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30 Years After The Guildford Four's Release, Our Legal System Is Still Just As Dangerous For The Vulnerable

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Thirty years ago, I stood cheering outside the Old Bailey as Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four walked free from court.

It felt like a Hollywood moment. Minutes earlier, the four had been cleared of their wrongful conviction for the Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings. After 15 years, justice had finally been done.

Flanked by his triumphant sisters, Gerry punched the air, his head held high, his wide eyes steely with the pulse of vindication and his shoulder-length hair flowing in the autumn breeze. He then delivered a perfect statement to the media while us campaigners cried with joy and disbelief.

To this day, exonerated prisoners do not receive the assistance they need to acclimatise and return to normal life after they are released.

I was 16 years old, and it was the best day of my life. I hoped it was the best day in Gerry’s life, too – or at least the start of a happier existence for him.

Sadly, the Hollywood moment only cast him into a new horror film.

Besieged by demons from his brutal interrogation and years in prison, and tossed aside by the same system that had previously flung him into jail, Gerry struggled. Big time.

He felt enormous guilt over the fate of his father, who had travelled to London from Belfast to help his son mount a legal defence, only to be wrongly arrested himself and die in jail.

At one stage, Gerry blew £120,000 in just six weeks, most of it on crack cocaine. He took drugs to stay awake, because when he fell asleep the nightmares would begin........

© HuffPost