No Justice in life, no Justice in his grave
Ronnie Easterbrook 'Hostage of the State' 1988 - 10th May 2009
'Rights, justice, truth, due process, all are grist to the mill of our politicians and judiciary and all is ground to dust' ~ Ronnie Easterbrook, December 2001
Ronnie Easterbrook inquest - 'the government should apologise'
On 22 September the inquest into the death in prison of Ronnie Easterbrook took place. Ronnie died on 10 May 2009 in Gartree prison, the day before his 78th birthday, following a prolonged hunger strike, the last in a long series of protests over the 21 years he spent in prison. At the time of his death Ronnie weighed just 6st 3lb. The inquest jury found that he died from pneumonia brought on by his refusal to eat food, adding 'he took his own life as a result of deliberate self-starvation'. After the inquest Ronnie's nephew John Barden told the press he thought Ronnie should receive an apology from the government.
FRFI first came into contact with Ronnie in 1995 when he was in the segregation unit of HMP Whitemoor. Housed with Irish Republican prisoners protesting to demand repatriation to Ireland, Ronnie, who was then 64 and had already lost the use of one lung on a previous prison sentence, was on a dirty protest to draw attention to his wrongful conviction.
He had been arrested for participating in a failed armed robbery that was deliberately set up by a police informer. At his trial when his barrister would not agree to argue that the 'shoot-to-kill' policy being used by British forces in Ireland was now being used in England, Ronnie ended up defending himself. He became the only person in Britain not convicted of murder to be sentenced to a life sentence with no parole. Following an appeal his tariff (minimum term) was eventually reduced to 12_ years; however lifers can only be released once the Parole Board determines they are no longer dangerous. Ronnie was not interested in parole - only in a retrial at which the actions of the police could be re-examined.
Ronnie was supported by many prisoners who respected his uncompromising attitude. Outside prison he was supported by comrades from FRFI, Anarchist Black Cross and MOJUK. Together with a small group of loyal friends and relatives, we wrote letters of complaint to the Prison Service and demonstrated outside the Home Office. Many of us met up at Ronnie's funeral, where other family members and former prisoners, who had not seen him for many years, also paid their respects.
'Ronnie was an inspiration to everyone who knew him and I took comfort in knowing that he was one of the few staunch, loyal and wholly dependable guys one could ever meet in the system.' Charles Hanson, former prisoner.
'It is with great sadness that I learnt of Ronnie's death or is this murder? He was such a fighter and I had a lot of respect for him - he would never compromise his beliefs and because of that he suffered in jail. He was courageous and I sincerely hope he is now at peace.' Sue May, former wrongfully convicted prisoner.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
Story below is a travesty of one of the greatest fighters against the system. Ronnie did not starve himself to death, he had been refusing to eat prison food for a long number of years, in protest at his wrongful incarceration.
Kray Twins mediator, 77, refused to eat and starved himself to death in prison
This is Leicestershire, Thursday, September 23, 2010
An armed robber starved himself to death in prison during a protest against his conviction more than 20 years earlier, an inquest heard.
Ronnie Easterbrook, who acted as a mediator between the Kray twins, was just 6st 3lb when he died at Gartree Prison, near Market Harborough, following a six-month hunger strike.
The 77-year-old was jailed for life in 1988 for shooting a police officer during an armed robbery at a supermarket in Woolwich, south-east London.
At an inquest yesterday at Leicester Town Hall, a jury found Easterbrook died from pneumonia brought on by his refusal to eat food, adding "he took his own life as a result of deliberate self-starvation''.
Home Office pathologist Dr Amanda Jeffery told the hearing that Easterbrook, from London's East End, died on May 10 last year.
She said: "Mr Easterbrook felt he had been unjustly treated by the system and he was refusing food as a protest. He understood the consequences of not eating but he did not want life-sustaining measures."
The inquest heard Easterbrook, who had arrived at Gartree in 1988, was admitted to the prison medical centre in March last year and told staff not to resuscitate him.
It was his third hunger strike while at Gartree.
Katherine Wharton, a nurse at the prison, told the hearing: "He had obviously lost a significant amount of weight (by March 2009) but he could get himself out of bed and into a chair while his bedding was changed. He tired very easily and he spent almost all of his day resting in his bed.''
Easterbrook was caught by police after they received a tip-off about an armed robbery he was planning at a supermarket.
Flying Squad officers were lying in wait and arrested Easterbrook, but not before he had fired several shots, wounding a police inspector.
Easterbrook wanted to claim at his trial that Flying Squad marksmen operated a shoot-to-kill policy, saying one of his accomplices had surrendered but then been shot dead.
But his barrister refused to offer up this defence as it was not allowed at the time and when he was forced to represent himself, Easterbrook was again told he could not use the claim in court.
After being convicted of armed robbery and attempted murder, he was given a whole-life term.
But he refused to recognise his conviction and launched several legal challenges to the tariff.
As a result, the sentence was cut to 12-and-a-half years, allowing him to apply for parole in May 2000.
In 2003, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in Easterbrook's favour.
But he always refused to take part in the parole process, maintaining until his death that his conviction was unlawful.
Following the hearing, his sister-in-law's son John Barden said he should now receive an apology from the Government.
The 49-year-old from Kent, said: "I think he (Easterbrook) is still owed an apology because he was in the right. He never denied the crime but it was the way it was dealt with.
"He (Easterbrook) was old school. He was a gentleman. He didn't like being called a gangster - to him it was just what he was."