who was also a transvestite and called himself Michelle.  The original prime suspect was the property landlord, Winston Goode.  It transpired that they had a close friendship though Goode denied any homosexual relationship.  However, during questioning, he let slip that he knew Confait was planning to move out and this upset him.  

    There were a number of conflicting conclusions with the autopsy, with some distinguished pathologists on both sides of the divide.  Goode was released, took an overdose and was admitted to hospital, suffering memory loss.  Soon afterwards, he committed suicide.  There were then a spate of fires being set and Police arrested three teenagers aged 18, 15 & 14.  The eldest had a mental age of just 8, but all were questioned intensively without any adult presence.  All claimed that they were beaten by Police and confessed to the crime.  At trial, all three were convicted, with one being sent to Rampton Psychiatric Hospital.  The families of the boys fought the convictions, and eventually, Home Secretary Roy Jenkins referred it back to the Court of Appeal.  The resulting enquiry cleared the three boys and a new case investigation pointed the finger at somebody else.  The new suspect later committed suicide before charges could be brought.

    How about the great corruption trial in 1972 of a number of high ranking Metropolitan Police Officers, including Wallace Virgo, head of C1 department which incorporated a number of specialist police squads, including the Porn Squad, and Bill Moody, the head of the Porn Squad.  It seemed that they operated the most lucrative protection racket in London, with pornographers paying huge sums of money to them for a licence to trade.  No payments meant anybody plying their trade without the okay of Virgo & Moody was closed down and prosecuted.  They and a number of junior officers were convicted, though Virgo`s was overturned on appeal, if I recall correctly.

    Another Police trial concerned members of the Drugs Squad, with some going to prison.  The head of the squad, Vic Kellaher, resigned from his job amidst the scandal.  The most notorious member of the squad was Sgt Pilcher, who garnered a reputation for busting rock stars.  It was said that if no drugs were found on the premises raided, then drugs mysteriously appeared, and we all know that Police Officers did not plant drugs or do anything untoward.  Pilcher`s first celebrity arrest was folk singer Donovan, then he got Lennon & Harrison, then Jagger & Brian Jones.  Others followed but what comes around, comes around.  Pilcher was sent down.