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The Best Years of His Life

A father

By A father on 16/10/14

The Best Years of His Life

Next week an Inside Justice case will go back to the Court of Appeal.  Frustratingly, we can’t say too much about it because there are reporting restrictions in place. What we can say is that it has taken us three years to reach this stage.  This is a complex case involving forensic and medical evidence. We are indebted to forensic scientists from the Inside Justice Advisory Panel, Tracy Alexander and Dr Denise Syndercombe-Court, whose expertise and guidance has made it possible for this case to progress.  The current Legal Aid funding crisis has led to these experts and neuropathologist Dr Waney Squier plus solicitor Glyn Maddocks working entirely without recompense, as has the formidable Michael Birnbaum QC, who has devoted a very considerable amount of hours, pro bono, to this appeal.  Funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Roddick Trust and Inside Time has allowed Inside Justice to commission new audio forensic reports which form part of the appeal and were, again, refused Legal Aid funding.  The father of the young man convicted writes about the ordeal his family has faced:

The nightmare began for us on Thursday January 7th 2010. That was the day our lives would change forever, the day absolutely everything would be turned upside down. We had come back from holiday the day before to find our son not at home but thought nothing of it as he is a sensible young man and had probably just stopped over at a friend’s house. If only that had been the case. The fact that he was in police custody became apparent when the police (CID and uniformed) arrived in force at our home, told us he had been arrested and started searching through our personal belongings, going through all the drawers and cupboards and even the waste bins. They took away all of our, and our son`s computers and phones. We are just a normal family and had never had any dealings whatsoever with the police and had the greatest of respect for them. We had no idea what they were searching for and felt helpless and violated. We learnt that day that our kind, peaceful son had been accused of an appalling act of violence. He`d never been in trouble at school and had never been violent toward anyone in all his life. He worked hard at a firm who`d employed him for 4 years and was thought of very highly and well liked. What he had been accused of was totally opposite to his placid easy-going temperament.  

He was refused bail which didn`t help us in the period up to trial as we worried about him being in prison, an alien environment, and could only visit for a few hours a week. He appeared to cope very well because he had faith in the justice system and thought it would be obvious at the forthcoming trial that he was innocent. That faith was to be shattered for us all.

After spending 6 months on remand, our young son was convicted of attempted murder. The fact that he was convicted came as a massive shock to us all, his family, friends and all that knew him as no one could believe for one second that this placid, calm and sociable young man would be capable of such a terrible and brutal crime. We knew then and still believe that he had been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice. The police only ever looked for evidence to convict our son and introduced into the court pieces of pure, unproven speculation to achieve a ‘result’. They had got their man and they went ahead and did whatever was required to acquire a conviction. It is difficult to express the impact that this has had on our lives. Despair, disappointment (at the police/CPS), frustration, fear (for our son’s safety), devastation, a sense of loss and emptiness, desperation. It was the sort of thing that, as they say, ‘happens to someone else’ and even now it is like we are in a dream and can’t wake up. We think of, and worry about, our son constantly. We go to bed with it, we wake up with it. The word nightmare does not begin to describe what we are going through.

We cannot express how much we miss our son. We, and all who know him, know he is innocent. What he has been convicted of is totally contrary to his personality and character and the court case was transformed by one dramatic piece of, consequently discredited, evidence. We will never forgive the prosecution and police for the way they took away our son`s liberty. He is spending the best years of his life in prison.

We have spent a lot of time since our son`s conviction nearly 5 years ago trying to uncover new evidence but it has been an uphill struggle as the wheels of justice turn very slowly and many tears of frustration have been shed. We now have a date for the appeal at the end of October and look forward to that day with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. We hope and pray that our son is not let down by the justice system yet again.