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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Innocent men must pay prison bill
Vincent and Michael Hickey
Vincent and Michael Hickey spent 18 years in prison
Two men wrongly jailed for murder for 18 years must pay for the money they saved in "board and lodgings" while in prison, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Cousins Michael and Vincent Hickey were convicted of murdering newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater in November 1979.

An independent assessor ruled their "loss of earnings" compensation should be cut by 25% to cover living expenses.

The High Court overturned the ruling - but the assessor appealed, arguing it had been "lawful and reasonable".

Lord Brennan QC, the Home Office-appointed assessor, had awarded Michael Hickey, 42, 990,000, and Vincent Hickey, 49, 506,220, subject to deductions for expenses which they would have incurred as free men.

But in April 2003, High Court judge Mr Justice Maurice Kay ruled the deductions were unlawful.

They could not comprehend how anyone aware of the circumstances of their imprisonment could suggest that they profited from it in any way
Susie Labinjoh

On Thursday, after Lord Brennan's successful appeal, the cousins' solicitor said they were "extremely disappointed" by the Appeal Court's "palpably unfair" decision, and were considering appealing to the House of Lords.

Stigmatised as child killers, they had been subjected to appalling treatment in prison, Susie Labinjoh, of Hodge Jones & Allen, added. Their food had regularly been adulterated with phlegm and glass.

They had been "outraged" by the deductions, Ms Labinjoh said.

"They could not comprehend how anyone aware of the circumstances of their imprisonment could suggest that they profited from it in any way.

Previous criminality

"They felt that it added insult to injury."

The assessor also appealed against the breakdown of the compensation into general damages and the amount for aggravating features.

But this was dismissed by the Appeal Court judges.

They also dismissed the cousins' appeals against further deductions for previous criminality and a lack of consistency in the amount of their compensation with that of co-accused James Robinson - who had received a higher award from a different assessor, which Lord Brennan considered "wholly excessive".

Appeals dismissed

Patrick Molloy, the fourth man wrongly convicted of the killing following a 25-day trial at Stafford Crown Court, died in prison in June 1981, aged 53.

The same year, the Appeal Court refused the surviving defendants leave to appeal against their convictions.

In October 1987 their cases were referred to the Appeal Court.

But in March 1989 their appeals were dismissed.

Improperly obtained

In July 1996 the cases again returned to the Appeal Court.

And all four convictions were quashed in July 1997.

One of the grounds for quashing their convictions was that a confession had been improperly obtained from Molloy.

The surviving defendants then applied to the Home Office for compensation under the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

Carl Bridgewater, 13, was killed by a single shot from a shotgun, on his newspaper round at Yew Tree Farm, Wordsley, near Stourbridge, West Midlands.

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16 Apr 03  |  England
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16 Apr 03  |  Wales
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11 Mar 03  |  Wales
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11 Mar 03  |  England
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23 Dec 98  |  UK News

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