Saturday, 23 March 2013

Joint Enterprise - A Bitter Truth


After five and a half years of struggling to get the truth out, the story from Saturday’s Guardian is still only a tiny fraction of it all (  If it can be so difficult to tell a true account, how hard do you think it is to get a case to the Court of Appeal?
Last year when Sam Hallam was released, I cried with joy and tried to imagine what it felt like to be his mum.  She must have been ecstatic, the fight was over and she could hug, love, feed, and cherish her son at home from that day onwards.  She could smile to him, laugh with him and know that each night he was safely sleeping in his bed under her roof.
After reading her story in this week’s Guardian, I now realise my dream is just another nightmare waiting to happen.  That my beautiful little boy who left the family home on a sunny August morning in 2007, will return a scarred and damaged man without any possibility of a future.
I am starting to realise that a wrongful conviction means your life is over no matter what the outcome.  Jordan has already told me he feels his life is ruined beyond repair, and no one will care about him once his freedom is regained.  And I worry that he may have used up all his strength to survive a life in prison, leaving none left for when he comes home.
People still truly believe convictions are easily quashed.  The truth is there is no way out - especially if you are convicted as part of a joint enterprise.  And there certainly is no enormous compensation payout for those who are lucky enough to have their conviction quashed, and I say lucky because luck has far more to do with it than natural justice.
When I read Wendy’s interview I realise there will never be a simple apology for the stealing of my child’s teenage years and his early manhood, and ultimately his future.  Let alone a Doctor’s appointment to gain access to counselling to help relieve the trauma of those nightmare years, where he sat blind and terrified in a lonely prison cell.  There won’t be anyone to help him build a new life on the outside, to help him find a home, a job or even a friend.
If the public think the wrongly convicted receive emotional or physiological help, or even financial compensation to help them start a new life, they are very wrong.  Yet I get the impression the public feeling is that those whose lives have been unduly ripped to shreds, are victims too, and do deserve all the help they can get.
My blood runs cold when I think of how there was all the money in the world to convict Sam Hallam and Jordan Cunliffe.  And over the years there has been millions more poured into the prison system, just to keep all three of the innocent people who appeared in the Guardian locked away.  If Sam had not been released last year the system would have gladly continued pumping millions more into keeping him in prison and felt it was worth every penny, just as it does with Jordan and hundreds of others.
Why do we put up with this abuse?  It’s not new, it has always been this way, promises are made, but are never kept, and changes are brought in that make little if no difference.  And the taxpayer is expected to pick up the tab for all of this expensive misery.
It is time people realised we do not have the best Justice System in the world; so let’s stop using this outdated phrase, as it is meaningless; all we have is the best system in the world of lying to the public about our failing Justice System.  Let’s demand that those who have the power to make a difference stop being so lazy, so arrogant and downright incompetent and force them to acknowledge the problem.  Let’s put pressure on until something is done about it.  After all it is our lives and our money being squandered.
Until we do there will be no apologises.  There won’t be any help for Sam Hallam to rebuild his desperately ruined life, let alone anyone else until we make it clear we have had enough.  When they acknowledge this terrible abuse, then mistakes can be swiftly rectified before even more damage sets in, but there is little hope of that unless people make these demands.  As it stands there is nothing, just worn out broken families.
Imagine if this happened to you, you are happily living your life, then overnight you become one of the most hated, vilified human beings in Britain, you’re locked away and no one will listen to you.  Then after many years of anguish you’re released into a world that has changed so much you hardly recognise it.
And you’re supposed to pick up the pieces, and continue alone, without even a simple sorry.  We don’t have to put up with this...please sign the petition.
Janet Cunliffe
Janet Cunliffe