In this section, you will find some examples of convicted prisoners who maintain their innocence. We hope that their stories will help you to understand something of the many problems that such people can face.
Case of David Ferguson
David was convicted of the brutal murder of Susan Kent in November 1999 and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years. He pleaded not guilty and has continued to protest his innocence ever since. It is now clear that the prosecution withheld important evidence from the defence and that the expert IT witness had already been persuaded of David’s guilt before he investigated the computer evidence.
During his sentence, David has been a model prisoner. He was commended for one particular incident when he came to the aid of a female prison officer who was being attacked by other inmates. Yet because he continues to maintain his innocence, his chances of release or even re-categorisation seem frustratingly remote.
David remains an ‘A’ cat prisoner after being confined for 20 years.
Case of Mark Alexander.
Mark was wrongly convicted of murder in 2010 and received a mandatory life sentence. He has always maintained his unqualified innocence and both sides of his family are calling for his exoneration. Mark touches the lives of everyone he meets and his family just want him home. Having spent almost a decade in prison for a crime he did not commit, each day he is forced to wait for justice is another day wasted. A charge bargain would have freed him many years ago on manslaughter, but Mark won’t settle for anything less than the truth.
Mark writes, “Given that my ‘risk’ levels are so low, why is the open prison estate arbitrarily restricted to the last 3 years of a sentence?… ROTLS (Release On Temporary Licence) would not only enable me to demonstrate in practical terms that I am not a ‘risk’ to anyone, but would alleviate some of the injustice of being wrongly imprisoned by helping me reconnect with the world. There is no reason why I ‘need’ to be in closed conditions. In addition, there is no longer any sentence review for prisoners convicted after 2003 who make ‘exceptional progress.”
For more on Mark’s story, and to get involved, please see: http://freemarkalexander.org
Case of Derek Patterson, HMP Frankland.
In 2005, Derek Patterson was convicted of Attempted Murder. He received a 6 year 56 day tariff on a discretionary life sentence.
He is currently in his 16th year of incarceration, still maintaining his innocence, and 10 years over tariff.
He has no record of violent crime.
The only prosecution evidence was the word of another. There was no forensic or DNA evidence to support the conviction. Both forensic and DNA evidence rule him out of the crime. The alleged assault weapon was also ruled out. Experts on both sides agreed the knife the defendant was supposed to have used was not the knife that cut the clothing or injured the victims.
One of the victims even stated Derek was not responsible.
Lincolnshire Police falsely claimed that Derek had admitted the crime when he had not. There is much on record to show the crime scene was not thoroughly investigated, rendering evidence inconclusive.
While on remand and during the trial process Derek was given the opportunity to be transferred to Broadmoor for assessment to see if he could be provoked into violent action after consuming alcohol or in a sleep-walking disorder. This was voluntary in the interests of truth, and at the suggestion of the Judge, who was trying to be helpful. He was there for three nights. On one night after being ordered to drink an excessive amount of vodka he was provoked by electric shock treatment to see if he would react violently. The Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director reported as follows
‘ Based on all the data I have examined and in addition on neurological testing including an EEG and 3 nights of overnight sleep studies, including one night that was provoked with alcohol, it is my opinion that Mr Derek Patterson does not have a diagnosis of sleep walking disorder and the description of the event on the night (of the assault) does not fulfil the criteria for an automatism’.
Disastrously, the report was not helpful in court, as the prosecution played on the fact that Derek had ‘spent time’ in Broadmoor and all the implications that could be drawn from this.
Derek’s case went to the CCRC. They closed the file and refused to take the case further, saying they were asked to do work that should have been done before trial / appeal, but of course this was not possible because information was not available.
Appeal against conviction and sentence in 2012: At the Three Judge Appeal stage the judges agreed that forensic and DNA supported the appellant, but the appeal was refused because ‘it would be unfair to bring complainants back to court along with experts’ to return to a case 7 years old. It is likely that the experts would not need to come back to court, as their reports are still available and the 3 judges agreed with them.
Derek had not given up hope, and in 2016 he managed to attract the attention of Bob Woffinden, an investigative journalist specialising in miscarriages of justice, who stated in correspondence ‘I do think it is inconceivable that you could have carried out this attack’. Also ‘stay feisty but keep calm! You can win this’, and ‘I do believe that your case is a compelling one’. Sadly, Mr Woffinden was ill with cancer, and died before he could take Derek’s case up with the authorities.
The Leicester Law School Miscarriages of Justice Project is currently looking at Derek’s case.
Nigel and Denzil Ramsey
Convicted using the controversial doctrine of joint enterprise, the Ramsey brothers (aged 23 and 20) were sentenced to 33 years and 25 years for a shooting in Sheffield in 2009. Nigel was in prison at the time of the shooting: a phone call to his brother was the only evidence of his involvement. Both brothers are in a category A (high security) prison and maintaining their innocence.
Convicted of murder in Liverpool in December 1981, Ray was given a 15 year tariff but served 36 years in prison. He was finally released in 2017. He attributes the many years in prison after his tariff (minimum term) had ended to the fact that he maintained his innocence throughout. If he had pretended to be guilty he could have been released many years earlier.
Convicted in 2007 for sex crimes along with arson on his own home, he was diagnosed with cancer in March 2009. Having received no respite care, he was taken to hospital in December 2009, where he died the following day in the presence of his family. He maintained his innocence throughout.
Convicted in 2005 for the murder of her husband, Lizzie was sentenced to 30 years at the age of 42. She has 4 children. Lizzie has set up a support network for prisoners maintaining innocence within prison and believes “Where there is innocence, there is hope.”