Powerful film about one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in modern British history - the hanging of Derek Bentley. It's 1952 and the easily-led 19-year-old Bentley has fallen in with 16 year old Christopher Craig and his south London hoodlums. The pair rather haphazardly decide to rob a local butchers but are apprehended by the police. Bentley immediately gives himself up but Craig, full of anger after his brother's recent imprisonment, pulls out a gun and starts firing at the officers. The captured Bentley screams "let him have it Chris" but is he imploring Craig to hand over his gun or continue shooting? Craig fires the gun seriously wounding one officer and half-an-hour later kills another policeman before his capture.
Cue to the trial, Christopher Craig is found guilty of murder but is too young to hang whereas Bentley is astonishingly found guilty for his "let him have it" plea and a capital sentence is passed. Despite the jury's recommendation for leniency and a massive public outcry, the 19 year old with the IQ of a boy of 11 is sent to the gallows just one month later at Wandsworth prison.
Let Him Have It powerfully tells the story of this terrible travesty with a young Christopher Eccleston in the lead role. Some of the acting is a bit hammy but this doesn't really matter when the main purpose of the film is its message. The film also presents an interesting historical picture of life in urban Britain in the rationing years after the Second World War.
Derek Bentley's parents campaigned for his official pardon till their deaths in the 70s and, at the time of the movie's release in 1991, this still wasn't forthcoming. Finally Derek's beloved sister Iris received the state's acceptance of the mistake which she had fought all her life for in the 2000s, at last bringing to a close one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the UK in the 20th Century.
Let Him Have It is a strong, well-produced, issues-led narrative and is well worth seeing.