I’ve had plenty of time to mull over exactly what Derek meant when he said ‘let him have it, Chris’. It was supposed to be an easy burglary, why the hell did we take a sawn-off? Since Derek Bentley’s hanging I have swung between let him have it meaning give the policeman the gun and let him have it -shoot him. I have finally decided he meant shoot the police officer.
It was 28th January 1953 when Derek was hanged. My sentence was just 10 years, I was 16 you see so even though I pulled the trigger, the fact that Derek, who was 18 and said ‘let him have it, Chris’ meant that he was the one to suffer the death sentence.
It’s of little comfort that Derek Bentley was granted a posthumous pardon in 1998. He was my best friend and I let him die for my crime.