The Trial of Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig

Topics: MurderPolice

I think the speech for the prosecution is effective because it in a way leads you to believe that Craig and Bentley are just as guilty as each other, which isn’t necessarily true. The speech is cleverly written by having left out certain maybe even crucial pieces of information such as Bentley’s mental age of 11, which means others can easily influence him such as Craig.

I don’t think this was pointed out as it could have been misunderstood as slightly justifying Bentley’s actions, which wouldn’t have been fair in court and also the police officers wouldn’t have wanted any information to be said that may in any way work to Bentley’s advantage as they believe he was definitely involved in the murder of their colleague.

Based on the speech alone I get a clear impression about both defendants, Bentley and Craig. To me Bentley came across as a person with vicious intent due to the weapons he possessed and his later admittance to intending to break into the building and steal what he could.

The speech does imply Bentley being very involved in the shooting because he knew Craig had a gun but however still being a follower rather than a leader as he didn’t actually carry out the shooting but played a big part by shouting “Let him have it, Chris”. This section of the speech containing information about this statement by Bentley “I told the silly bugger not to use it” Was not entirely fair because it says “Completely contradicted by Bentleys earlier statement, Let him have it Chris” which implies that he had meant for Craig too fire the gun.

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This however isn’t the only explanation for Bentley shouting this phrase. He could have meant for Craig to let the officer have the gun but this isn’t stated in the speech and so works against Bentley. My impression of Craig straight away is that he is in fact a weak person who couldn’t face the punishment for his own wrong doing because when he realized he was going to be caught by the police he threw himself off the roof in an attempt to commit suicide and avoid sentencing.

As the speech continues Craig comes across as a disrespectful and rude individual as it is stated that there was a lot of swearing and abusive language spoken or shouted by him at the police officers. ‘Spiteful’ was also a word that sprang to mind about Craig where it goes on to say about him shooting at PC Harrison as he crept along. From the speech I learned that Craig and Bentley were 2 young males who had set out simply to break into Barlow & Parker Confectioners but ended up in a gunfight on the roof involving 4 police officers, one of which (PC Miles) was killed.

The idea of Bentley assisting Craig is sort of contradicted later because when Bentley is officially under arrest on the night of the shooting he was not physically being held by Sgt Fairfax and so had many opportunities to escape or sneak up on Fairfax to injure him, however Bentley did not even recognize these opportunities let alone use them. This taught me that Bentley must be unintelligent to say the least or maybe just scared but either way he didn’t take the chance available to him, as he would have done if he had set out with intent to willfully injure or kill the PCs.

Craig seems to be a trustworthy friend in the eyes of Bentley and he believes what Craig tells him. This is shown in the speech when it describes Sgt Fairfax and Bentley attempting and successfully getting themselves to the safety of a doorway and Bentley tells Sgt Fairfax “He’ll shoot you”. Obviously Bentley really believed this and has faith in his friend to help him escape but also the thought doesn’t cross his mind that Craig may even go to the extent of shooting at Bentley himself in attempt to injure Sgt Fairfax and assist his (Craig’s) own get away.

This again shows his character is easy to take advantage of. I also learnt a fair amount about the personality of Christopher Craig after reading the speech. He is a dominating male who is looked up to and respected by his peers, Bentley in particular. This is shown by the fact that Bentley even went with him that night to do something that he knew was wrong and wouldn’t have dreamed of doing before he met Craig.

Although Craig cannot read or write he is very clever in a tactical way with his actions, for instance he took advantage of Bentleys child likeness and silently persuaded him to carry defensive weapons by giving them to Bentley as a “gift” which he knew Bentley would treasure and carry with him in hope not to lose them. Near the end of the speech it is learned that Craig’s actions were in fact a method for him to in a way pay back the police force for putting his brother in jail. These actions do however show loyalty and also bring out a slightly caring (for his brother), vulnerable side to Craig.

Craig hides this side of his personality behind a wall of disrespectfulness which he shows in the next breath by swearing at the approaching Police Officer and saying he hoped he had killed the lot. After reading through the speech once I immediately felt no sympathy or compassion for either of the defendants, Craig and Bentley. However after re-reading the speech and looking deeper into some of the sections I began to feel sorry for both of them in a way but for different reasons.

I felt Bentley had been used simply as an accomplice and back up for Craig whenever he needed it. This made me feel bad for Bentley because he really thought he had made a friend and didn’t realize he had been used. The speech later quotes “Bentley was himself armed to that extent and, therefore, prepared to use violence”. Which in my opinion wasn’t true. As both of the weapons were given to Bentley by Craig, I think it was another scheme of Craig’s to make Bentley look as guilty if not more guilty than himself so maybe he wouldn’t get as harshly punished.

This remark is also working totally against Bentley in the way that he didn’t and probably couldn’t argue back because he was as afraid as an 11 year old would be, but again the jury didn’t take this into account. Bentley seems to be a confused person that often cant get out the right words for what he wants to say and later ends up contradicting himself. This is shown in the section of the speech where it clarifies Bentley’s statement. It is said that while in the police car on the way to the station Bentley said I knew he had a gun; but I didn’t think he would use it”. And in Bentley’s actual statement he again admits to having knowledge of Craig’s possession of the gun by saying “I did not know he was going to use the gun”. Near the end of the statement however, Bentley becomes confused and says “I did not have a gun and I didn’t know Chris had one until he shot” Although Craig was very sneaky and mean in the way he manipulated Bentley I still felt sorry for him although in a different way. The first thing that makes me feel this way was Craig’s loyalty to his brother.

He must have known he would get into a lot of trouble by firing at a police officer but he obviously felt inclined to do so, so the police wouldn’t get away with taking his brother away. There must have been great deal of devotion between the siblings for one to go to such extreme measures. I began to feel sad for Craig due to the fact he must have realized the force of his actions when it was too late to undo what had been done and he felt the need to attempt suicide to avoid punishment.

I didn’t feel sad because of Craig’s injuries but because he stooped to the level of not being able to face the music for his own actions is a very sad act. Video Case As I inspected the video case to the film ‘Let him have it’ the first thing I was drawn to looking at was the intriguing title. It is written in large basic, easy to read font and is very eye catching, as it is actually the headline of a newspaper used for the title. The fact that part of a newspaper is included on the case emphasizes the fact that the story is true and it involved real people.

Again bringing in realism is the quote by Iris Bentley (Derek Bentleys Mum) saying “I don’t want revenge I just want justice”. The font used for this quote is plain and bare so the right impression is given off. For example if the letters were all swirly and old fashioned it would suggest a fairy tale like story, which would be very misleading. The background of the case is black, which to me implied an eerie and tragic film. Positioned at the bottom of the front cover of the case is the image of Bentley and Craig both dressed in typical mob clothes for the time it was set.

This tells you what the film is going to be about but doesn’t give away too many details and therefore you are intrigued to watch it. The newspaper reviews are also excellent as they compliment the film and make you that little bit more curious about the storyline, The Independent “The hanging…. one of the most jolting scenes in British cinema” This quote lets you know that the trial leads one of the defendants to be hung but doesn’t hint to which one and so leaves it open to interest. The Mail “Powerful” Daily Mail Powerful and compelling” Both of these two reviews tell you that the film is very powerful, but do they mean powerful in the way that it will leave an affect on you mentally for instance you may want to offer your support to families of the characters involved or powerful in another sense? The only way to find out is too watch it. The overall effect of the video case leads you to believe you are going to watch a crime film. This is highlighted in the image of Craig more than Bentley due to his evil smile and the position he is holding a gun.

The word ‘murder’ is mentioned in the blurb which obviously also implies crime. The case is well set out as it gives enough information about the film to get you interested and intrigued but doesn’t give too much away about the story or the characters too make it not worth watching. I think the case is well set out but however slightly misleading. The fact that Craig is holding a gun in the picture implies that the film is going to be a typical gangster movie involving a lot of gun fights maybe in bars where masses of people get killed which isn’t the case in this film.

I think this may have been done cleverly as too get a wider range of people interested in watching the film. Film- Let him have it I think the purpose of this film being made is to clear Bentley’s name and highlight the family’s suffering. I think this because although it is a film, which connects immediately with entertainment I don’t think that was the main reason it was filmed. Using film is a clever way of making money because when a new film comes out lots of people tend to go to see it out of curiosity, especially if it’s true as the British nation is fairly nosey when it comes to other peoples business.

However as the viewers get stuck into watching the film I think they would be, like me drawn into sympathizing towards the Bentley family and hoping no court trials in the future have the same outcome. Highlighting the family’s suffering is another way of making sure history doesn’t repeat itself because a wide range of people would have watched the film including some judges who obviously wouldn’t want to wish that amount of suffering on anyone else’s family unless it be necessary.

As the film is based on a true story the detailed suffering would actually be closely related to what the family really went through I think this would make a fair amount of impact on different sets of people. For example other parents whose children had been tried at court who were found not guilty would be feel very thankful that their child and the rest of the family hadn’t had to go through the traumatic experience like the Bentleys and therefore may be interested in helping to clear Bentleys name.

Also parents whose offspring HAD been found guilty and had been executed would relate very closely to Bentley’s family and probably would offer their support in clearing Bentley as they would know how they (the Bentley’s) would be feeling. I think the film would appeal to more people than expected because after the film premiered there would be a lot of talk bout it, intriguing more people to go and watch it.

A wide variety of people would probably be interested in the film anyway such as judges and lawyers and other people who attend court regularly as they would be concerned about how the trial went and how the outcome came about. People who enjoy gangster type movies would also be intrigued to watch it due to the video case and the picture on the front of two males wearing mob- like clothes, which implies gangster. Avid crime film watchers would also be drawn to this film again because of the video case picture containing a gun and the blurb mentioning a murder.

Probably the film would interest a lot more people but in my opinion these are the main groups. At a first glance at the case the film didn’t appeal to me at all because I hate crime and murder and anything vaguely associated including films. However after watching it I thought it was very interesting especially in the courtroom scenes, as I didn’t know a lot about the way court was run before. Also I ended up feeling a lot of compassion towards Derek Bentley and his family and hope I never have to experience anything close to what they went through.

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The Trial of Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig. (2017, Dec 17). Retrieved from

The Trial of Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig
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