Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/296/13898
Gary Mills and Tony Poole: Fighting Police Corruption
Gary Mills and Tony Poole, two Gloucester men, were fighting their third appeal last week. Since 1989 they have been campaigning to force the justice system to admit that they were wrongly convicted of the murder of Hensley Wiltshire, a black man who died in Gloucester police custody.
This case, a combination of a wrongful conviction and a death in custody, was always going to be a hard struggle because police officers never face murder or even manslaughter charges for deaths in custody.
But if Gary and Tony didn't kill Hensley, what happened in the police cells that caused his death? A statement from a prisoner in the cells was hidden from the defence team for six years. He heard a struggle with racist abuse. Police claim 'his head gently tapped against the cell wall'; photos later revealed blood everywhere.
Earlier Hensley had attacked Gary with a knife and was injured with his own weapon. The hospital described the wounds as 'superficial'. He left hospital into police custody. He died the next day with 60% more injuries, including a broken leg, three broken ribs and numerous gashes. Tony took no part in the fight. He was charged because he wouldn't lie to convict Gary.
A leading officer, DI Gladding, was also taped threatening another witness with murder charges if he gave evidence; he later lost a libel case with the TV programme Trial and Error.
A previous appeal found that police had falsified statements, lied and encouraged witnesses to lie but then concluded that this would not have affected the decision of the original jury. However, the Lord Chief Justice has now been forced to admit that a jury would have been 'deeply influenced'.
Corruption is everywhere in this case. The only evidence left is that of one witness. She changed her statements several times, had fraud and drug charges overlooked, was involved with Fred and Rose West and was paid money on the orders of a police officer. He was later officially honoured for his police work.
As Gary says: "This is another case that shows the police are not accountable. The authorities knew we were innocent from day one. Our conviction was there to cover up the criminal behaviour of the police."
This case, like thousands of others, shows the police must be under the democratic control of the community, accountable to those they are supposed to serve. Corrupt officers must be prosecuted, and any inquiry into police corruption must be truly independent.
Write to Gary Mills (WM 0469) at HMP Springhill, Grendon Underwood, Aylesbury, Bucks
And Tony Poole (WM 1030), HMP Shepton Mallet, Cornhill, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 5LU.
In The Socialist 19 April 2003: