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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Bridgewater two win court battle
Vincent, left, and Michael Hickey on the day their convictions were overturned
Vincent and Michael Hickey spent 18 years in prison
Two men, who spent 18 years in prison for the murder of paperboy Carl Bridgewater, before having their convictions quashed, have won their High Court battle over being billed for "board and lodging" whilst in jail.

Cousins Vincent and Michael Hickey were told 25% of the compensation they received for their years behind bars would be taken off them to pay for their years of "saved living expenses".

Their lawyers said the decision effectively charged them 60,000 each for prison board and lodging.

But in what is believed to be the first case of its kind, lawyers for the Hickeys argued successfully that the independent assessor appointed by the home secretary had unlawfully denied them their full compensation amount.

Shot dead

Mr Justice Maurice Kay, sitting in London, said a decision to discount for saved living expenses whilst in jail was the result of a misdirection as to the common law and must be overturned.

Susie Labinjoh, of Hodge Jones & Allen, Solicitors for the Hickeys, said the ruling on prison "board and lodging" was just one aspect of an important case which provided important new guidelines for assessing compensation in future similar cases.

But she added it was the "absurd idea" that the Hickeys should pay for the ordeal and suffering of being detained in prison which had caused them so much "strength of feeling".

"There can be no logical or moral justification for the absurd idea that they should have to pay when their food was regularly being adulterated with phlegm and glass," she said.

"Overall the case is obviously a very important victory for them."

One setback for the Hickeys in the ruling was the judge's decision that they were not entitled to similar treatment to their co-accused James Robinson who had received a higher award from a different assessor, and which Lord Brennan considered "wholly excessive".

An appeal is now being considered over that issue.

Similar appeal

The Hickeys and Robinson were jailed for life in 1979 with another man for the murder of 13-year-old Carl, who was shot dead at Yew Tree Farm, Wordsley, near Stourbridge in the West Midlands.

Their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in July 1997.

The case is considered to be one of the worst miscarriages of justice in English legal history.

A third man, Michael O'Brien, who spent 11 years in jail before being cleared on appeal of the 1987 murder of Cardiff newsagent Philip Saunders, also won a similar appeal.

Mr O'Brien, from Cardiff, South Glamorgan, said he was "absolutely livid" when his final award of 647,900 was reduced by 37,000 because of the money he saved in living expenses while in prison.

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16 Apr 03  |  England
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