Justice system “turned back” on Hoxton miscarriage of justice victim Sam Hallam
- Credit: Archant
Paul May, the Birmingham Six campaigner, who helped secure Sam Hallam’s release after seven years in jail for a murder he did not commit has blasted the authorities for “turning their backs on him”.
Mr Hallam was just 18 when he was jailed for life with a minimum of 12 years for the murder of Essayas Kassahun in a gang attack in Old Street in October 2004.
But the Court of Appeal quashed the Hoxton man’s conviction on May 16 last year, after the crown dramatically withdrew all opposition to his appeal.
His mother Wendy Cohen, said afterwards that her family had been “through hell”, and while he was in prison Mr Hallam’s father Terry committed suicide.
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The appeal court heard Hallam, now 25, was jailed as a result of a flawed investigation which failed to follow lines of inquiry and in which the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service withheld evidence.
The appeal was brought after the criminal cases review commission instructed an outside police force to investigate – which is very rare.
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Paul May, who also helped secure the release of miscarriage of justice victims the Birmingham Six, lead the long campaign to secure Mr Hallam’s release.
One year on Mr Hallam has still received no compensation from the Ministry of Justice – but Mr May told the Gazette that Mr Hallam and his family are more angry about the lack of official help he has been offered.
“I’m pleased to say Sam has secured employment with a large retail company under his own efforts, but he got no assistance – the day he came out he didn’t have anyone from the Ministry of Justice asking if he had anywhere to stay,” said Mr May.
“The minute he walked out they just turned their backs on him, that’s more annoying and insulting than the question of compensation.”
He continued: “Sam is working and earning and getting on with his life, but the fact is no one was helping in the immediate aftermath – it’s very important that somebody says sorry, and a practical way of saying sorry is saying: ‘We are going to help you’.”
Mr May said Mr Hallam is coping very well: “In fact I would say that Sam is in a better state one year on than any other prisoner that I’ve had dealings with in the past.
“It’s partly all the support he had from the outset, his family were there in large numbers before the campaign came along and a great many people in Hoxton, maybe that’s helped.”
Mr May added: “I personally think the state should provide financial compensation because he did lose seven years of his life, but it’s not uppermost in Sam’s mind – he’s far more pleased that he’s got employment.
“For young people nowadays that’s not easy whether you’ve been to prison or not.”
The Ministry of Justice said they do not comment on individual cases.