Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Bentley relatives 'thrilled' by appeal outcome
Maria Bentley-Dingwall outside the Court of Appeal
Maria Bentley-Dingwall, the niece of Derek Bentley whose murder conviction has been quashed by the Court of Appeal - has expressed her delight at the news.
She emerged smiling from the courthouse and told the waiting media: "All our fight has been worthwhile for this judgment. We always knew Derek never killed anybody.
"My mother was at the forefront of this campaign. She fought for 46 years of her life and lost it last January.
"She really did deserve to be here celebrating with us and, besides Derek not walking free and my mother not being here, today is a great victory for British justice."
Ms Bentley-Dingwall later said: "I'm absolutely thrilled and so happy, but my mum should be sitting here with me."
She also said she hoped capital punishment would never be reintroduced.
"There always could be miscarriages of justice."
Ms Bentley-Dingwall added: "The death penalty is so final. It is down to the penal system to rehabilitate those who commit murder."
"The story of the Home Office obstruction and indifference is atrocious. They had every opportunity year after year to refer this case to the court or to a public inquiry," he said.
He also criticised the Home Office for their treatment of the Bentley family.
"They then asked to see the grave in the prison. That was refused. They then asked for a Christian reburial outside the prison. Year after year that was refused."
He expressed his amazement that he had never been called to give evidence or reports of his time as Bentley's teacher.
He spoke of Bentley as a non-violent, "educationally subnormal" boy who could not read or write.
"He was bullied and easily led. He was never a leader. Whenever there was a plan to do anything, he was always left and held responsible while the others escaped."
Dennis Bentley, Derek's brother, spoke with sadness of the effect the murder conviction had on his family.
"I watched the family disintegrate. It is hard to analyse it so much now but it was a slow process."
Mr Bentley also expressed his regret that his sister, Iris, who fought the campaign for the conviction to be quashed, never saw the outcome of her struggle.
"There is no celebration. My brother can be laid to rest but there are no winners," he said.
Bentley's accomplice, Christopher Craig, who fired the fatal shots, issued a statement expressing his regret that it had taken so long for the conviction to be overturned.