Derek Bentley was born in South London in 1933. He left school at an early age after failing to do well for his entrance examinations. He survived the World War despite having his house collapse on him during a bombing raid. That incident left him with head injuries and possibly affected his subsequent mental and physical development.

During his teenage years, Derek struggled to hold down a job. He mixed with bad company and flirted with petty crime. At 19 years old, he was illiterate and a medical examination for enlistment found him to be ‘mentally substandard’ and hence unfit for national service.

On 2nd November 1952, Derek and his companion Christopher Craig attempted to rob the warehouse of the Barlow and Parker Confectionary in Croydon. Christopher was 16 years old at that time, a tad younger than Derek. Despite being the elder of the two, Derek carried a knife …