Described as “explosive” by the Irish Post and an “important” book by the Guardian ‘The Death of Justice’ continues to get five-star reviews on Amazon.
This is the inside story of a brutal murder as revealed by Michael O’Brien, one of the men wrongly jailed for more than a decade. The miscarriage of justice which followed sent shock waves through the British legal system.
The book contains a detailed analysis of the murder and police inquiry, a no-holds-barred view of life in jail and an essential guide for anyone trying to prove their innocence.
“An extraordinary, shocking and moving tale that climaxes in the triumph of the ordinary man against an incompetent and complacent Hydra-headed monster of society.” Western Mail
‘The Death of Justice’ is now available not only in paperback but as an e-book on Amazon. It is published by Y Lolfa.
This is a book everyone should read. It tells the story we do not want to really think is possible. How does an innocent person end up in prison? The police behaviour is undefendable. A very readable, unputdownable, book.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Dr. Charles Smith EVERYONE should read Michael’s book. You’ll be appalled at the things the police did, but don’t believe their story about ‘bad apples’. This behaviour was systemic, and recent events indicate that the CPS to this day is ill equipped to cope with it.
It is definitely the most informative book I have EVER read about our British Justice System. The book describes in detail how easy it is for any one of us to be falsely accused by our ‘trusted plod’ Huge eye opener but what a fantastic read, I will never look at the justice system the same ever again.
For anyone in doubt about the terrible damage done by a justice system which gets it wrong, this book is a must read.
For anyone fighting a wrongful conviction, Michael’s book offers hope, and the encouragement to never, ever give up. For anyone who thinks British Justice is the best in the world, this book will open your eyes. An incredible story, and a remarkable man.
I think that the content of the book would be beneficial to anyone who is helping to fight a wrongful conviction, as out of this harrowing story there is hope and encouragement. It would also be an eye opener to law students and those interested in the judicial system in our country. The only way we will learn and gain knowledge of how things can and do go wrong is by listening to and reading the accounts of those who have walked the walk, when the system gets it completely wrong.
Here’s an update on Michael O’Brien’s appearance at the Hay Festival by Duncan Campbell of the Guardian and here’s a recent interview by David James of the South Wales Echo with one of Mr O’Brien’s co-accused Ellis Sherwood.
The Michael O’Brien event at the Hay Festival has been confirmed for 10am on Saturday, May 23. O’Brien will be talking with The Guardian’s Duncan Campbell about the book The Death of Justice and his 11 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. I understand the event may already be sold out but there are some details here.
UPDATE: Mike will also be signing books at the Y Lolfa stall at around 3pm.
Michael O’Brien is set to appear at the 2009 Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye. O’Brien will take part in a question and answer session on his autobiography, The Death of Justice, which describes his wrongful conviction for murder, his battle to clear his name and an examination of what he believes went wrong in the investigation of the still unsolved murder of Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders. The 41-year-old, who served more than a decade behind bars for the murder, continues to campaign for other victims of miscarriage of justice. South Wales Police has had a difficult week, having to issue two apologies in the space of 48 hours – the first to a 63-year-old musician who was mistakenly arrested and strip-searched by armed police officers and the second to a grieving widow to whom officers returned the rope her husband had used to kill himself. O’Brien has never received an apology from the force. : The time of the Hay Q&A is to be confirmed but it is likely to take place on Saturday, May 23.
Barbara Wilding, Chief Constable of South Wales Police, has responded to the Wales This Weekprogramme on Michael O’Brien by publishing a statement on the force’s website. In the statement she refers to the civil action which the force settled out of court with Michael O’Brien and his co-accused Ellis Sherwood in 2006. O’Brien and Sherwood had started proceedings to sue the force for malicious prosecution back in 2001. Mrs Wilding states that the force made the settlement – and paid the accompanying damages – “without any admission of liability”. She then says that they “chose to accept the payments on that basis rather than going to trial” and that both they and their legal advisers “were fully aware that this made an apology inappropriate”. The force’s unwillingness to apologise to O’Brien, Sherwood and the third member of the Cardiff Newsagent Three, Darren Hall, has been a major motivating factor behind O’Brien’s continuing campaign. It is something he describes in detail in his new autobiography, The Death Of Justice. It would help him move on after an 11-year jail sentence which he did not deserve. In Monday’s programme on ITV Wales, O’Brien’s lawyer claimed that he clearly deserved an apology from South Wales Police, and most observers with knowledge of the murder investigation into Phillip Saunders’ death in 1987 and of evidence put before the Court of Appeal in December 1999 would surely have to agree. Today, Ms Ofer has responded to the South Wales Police statement. In a letter to the press (see Western Mail) she states that O’Brien “did not reach an out-of-court settlement willingly”. He was forced into a financial situation which meant he had no choice but to settle out of court. “He was desperate for the case to go to trial, but once the police paid £300,000 into court he was forced to settle against his will as his legal aid would be stopped as a result,” she explains. “Legal rules mean that if he had gone to trial and won and been awarded £300,000, all of the legal costs of both sides would come out of his damages. He therefore had no choice but to accept a settlement.” She adds: “South Wales Police were quoted as saying that an apology would be inappropriate. This is completely incorrect. Apologies are made by police forces as part and parcel of settlement on some occasions and one was requested in this case. “South Wales Police chose to make a payment into court a month before trial because they realised that there was a real risk that they would lose at trial. “Had they simply wished to save money they could have made a payment five years earlier, instead of spending these years and a huge sum of money on legal costs fighting the case all the way to the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.”
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.
A Bullet Saved My Life tells the remarkable story of Bob Peters, one of the last surviving veterans of the Spanish Civil War. Penarth-born Bob left Wales to go to Canada during the Depression. He found work on the Great Lakes and also became interested in politics. Early in 1937 he sailed from New York to France and was smuggled into Spain where he joined the International Brigades. He went into battle against Franco’s armies at Brunete and was shot in the back while crawling through a trench. The bullet was too near his spine to be removed. Bob was transferred from the frontline to work as a motorcycle dispatch rider. Incredibly, the bullet moved with the jarring impact of the rough roads and doctors could eventually cut it out. As casualties were so high in his former unit, Bob says that if he had stayed on the battlefield he would have been killed. The book features more than thirty photographs and fascinating reproductions of Bob’s membership, pay and safe passage documents relating to not only the International Brigades but the Socorro Rojo Internacional and the anarchist CNT union. It features a foreword by First Minister of Wales Rhodri Morgan and a preface by the late Alun Menai Williams, another International Brigader. The book is available from http://www.warrenandpellpublishing.co.uk/ and from Amazon. : Further reading Western Mail & Western Telegraph