Drama offers ray of hope to Hoxton murder convict Sam Hallam

A Hoxton man serving life in prison for a murder he says he did not commit is hoping a new play will help him in his struggle for long-awaited freedom.

Sam Hallam, 24, of Purcell Street, has already spent seven years in jail after being convicted of killing Essayas Kassahun in Old Street, Shoreditch, in 2004.

His supporters say he was wrongly identified as being involved in the fight which led to the death. And they hope Someone To Blame, which opens at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington in March, will expose the truth ahead of a vital hearing at the Court of Appeal in the first half of next year.

The play, directed by David Mercatali and written by Tess Berry-Hart, draws on police statements, court transcripts and independent interviews, which are retold verbatim.

Its title comes from a comment made in court by the only eye-witness, who admitted that when she accused Sam she was looking for “someone to blame”.

In a letter written from Bullingdon Prison, Sam said: “Only by making some noise and bringing it firmly into the public eye can we hope that the case will receive the appropriate public attention and scrutiny in order to overturn my conviction.”

The campaign for his release is being led by Paul May, who was responsible for exposing high-profile miscarriages of justice such as the Birmingham Six.

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“We have always believed that it is important that Sam’s case is not dealt with behind closed doors,” he said.

“And in the broader sense, the play conveys what it is like to suffer a miscarriage of justice and what the affect of that is – not just on the individual but also their family, friends and supporters.”

Director David visited Sam in prison while researching his case. He said he believed his story “needed telling”.

“I just hope it raises a lot of awareness. Sam has a lot of support in Hoxton and in Hackney but I think the play will make more and more people aware of his case. I hope so because I honestly believe it was a miscarriage of justice