#CCRC20: Our lives were destroyed that day
Another family’s story: The following account is by Susan, a South Wales Against Wrongful Convictions member. This is part of on 20 years of the CCRC
I am a proud sister to Colin, who has been convicted of a “crime” that never happened. I could be any of you – I am a mother of two, with grandchildren, and a supportive husband. My parents have been married for 60 years.
My brother ran a pub. After divorcing, he lived with a woman and her two children aged 10 and 6. He is a kind, caring human being, and was an easy going teenager who brought no trouble to his parents.
Our family horror started when a 26-year accused Colin of abusing her when she was 6. The weeks of duty solicitors and meetings and court appearances took us on the most nightmare rollercoaster ride. Our duty solicitors assured us the case would be thrown out of court within days. As a law-abiding innocent family, we believed them. Sadly, it turned out that they did no background work regarding my brother or the accuser. So Colin is now in jail, and we are traumatised.
After the devastating eight-day trial, the judge spent three and a half hours summing up for the accuser and 28 minutes for my brother. Two jury members fell asleep during this summing up. My brother was found guilty. He collapsed when the verdict was given. This kind human being who had never hurt anyone in his life, had lived a good life and was such a giving person, was reduced to a crumpled man on the floor in a courtroom for the first time in his life.
Colin was rushed to the nearest hospital by ambulance and it was discovered that the shock and stress had caused a heart problem, to go with his arthritic spine, bad knees, painful joints, and high blood pressure.
As the next oldest child, I returned home to have to break the devastating news to our mum who was 74 and dad who was 78. Colin would not let them attend Court to prevent them from the stress and upset. The look of horror on my mum’s face when we arrived without Colin was something I can never erase. Her beloved son, who was such an amazing human being, was tragically falsely accused and wrongly convicted. Colin returned home to our parents for Christmas with his family, then returned to court in January to be sentenced.
Our lives were destroyed that day, knowing our brother was not capable of doing what he had been accused of. His original statement had not altered one inch in court. Even the CPS remarked on this to the jury. This kind man, who everyone respected and loved, was destroyed.
My brother’s accuser led a troubled life, which may explain why she acted as she did. At the age of 15 she moved in with a man, dropped out of school then lived in a caravan with another married man. She asked Colin to employ her, which he did. She told people her boyfriend had beaten her. She became pregnant by a man 16 years older than her, and also began a relationship with another man 18 years older than her.
None of the accuser’s family or former partners were in court. One former partner says she owes him £2,000 and had asked him to break into another person’s garage so she could claim on the insurance money, when she was still living with a Mr X.
The accuser is also known to have told a series of other unrelated lies, but no-one was called to give evidence in court about her personality. I believe my brother 100%. He willingly gave his laptop to the police when asked. When the same policeman asked the accuser for hers, she said she couldn’t remember her log in details, and this was not followed up.
When my brother first went to prison he was on the phone crying, begging me to find a doctor who would examine her, as he was told she would be damaged/scarred. He also pleaded with me to find someone who would do a lie detector on him.
My mum and dad took out a loan to pay for solicitors to help with an appeal, and also to pay for the judge’s summing up. The new solicitors prepared 19 POINTS of new and unused material for the CCRC, but it was rejected. They are not in a position to take out a further loan to continue paying for a solicitor.
I have now taken to trying to do something about this miscarriage of justice. We are a working family but we are not rich. I have no legal training, but for the last four years of my life I have been fighting for my brother’s life, and we will continue to do so. If we fail with the CCRC my brother is prepared to go to the Press, but we’re not sure how much interest there will be as this is just another story – there are many others like us, and my brother is not a ‘celebrity’. My mother writes to politicians weekly hoping for some help. My dear mum and dad, who are now 78 and 82, love their son and us girls with all their hearts. We are a kind, normal family. There are no other accusers. There was NOTHING on his laptop. He has spent four years in prison, maintaining innocence. Like many others, he helps other men in similar positions in prison. He has put his life in my hands and I will never give up.
These young women must learn that they cannot use allegations to get a pot of gold. We must bring in lie detectors. We must stop pay-outs (unless it’s for counselling for real victims). We must put a time limit on the allegations. Those people who can make change happen must start to take this seriously as the epidemic that it truly is.