Life after Life
Time stood still for John Kamara when he was given a life sentence in 1981 for a murder he didn't commit. For 19 years, he maintained his innocence, writing 30 letters a day to anyone who could help him to fight his cause. Finally, last year, John's conviction was quashed by the Appeal Court after it was revealed that over 200 witness statements had been withheld.
This programme tells the dramatic story of his first 12 months on the outside, as he returns to a modern world he no longer knows. It also exposes thee lack of support available to people like John who, because of their innocence, do not qualify for the help offered to convicted criminals.
From the moment when John left the Appeal Court, he was on his own - he had no means to find a job, nowhere to stay and a travel permit that lasted only a further three hours. Paddy Hill became John's lifeline. The two had met in Parkhurst in 1983. One of the Birmingham six, Paddy was released to a hero's welcome exactly a decade ago. But Paddy doesn't pretend that the last 10 years have been easy - he even believes now that he was better off in prison.
During John Kamara's two decades in prison, he wrote 300,000 letters campaigning for his freedom. He spent 16 years in solitary confinement - 23 hours a day in a cell on his own - so that he could concentrate on proving his innocence. Appeals failed, inquiries came to nothing but he refused to give up. "People would help me in prison, like give me stamps... I mean, these were people who were guilty and they would give me stamps and say "keep fighting". I just thought one day they would have to do something."
Finally, on 30 March 2000 John's conviction was quashed after it was revealed to the Court of Appeal that 201 witness statements had been found during an enquiry by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the body set up to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice. Three judges ruled that conviction was unsafe. His defence counsel said at the original trial that there had been a massive non-disclosure of evidence by the prosecution to the defence.
This programme begins when John Kamara wals out of the Appeal Court - BBC cameras travel with him during those first few moments of freedom. After nearly two decades in prison, being told what to do, he must learn to live again.
Running Time: 50 minutes (approx)
Database last updated: 24 May - 19:25