Not knowing that Benson was a nark, Acka followed the criminal code and pretended the robbery had been a one-man job.
Police went along with this, and the trial judge consequently sentenced Acka to eight years, not realising there were powerful mitigating circumstances. It was a friend in prison who figured it all out and persuaded Atkins to appeal.
He wondered why Benson was still driving around in the car he had used for the robbery. The clinching indicator was a letter written by Benson to Acka in jail threatening to kill him if he squealed.
Benson’s role in this affair can now be published because it all came out at the appeal. Amazingly, the prosecution did not challenge Acka’s claim that the robbery was a secret set-up.
Lord Justice Beldam cut Acka’s sentence in half, which led to his release earlier this month. The judge commented: “It is now well-established in these courts that if a person is encouraged to embark upon a criminal offence and the court is satisfied that the offence would probably not have been committed but for the encouragement given by the informer, it will substantially discount a sentence which would otherwise be appropriate.”
But what about the gun given to Acka by Benson?
I have discovered that the police did not even send it to a forensic laboratory for scientific checks. No fingerprints were taken and the rifling on the barrel was not analysed.
We do not, therefore, know if it was used in a previous crime. Or even if it was police property.
These and other worrying features make it imperative that my disclosures about the Kevin Atkins case are now properly investigated.