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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Innocent man spared prison bill
Michael O'Brien
Michael O'Brien was jailed for 11 years
A man wrongly jailed for murder for 11 years is to be refunded money taken from him to pay for his bed and board while in jail, the High Court has ruled.

One of the so-called Cardiff newsagent three, Michael O'Brien had been deducted 37,000 from a compensation payout of 650,000, which he received three years after being cleared in 1999.

The 36-year-old had been convicted of the 1987 murder of Cardiff newsagent Philip Saunders.

But on Wednesday, Mr O'Brien - along with two other men who had been imprisoned for 18 years for murdering a paperboy in Birmingham - won a test case in the High Court.

Mr Justice Maurice Kay ruled that a Home Office decision to discount "saved living expenses" in compensation payments had been mistakenly applied.

Verdicts quashed

Mr O'Brien had been "absolutely livid" when he found out money had been deducted.

"They don't charge guilty people for bed and board, they only charge innocent people," he said.

Vincent and Michael Hickey
Vincent and Michael Hickey spent 18 years in prison

Mr O'Brien said he had felt the Home Office was "re-asserting his guilt" with its decision to charge him for the time he spent in jail.

But speaking after the result of the High Court hearing, he said: "I'm absolutely delighted, because it sets a precedent for other victims of miscarriages of justice.

"I was angry when I got the bed and board bill because it makes a mockery of the criminal justice system.

"I'm now going to get a proper compensation package which is going to help with my future."

Vincent Hickey, 48, and his cousin Michael, 41, were the other men involved in the test case.

The pair, both from Birmingham, had been found guilty of murdering 13-year-old Carl Bridgewater in 1979.

Their convictions were overturned in July 1997, but they were each billed 60,000 to cover living expenses during their prison terms.

Court battle over jail costs
11 Mar 03  |  Wales
Bridgewater Two 'jail rent' appeal
11 Mar 03  |  England

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