Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Tony Poole given little support after release for wrongful murder conviction, it is claimed

Tony Poole was given little support after his release from prison and the miscarriage of justice that saw him wrongly convicted of murder almost 25 years ago, it has been claimed.

Poole was found guilty of murder alongside his friend Gary Mills, but were both released in June, 2003 after a lengthy appeal campaign.

In his years as a free man, his life spiralled out of control as he became more dependent on drugs. Poole found himself back in trouble with the law in January 2014.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder after an argument over drugs at a flat in Nettleton Road saw one man stabbed and another fatally wounded.

Poole will be sentenced on January 9 after a jury found him not guilty of murder, but guilty of the manslaughter of Martin Stokes.

Russ Spring, who works for Birmingham University, led the campaign for his release following his first wrongful conviction and got to know Tony well.

"I have known Tony since his first conviction in the early 1990s. I would travel regularly to Gloucester to meet with his family.

"When he was released I continued to try and support him as best I could. I knew it was just the beginning of things for him, rather than just the end like many people thought.

"There was regular contact between us up until the last year. Then he got more involved with the harder drugs and he stopped engaging.

"I didn’t know Tony and Gary before they were convicted. From what I understand he certainly wasn’t considered a dangerous man before he went into prison. "When I first met him, he was a strip of wind. The first thing he did when he went to prison was hit the gym as he knew he had to be able to defend himself."

He said the image of him terrorising Gloucester really wasn’t true. He added: "You never hear fully about what has gone on in prison. That is partly down to the machismo that exists in prison, and existed with Tony before he went into prison.

"There is a degree of him not wanting to disclosure some of the things that went on, I’m sure they were pretty degrading and things he would want to forget.

"Tony was kept in the same prison as Gary Mills as they were working together on their appeal. They were moved around prisons, but kept together. "When they took their appeal to the House of Lords, they were then split up."

Russ said it was during that period that Tony began using heroin.

"Up until then he would just take cannabis and speed. His usage of heroin in prison was not recreational, it was about numbing himself, a sort of medication," he said.

"Whilst he was inside, one of his cousins who he was close to died. There was a lack of appreciation just how damaged Tony was when he was released from prison.

"There is no emotional development in prison. People go in as boys and can spend 20 years inside and still come out as boys.

"They have had no social interaction in prison and many will not mature normally as adults. Many people end up with drink and drugs problems, re-offend or have suicidal thoughts.

"The list of people who have not gone down one of those routes is a lot smaller. I’ve since written to Tony on a couple of occasions but had no reply.

"I understand he is quite happy to see me, but I don’t know what has happened.

"When Gary came out of prison he suffered from acute paranoia, but he had his family around him."

But Russ said with Tony it was different. "He was brought up by his grandparents, but his grandmother had died and his granddad had senile dementia", he said.

"Tony had started a relationship with a woman and she also died. He had to deal with a series of bereavements, and he had developed a taste for hard drugs in prison.

"Like so many people who are badly damaged, they need help to access help.

"You can’t deal with Tony’s drug problem, until you have dealt with the mental problems he has suffered as a result of post traumatic stress.

"It has had a huge cost on the tax payer for not offering the correct treatment in the first place and another man is dead."

Original report here

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