Rough Diamond: documentary

ROUGH DIAMOND - feature length documentary / episodic

This is a mood clip which gives a vision for the film.

The true story of a false conviction and imprisonment and the effect it has on a young working class man, his family, and how it shapes the rest of his life. This is an insight into the mind of a man who had no chance to find his own way due to the corruption of others.

April 25th 1965, London. Ticket To Ride tops the charts. The Colenso Diamond, a legendary uncut 133-carat gem given to the Nation by John Ruskin, is stolen from the Natural History Museum. Months later, 500 yards from the crime scene, David Knight, a 24 year old window cleaner, is arrested by two Flying Squad detectives at his home, an apartment he shares with his mother and stepfather, (the Head Warder of the Victoria and Albert Museum). A fabricated confession and no other evidence convicts Knight at the Old Bailey at Christmas 1965. He receives a 3 year sentence.

David and his mother Dolly protest his innocence, writing to anyone who’ll listen, until in 1972, investigative TV show World In Action features the case. The famous journalist Paul Foot publishes evidence in Private Eye and other mainstream press, citing the dangerous precedent that has been set in British law: that a person can be convicted solely on verbal evidence. Subsequently both cops are imprisoned for perjury. The Home Secretary’s inquiry into the case is rejected at appeal with no pardon due to his associations in a prison he should never have been in.

It is this pivotal moment when David decides to put the skills learned in prison to good use - he has nothing to lose.

A spree of audacious crime follows: raiding country houses and a watch factory; stealing carpets from Harvey Nichols’ roof and Penthouse Magazine’s mailing list, (promising “the filthiest book ever published”, making thousands from embarrassed subscribers). A fake London taxi and Barney the sheep dog’s walks are used to stake-out wealthy London streets.

In one of the most colourful crimes of the 20th Century, “Diamond (Dapper) Dave’s” gang of west London chancers steal Vermeer’s “The Guitar Player” from Kenwood House and pay a spiritual medium to lead detectives on a wild goose chase. A piece of the canvas along with a ransom note typed on a child’s typewriter is sent to police, demanding the release of the IRA’s infamous Price sisters, the Old Bailey bombers, in exchange for the picture’s safe return. The police, under pressure, “negotiate”. The painting is found against a gravestone in the City of London - David walks away scot-free.

Revenge is sweet …… but injustice warps a man’s mind, especially when the State closes you down.

David writes hundreds of letters to global celebrities, TV stars and politicians: the original Pink Panther, David Niven, Woody Allen, the Queen and Frank Sinatra - astonishingly, many write back! When, not at all convincingly, he threatens to kill George HW Bush during a state visit to London, the FBI close in on him. The Establishment, never able to admit the original injustice, force David to be sectioned, drugged and institutionalised.

David Knight dies in 2009, still protesting his innocence.

The Colenso Diamond is still missing.

Director / Producer: Richard Carroll
Executive Producers: Richard Carroll, Amanda Kirke, Paul Hodgson
Writers: Richard Carroll, Amanda Kirke, Paul Hodgson

©colenso films ltd 2020