The Death of Justice: Michael O’Brien’s autobiography

Posted: August 30, 2008 in Uncategorized
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Michael O’Brien spent 11 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit.
In December 1999, after judges quashed his conviction, he asked me to write a piece about his two-week appeal.
That request turned into a plan to write a complete book of Mike’s life.
It is an incredible story.
Mike’s arrest and life sentence for the murder of Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders is just the start.
Locked up in some of Britain’s toughest jails, with inmates like Charlie Bronson, Mike had to learn how to act tough to survive.
He did not ask friends and relatives for ordinary presents like many others: he wanted law books.
He knew that to overturn his conviction he had to educate himself and organize his own campaign.
He had a lot to overcome. There was personal tragedy: the death of his baby daughter while he was on remand and his step-father while he was in jail.
And there were the legal obstacles. His conviction was based largely on the confession of one of his co-accused Darren Hall and the evidence of a policeman who claimed to have overheard a conversation between Michael and the third member of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three, Ellis Sherwood.
Michael’s cell-block campaign urged MPs and journalists to take an interest in the Newsagent Three case.
And after Darren Hall retracted his confession, the case caught the eye of the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
They referred the case to the Court of Appeal and just before Christmas 1999, Michael O’Brien, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall were able to declare themselves innocent men.
But it wasn’t the end for Michael. He has continued to champion other people’s causes as well as seeking what he believes is further justice for himself.
And, of course, there was the book. Now, complete, The Death Of Justice comes out on Monday, September 1, with a launch at Borders in The Hayes in Cardiff at 10am.
Crucially, it describes not only that decade in jail, but the ten years since: ten years in which Michael has struggled to come to terms with what has gone before.
Part of that has been the sense that in some people’s minds there is no smoke without fire, that the stench of that murder conviction hangs over Michael despite the Court of Appeal ruling.
He takes frankly about that on ITV at 8pm on Monday in a special edition of Wales This Week. For many years he has wanted to take a polygraph to put the doubts to an end.
On the programme he finally gets the chance to take the lie detector test.

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Comments
  1. Robin says:

    When are Judges going to stop keeping innocent people inprison for years when theyhave evidence which shows theyare innocent?

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