“A man who was jailed 19 years ago for the murder of a betting shop manager in Liverpool was freed yesterday by the court of appeal when his conviction was quashed with immediate effect. John Kamara, now 44, from Toxteth, Liverpool, was convicted in 1981 with Raymond Gilbert of the murder of John Suffield, who was stabbed during a bungled robbery.
During the trial Gilbert changed his plea to guilty. Even though Mr Kamara continued to profess his innocence he was found guilty. But evidence emerged that another man confessed to police in 1987. Doubts were also cast on the fairness of Mr Kamara’s identity parade, and a bundle of 201 statements were not disclosed to the defence during the trial.
Mr Kamara’s younger brother Philip said after the ruling: “Justice has come right, but why did it take 20 years when he could have been out 12 years ago?””
“Convicted as a 24-year-old, his prison file shows he wrote more than 300,000 letters to MPs, campaigners and even the pope, fighting for his freedom with only the characters from Radio 4 dramas and the Archers on the radio in his cell for company.
It was the discovery of over 200 previously withheld witness statements that set Kamara’s release on course.
Scheduled to last a week, the judges took only three days to quash the conviction. Handed £46 and a travel pass that ran out at 8pm, he rejoined the world with only the clothes on his back and denied the support automatically given to people rejoining society.
In those first months, he faced the prospect of life on the streets. With no national insurance number, he could not access benefits and so had neither a home nor money.”
In November 2016, John Kamara spoke to students at the University of Leicester and there is an excellent blog post about it here: http://studentblogs.le.ac.uk/criminology/2016/11/02/20-years-wrongly-in-prison/
Channel 4’s Trial and Error programme took a close look at this case and you can find it on Inside Justice’s TV archive: http://www.insidejusticeuk.com/tv/tv-archive-the-case-of-john-kamara/8