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“Derek William Bentley (30 June 1933–28 January 1953) was an Englishman who was hanged for the murder of a policeman, which was committed in the course of a burglary attempt. The murder was said at the time to have been committed by a friend and accomplice of Bentley’s, Christopher Craig, then aged 16, but whether he had fired the fatal shot was later called into question. Bentley was convicted as a party to murder, by the English law principle of common purpose, “joint enterprise”. This was so, even though Bentley was in police custody, when the fatal shot was fired. The jury at the trial found Bentley guilty based on the prosecution’s interpretation of the ambiguous phrase “Let him have it” (Bentley’s alleged instruction to Craig), after the judge, Lord Chief Justice Goddard, had described Bentley as “mentally aiding the murder of Police Constable Sidney Miles”. Goddard then sentenced Bentley to death: at the time, no other sentence was possible. Christopher Craig, the actual gunman, aged 16, was was ordered to be detained “at Her Majesty’s Pleasure”. He was eventually released, after serving 10 years’ imprisonment.
The Bentley case became a cause célèbre and led to a 45-year-long campaign to win Derek Bentley a posthumous pardon, which was granted in 1993, and then a further campaign for the quashing of his murder conviction, which occurred in 1998.” [emphases added].

The case arose out of the English Common Law. This has now been significantly amended, with the death penalty abolished. Texas law, almost certainly, was originally derived from these precedents.

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