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1975: Davis campaigners stop Test match

VIDEO : Couple arrested are to face vandalism charges

Campaigners calling for the release of robber George Davis from prison have vandalised the pitch at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds.

They dug holes in the pitch and poured oil over one end of the wicket.

The walls surrounding the ground were also daubed with the now- familiar slogans demanding the release of Davis, the east London minicab driver jailed for his part in an armed robbery.

The damaged pitch was discovered early on Tuesday by the head groundsman, George Cawthray.

Mr Cawthray said: "When I first saw the damage it did not sink in. I was amazed. I thought I should be able to repair the holes but it was the oil that did the damage."

The campaigners' actions led to the final match between England and Australia on Tuesday being abandoned.

It was declared a draw robbing England of the chance to win back the Ashes and the trophy.

'Mistaken identity'

Detectives are searching for several men believed to have travelled from London to Leeds on Monday.

Four police officers from Leeds have travelled to London to assist the Metropolitan police in their investigations

Davis, 34, who was sentenced to a 20-year term last year, is serving his sentence at Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight.

His supporters say he was the victim of mistaken identity and did not take part in a payroll robbery in Ilford, Essex, when a police officer was shot and injured.

Since Davis' imprisonment they have organised marches, petitions and fund-raising events to increase public awareness of his case.

In May two campaigners - Davis' brothers-in-law Jim and Colin Dean - carried out a seven-hour roof-top protest at St Paul's cathedral in London.

In Context
Four people were tried for digging up the pitch at Headingley.

Three received suspended sentences but one, Peter Chappell, was jailed for 18 months.

After the Headingley incident an internal inquiry was set up to investigation the Metropolitan police's handling of George Davis' case.

He was released in May 1976 after Home Secretary Roy Jenkins said there was serious doubt about his identification - which was based on the evidence of two police officers.

However in July 1978 he was jailed for 15 years after pleading guilty to taking part in a bank robbery.

Davis was freed in 1984 but three years later he was sentenced to 18-months for attempting to steal mailbags.


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