In what is increasingly recognised as a miscarriage of justice for murder case, 21 year-old Sam Hallam has now been transferred from Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution to HMP Bullingdon.
Meanwhile, campaigners held a public meeting in support of his case on 8 October at Regan Way Community Hall. The original purpose of the meeting was to ask people to press the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) for a response to the new evidence submitted by the campaign.
Although campaigners have now had a letter from them saying that a caseworker had been appointed, the Commission is so under-funded that it has taken seven months just to get a caseworker allocated.
It is not clear the review will take but the investigating process, which includes access to police material, will be thorough and will take time.
The campaign team decided to go ahead with the public meeting saying that it is crucial that everyone continues to support Sam’s case: without support it will fail. They are asking people to keep supporting events – new ideas are welcome – and for anyone with information to come forward.The campaign which meets on the last Thursday of every month in St.Johns Church Green Hut – the next meeting will be on 30th October.
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the release of The Guildford Four, the first case in the modern era to draw attention to how many innocent people were being convicted – the Birmingham Six, the Tottenham Three, the Bridgewater Four, Judy Ward and many others. Sam Hallam was only fifteen months old when the Guildford Four were freed. Miscarriages of justice are clearly still happening, and as Gerry Conlon said, “If there’s a hell, it’s being in prison and knowing you’re innocent”.
It was October 2004 when Sam was arrested, 2005 when he was convicted and 2007 when his appeal was turned down. Campaigners are asking people to write to Sam at HMP Bullingdon. They say that there is a long way to go before the case is referred back to the Court of Appeal and that it will only be possible with continued public support. They are also urging anyone who has knowledge or evidence of events surrounding the murder to come forward and contact the campaign team.
Speech at the meeting by Patrick Maguire II, of the Maguire Seven:
“Firstly, I would like to thank (Sam’s mother) Wendy and the campaign team for inviting me. It’s good to see so many people given their support, not just for Sam, but for the family as well.
“Before I go on, I have to say that there is also another innocent person we should stop and think about. The young man (21 year-old Essayas Kassahun) who was murdered, for his family there is no hope in getting him back. He is gone. But that shouldn’t mean another innocent person should pay for a crime he didn’t commit.
“I know what it’s like to be where Sam is right now, and what the family are going through. I was 13 when sent to prison, nearly 19 when I got out. I wasn’t alone, my older brother was with me, also both my parents were sent to prison for 14 years each. It would be many years later before we got our family name cleared.
“And it was a hard fight all the way. One of the first things I said to Wendy was it’s not going to be easy. I’ve been to see Sam, with his Mum and Uncle John. I went because I was asked. Not that I needed to meet him, but it was the icing on the cake. I’ve lived with murderers, they can’t hide what they have done – it’s in their eyes, they live with it every day. And some, if not most, find that very hard.
“But Sam’s eyes were as fresh as clean water. That’s why I’m here, I believe this young man to be innocent, and should be set free, and I believe he will. But it will take time, it’s been too long already, but those who can set him free are never too quick to admit when they are wrong. … I just want to thank Wendy and her family, for letting me be a part in trying to bring her son home.”
Cards and letters of support should be sent to –
PO Box 50
For more information on the Sam Hallam Campaign, visit: www.samhallam.com/ 10 October, 2008