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Why An Innocent Man Pleaded Guilty

Matt

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For anyone who hasn't seen this floating around the various groups, my explanation of how as an innocent man I came to plead guilty to a crime I had not committed.

Why an innocent man pleaded guilty
This has been a topic of debate on the group recently, so I wanted to put forward a part of my story. Please excuse me if this deteriorates paragraph by paragraph, I suspect emotion may overwhelm me.

It was three in the morning and I was pacing the cell again, the TV playing weakly in the background, muffled by my frantic thoughts muttered aloud. "Are you okay?" came the nurse's voice from the hatch, her concern was palpable. I'd been pacing in circles for hours, changing direction every so often so as to ease the dizziness. Thinking aloud, I analysed the evidence over and over. My soliloquy interrupted only by dark thoughts of the relationship I'd lost - black wolves lunging, their fangs dripping with a lust for tears.

That morning, the fated clink of the door finally arrived, and with rusting eyes I warily made my way to my legal visit. I greeted the barrister with a firm shake of the hand, and with my notebook and pen at the ready, we set to work.

"Did you prevent her from leaving the house?" the barrister asked. "No!" I replied, "She----". I was interrupted as a faded photograph of a text message was pushed in front of me. "That was----"

"Look! She's either crazy, or you're guilty? So which is it?"
the solicitor angrily interrupted. I barely caught a breath. "Can you call any witnesses at all?" he added, scowling.

"My parents, two police officers, a former partner and close friend...." He scoffed. "Of course your parents will stick up for you, and who do you really think the police officers will support you?!".

"If you plead not guilty, you'll get 10 years and the judge will add on another 5 years for making her testify in court. If you plead guilty we'll make a plea deal and push for a suspended sentence. You've got a shit defence, but if you take it to trial I make more money... It's your 'choice' ".

15 years. Are you a parent? Imagine being told you would miss the first 15 years of your newborn child's life. No contact, no visits, no pictures, no letters. I began to sob as the solicitor made a joke to the barrister about his wife accusing him of a domestic. "I'll make the plea deal" the solicitor said. Crushed, I didn't respond. Back at the cell, I tore my notes to shreds. Every last f--king page. I slammed my cell door shut, pulled the scraggy blanket up over my head and gave up.

The black wolves returned and haunted me, I kept replaying the conversation. The words echoing like a broken announcement - the last train home has been cancelled, forever. I felt too sick to eat, too weak to rise except for nature's rare calling. I had picture of my baby girl that had kept me going all these weeks, that I had talked to every hour, kissed goodnight every day, and vowed to never give up on. I turned it over - I couldn't bare to look at the smiling face of the little girl who I had failed so badly.

The day of the plea hearing came and I was told to sign the blank paper so they could sort out some documents later. Little did I know I'd just admitted everything the prosecution had said without question. Your first thought may be "f--king stupid" - the solicitor used those words a lot with me too. When I asked him to apply for bail and he refused, or questioned the length of the sentence for example.

They stared at me and nodded in court, that was my cue to say "guilty". Did I really have a choice? I'd have done anything for my little girl.

Some people falsely confess because they're delusional, some confess to grant relief from torture. I confessed because I was told I'd never see my daughter again if I didn't. I gave up my innocence for her.
 

franticwithworry

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Few of us would fail succumb under that kind of pressure, Matt. Anyone who insists that false confessions don't happen is living in a vacuum. You haven't failed your little girl. All that and everything in your future is you fighting for her. ((((hugs))))
 

Alcoholiday

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To be honest, I thought anybody who pleaded guilty were mad. There was nothing and nobody who could make me plead guilty to something so horrendous that I had clearly not done. However Matt, your post puts a completely different perspective on it. I got goosebumps reading that and you made it so clear why some people do in fact plead guilty to something they haven't done. Good post.
 

Patrick

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When Matt and I interviewed Ann Widdecombe for our film - she was good on many things but she was adamant that no sane person would ever plead guilty to something they haven't done...

No one - including ex prison ministers - who hasn't experienced the pressures of being isolated, locked up with no explanation - then after softening up, interrogated, and generally treated as a guilty piece of dirt by heavyweight authority - can understand quite how this happens.
 

franticwithworry

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The trouble is, when all that happened to Matt has happened, one is not quite sane.

Ann Widdecombe’s may be great on some things but she is still a typical MP - very self-opinionated and totally lacking in empathy. Fortunately there are a few not like that but not nearly enough.
 

Matt

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Few of us would fail succumb under that kind of pressure, Matt. Anyone who insists that false confessions don't happen is living in a vacuum. You haven't failed your little girl. All that and everything in your future is you fighting for her. ((((hugs))))
Thank you Frantic :) I'm desperately fighting for her behind the scenes. But my biggest fear is that she grows up without me, troubled and carrying all of that anguish finds her mother first, who poisons her against me without her having the chance to hear my side. I'm making a note of myself to PM you tomorrow at a more sociable time, wondering how things are going with the case, hope there is some progress and light at the end of the tunnel <3

To be honest, I thought anybody who pleaded guilty were mad. There was nothing and nobody who could make me plead guilty to something so horrendous that I had clearly not done. However Matt, your post puts a completely different perspective on it. I got goosebumps reading that and you made it so clear why some people do in fact plead guilty to something they haven't done. Good post.
Thank you Alcoholiday, that really means the world to me :) As Patrick said, as educated and sympathetic to the falsely accused as Ann Widdecombe was, she likewise couldn't grasp why anyone who is innocent would wrongfully plead guilty. So to hear that you found a different perspective after reading my post is a big boost for me. It can be so painful to drag up the memories and write about our personal experiences, but when I read comments like this one it makes it all feel worthwhile. Thank you again!
 
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