MISCARRIAGE OF Justice victim Frank Johnson was greeted by friends, supporters and a media melee outside the Court of Appeal in London at the end of June after a panel of three judges quashed the Tipperary man’s conviction for the murder and robbery of shopkeeper Jack Sheridan in 1976.
The Appeal judges, who ruled that the original conviction was unsafe, stressed that Johnson, who has always maintained his innocence, should not have stood trial in the first place due to his poor state of health at the time. Members of the Connolly Association were among those at the court to giving their support and welcoming his release.
Johnson, who is now 66, spent his first night of freedom in the home of fellow miscarriage of justice victim Billy Power, one of the Birmingham Six, as the prison authorities had failed to make any arrangements for his release.
A government pilot scheme aimed at assisting miscarriage of justice victims to re-settle into ordinary society is not due to begin operating until 2003.
Unfortunately, it could also be many years before Johnson receives full compensation for his wrongful imprisonment.
Birmingham Six members Hugh Callaghan and Paddy Hill have only recently accepted final compensation awards, eleven years after the Court of Appeal quashed the six men’s convictions for the 1974 IRA Birmingham pub bombings.
The money -- Hill’s payment is believed to have been around £1m -- can never fully compensate for their years of wrongful imprisonment. However both agree that it’s time to move on and are glad that their long-running battle with the Home Office for adequate compensation is now over.
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