After 43 years, Stephen Simmons' theft conviction was overturned after a google search lead him to the real perpetrator
After more than 40 years of maintaining his innocence, a British man was finally cleared for a 1975 crime after a quick google search.
Forty-three years ago Stephen Simmons from Surrey was convicted of stealing mailbags from the Clapham Goods Yard in South London. In the United Kingdom, theft of individual mail or a mailbag is considered a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison.
Though he was 19 at the time, Simmons served eight months in a youth detention center for his crime. During his trial, and throughout his sentence he maintained his innocence. Even after his release, he continued to do so, despite having no evidence to back up his claims.
Then, five years ago, Simmons got a break. He was listening to a radio show when someone phoned in with some legal advice. When he got home he decided to take a chance, and followed the advice, Googling the name of the police officer who had arrested him. The quick search had told him all he needed to know.
The police officer who had arrested Simmons had been convicted a few years later, for stealing Royal Mail bags and framing other people for it.
Armed with his new knowledge, he brought his case back to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, who referred it to the Appeals Court.
“I am bitter, absolutely bitter against him,” Simmons said last year when the case was approved for review. “I want to let it go, but I can’t. Now I’m going to court and can have my day.”
On Wednesday, Simmons was present when the Court of Appeal overturned the conviction, finally clearing his name.
“We would wish only to note our regret,” said Chief Justice Lord Burnett, “that it has taken so long for this injustice to be remedied.”
Though he claimed to have been “100 percent confident” that the court would clear his name, Simmons admitted that he was extremely relieved.
“I can’t tell you how relieved,” he said. “It has only taken 43 years, but I have got there at last.”