Eddie Hamptonwas released on parole in September 2005 and though no longer in prison is still fighting to prove his innocence.
Child abuse convictions 'flawed'
Until two years ago I, like most people who have not had any contact with the judicial system, believed this to be true.
Of course I was aware that sometimes mistakes were made and the wrong person could be convicted of a crime. But it was only two years ago when I found out the reality. That under our "best system in the world" justice a man or woman could be convicted not only of a crime that they didn't commit but of a crime that didn't even happen.
In 1999 my Father (then aged 79) was arrested by Merseyside Police as part of their investigation into allegations of child abuse in residential establishments (Operation C.A.R.E.). We have had to undergo two years of hell, knowing that the allegations against Dad were false but tormented by the fact that colleagues of his [who we truly believe to be innocent] had already been convicted Š if it happened to them then it could also happen to Dad! Thankfully on Monday 25th June 2001 at Liverpool Crown Court all the charges were stayed and my Father was pronounced "an innocent man". The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) had considered legal arguments put forward by the defence and decided not to offer any evidence.
During the last two years, through my involvement with F.A.C.T. (Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers) I have become convinced that there are many many people serving custodial sentences for crimes that never even occurred. Eddie HamptonÕs is one such story.
F.A.C.T. (Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers)
Eddie Hampton, HMP Whitemoor
I was married in 1971. My wife already had a daughter, Vanessa, who was born in 1968. 1 took Vanessa on as my own and as far as I am concerned, she is my daughter. My wife and I had a further 3 children, Tracey, born in 1972, Tyrone, born in 1974 and Vikki, born in 1975.
We had what I would call a normal family life. I was in the Armed Services at the time (Army) so the first couple of years were difficult because I was away a lot serving overseas. I came out of the Army in 1974 and from then on, everything was normal,.looking after the children, family holidays, working, all the normal family activities. However, in 1996, things were not as I would have liked for a variety of reasons. The marriage started to go downhill. At the time I was a manager of a small Security Company as well as being the night Mobile Patrol driver. During the course of my work I met a younger woman and the inevitable happened, we started having an affair.
By this time Vanessa had been married for about 7 years and had 4 children of her own. As would be expected, the grandchildren were everything to me. Anything their mother couldn't do for them, I did. I loved nothing better than babysitting and taking the children out. We even arranged our holidays so that we could take the grandchildren with us.
In April 1997, things came to a head and I decided to leave my wife and take this younger woman with me to the North of England, where I originally come from.
We left on the 18th April 1997. ******* phoned my Brother's home, where we were staying, on several occasions. My Brother took most of the calls. In one particular call, she told him that if I didn't return home, both her and ******* were going to the Police and accuse me of sexual abuse when they were children. She apparently sounded calm and in control. I didn't thing for one minute she meant what she said, it was just her way of forcing me to return home. Ironically, I had always told my children what I would like to do to rapists or any sex offender, so they knew how much I detested abuse of any kind, and now they were accusing me of that very thing.
Ignoring the ultimatum was my undoing. I was arrested and charged with 9 sex related offences including Rape and Buggery dating back to 1981. In effect, they waited nearly 17 years to make any allegations, making it obviously too late to acquire any medical or forensic evidence to substantiate the allegations. It seems strange that I apparently decided in 1980 to start abusing my children and suddenly stop in 1988. It is my belief that a paedophile does not suddenly decide to take 8 years out of his life and start to abuse children. He does not pick and choose his victims, (you will note I had 3 daughters, so why just abuse 2 of them?).
I was remanded in custody by the Magistrates Court, however I was granted bail by a Crown Court Judge 11 days later and remanded to a Bail Hostel with a condition that I do not enter Essex except for Court appearances or to see my Solicitor. While in the Bail Hostel, I was twice arrested for Breach of Bail. My *********** had stated that I had been seen in Essex without good reason. The Rules of the Hostel state that I had to inform the staff every time I left. In fact we had to "Book in and out". At the times I was supposed to have been in Essex, I was in fact in the Hostel with at least 10 witnesses. I appeared in court and was found Not Guilty.
My case came to trial on 20th January 1998 and to say it was a farce would be an understatement. I saw first hand how a Jury could be manipulated and swayed by appearances in Court. Not knowing what sort of person ********* was, the Jury couldn't have been aware of the fact that the performance she gave would have deserved an Oscar, the crying, sips of water, the whole bit. I had been her father for ** years and the ********* I saw in the witness box wasn't the ********* I knew. By contrast, my evidence was given in a much calmer manner. All I could do in my defence was to deny f hat any of the offences had ever taken place. In my defence, I had my ***, ***** give evidence to refute the prosecution case, all to no avail. I was convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
This being my first experience with the judicial system, I had faith in British Justice and was convinced that Justice would prevail and I would be exonerated, so I put myself entirely in the hands of my legal advisers. In hindsight, I think that was another mistake on my part, my Barrister seemed to just "go through the motions". I could have done a better job myself.
I find it incredible to believe that for a crime that is, in my eyes, the most serious next to murder, that crime being rape, no physical or forensic evidence is required. In my case, it is not only the prison sentence I have to bear, when my sentence is complete I must register as a sex offender for the rest of my life, I am not allowed to have any contact with anyone under 18 and that includes my grandchildren, I can't live near parks or schools or be seen anywhere where children under 18 are likely to be. This to me is a life sentence, bear ing in mind that there is no proof that a crime was ever committed.
There are a number of aspects of my trial which are, to say the least, questionable:
The fact that the alleged offences were committed nearly 17 years before being reported. I had no way of knowing what I was doing or where I was at the time, I could well have had alibis. Therefore I couldn't mount an adequate defence; consequently, I couldn't have a fair trial.
The Judge can advise the Jury as to what weight to put on someone's evidence if that witness meets 3 certain criteria, those being, (a). the witness is known to be dishonest, (b), the witness has lied, (c). the witness has a grudge against the defendant. ********* meets all 3 criteria. She has a record for Fraud and Deception, she lied in Court and she had a grudge against me because I left the family. The Judge did not give such a warning to the Jury.
There were provable inconsistencies to ********* evidence in court, available in the trial transcripts. When asked by Defence Counsel whether there were ever any witnesses to any acts of abuse, her reply was that there was not, when asked again she said that her mother was there once, sitting on the bed. Defence Counsel then reminded her that this piece of evidence was not in her original statement, to which she replied that she had asked the policewoman not to put it into her statement in case her mother got into trouble.
The policewoman was re-called and asked to explain and she said that the conversation never took place, which proves someone is lying.
It would seem, with the present climate of sex offences being such a high profile issue, the police feel that in order to appease the general public, they are forced to get convictions regardless of innocence or guilt. The system is assisting the police in this venture by deeming it not necessary to have medical or forensic evidence in order to bring a prosecution. Put simply, this means that any woman can have any man plucked off the street and branded a serious sex offender on their word only. When you incorporate the compensation issue, that is quite an incentive, revenge and financial gain.
I have been through all the appeal process and now want to try again to get someone to listen to me for a change. It seems that once the trial is over and the defendant is locked away, everyone forgets about it, no one wants to know. They all say without new evidence there is nothing they can do. If someone was to look at my case again they will find, as I have done, that there are several aspects to this that seem hardly credible.
From a broad viewpoint, looking at my situation, I have been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for leaving my wife, which isn't a crime. By all means protect women from abusers but there should also be a process, which protects men from scorned women.
Cuts have been made for legal reasons. Original copies can be obtained from me if you contact me direct.