Ben Coulter, a naive young student, has sex in a council flat with a pick-up. When he wakes up before dawn he sees that the girl has been murdered. He panics and makes a run for it but is eventually arrested. All the evidence points to him as a killer though seedy duty solicitor Stone is on his side.
Charged with the murder of the girl he slept with, Ben is remanded in custody to await his trial. He is a fragile boy in a very brutal world. Fortunately he is sharing a cell with kindly old-timer Hooch,who attempts to look out for him, but he is young and pretty and vulnerable and another recent remand, Milroy, exploits him in order to curry favour with the fearsome prison 'daddy', Freddie Graham.
In preparation for his trial Ben's case is given to a hot shot feminist barrister, Alison Slaughter, but the naive youngster is concerned that her only concern in getting him off the murder charge is to blacken the name of the victim in order to reduce the severity of the charge. He is unwilling to play along and she rejects his case.
Things look very bleak indeed for Ben as his Not Guilty trial proceeds and the prosecution lawyer tears him to shreds in the court. Trainee barrister Frances Kapoor now has his defence but she is letting her heart rule her head and will ultimately pay the price for it. Stone tries desperately to find a witness that will help the boy's cause.
As Ben's defence looks shaky the jury seem indisposed to sympathising with him whilst Frances goes out on a limb at the expense of her own career,given her feelings for him. However it is inspector Harry Box who comes up with the clinching evidence that will set Ben free thanks to careful study of CCTV cameras which link the true murderer to other events on the estate that night.