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Big Wullie

Tragic Miscarriage Of Justice Death

A man found dead in his Merseyside home was a child abuse victim who later spent 17 years in jail after being wrongly convicted of robbery – and was just “weeks away” from a six-figure  police compensation pay-out.

Tragic Gary Ford, 54, was one of two men killed through suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at a bungalow in Kennet Road,  Bebington, in the early hours of Monday.

The dad-of-two was set for a massive damages claim which would have transformed a life blighted by hardship.

He had wrongly spent 17 years behind bars after it emerged that police had gathered corrupt  evidence through an informant who had been given underhand sweeteners.

‘Supergrass’ Karl Chapman was given free access to drink, drugs and sex to induce him to give evidence by West Yorkshire Police.

The prosecution against Mr Ford, who was originally from Leeds, was later found to be corrupted because the inducements were concealed from the courts.

Ford had the majority of his convictions for robbery and burglary quashed as a result.

He had been living at the address in Bebington for two years with the help of Merseyside charity the Lantern Project, which supports the victims of child abuse.

Charity boss Graham Wilmer said the deaths appeared to be a “tragic accident”.

Mr Wilmer said he was helping him with his civil case against West Yorkshire Police as well as in writing a book about his prison sentence and the abuse he suffered at a Catholic care home in East Yorkshire.

He said: “This is the sort of thing that is really hard to get your head round; why now after everything he has survived? He was getting his life back on track.

“All the police are saying to us at the moment is that it looks like carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas appliance.

“The compensation was ready to be settled withing the next few weeks. That’s how close he was to completely transforming his life.

“For this to happen is unbelievably tragic. It seems so unfair.”

Mr Ford was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 1996 for a string of bogus official burglaries and robberies. He was convicted largely on the tainted evidence of Chapman, who was his accomplice, and in 2009 his sentence was reduced to 11 years.

He spent 15 years behind bars when, taking the early release scheme into account, he would otherwise have spent seven years inside.

Mr Wilmer said Mr Ford’s claim against West Yorkshire Police for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office was for £250,000, and he expected his estate would still get a “six-figure settlement” as civil claims can continue after death.

Mr Ford has two grown-up children living in Leeds, as well as a brother and two sisters nearby.

The 47-year-old man found dead at his home, named by police as Dennis Cheatham, is thought to be his friend and carer.

Susie Labinjoh, of Hodge Jones & Allen, which represented Mr Ford in his claim against the police, said she was “saddened” to hear of the death, adding: “Our condolences go out to his family.”

West Yorkshire Police gave money to Chapman which he used to buy heroin and falsely recorded an “escape” from custody when he had actually been allowed his freedom – which he used to visit a policewoman with whom he was having a relationship.

A second man, Danny Mansell, who was accused of murdering 85 year old Joe Smales in Wakefield in 1996, had his conviction quashed because of the tainted Chapman evidence.

A Supreme Court judgement said to describe the force’s misconduct as “shocking and disgraceful is to understate the gravity of its impact on the prosecution process”.
Big Wullie

The prosecution against Mr Ford, who was originally from Leeds, was later found to be corrupted because the inducements were concealed from the courts.

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Sincere thanks to all those who have supported Shirley and challenged miscarriages of justice on this forum.