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'Prison is hell even if you're guilty': Man wrongly jailed for rape tells LBC of 17-year ordeal behind bars
27 July 2023, 18:28 | Updated: 27 July 2023, 20:24
An innocent man who spent 17 years in jail for a rape he did not commit described his experience inside prison as "worse than hell", telling LBC he has been "tortured".
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Andrew Malkinson, 57, was falsely found guilty of raping a woman in Greater Manchester in 2003 and was jailed for life with a minimum term of seven years.
On Wednesday, his conviction was overturned after another man was linked to the crime by DNA.
Speaking to LBC's Tom Swarbrick, Mr Malkinson dispelled the "myth" that everyone inside jail thinks they're innocent.
But regardless of whether one is guilty or innocent, Mr Malkinson described his experience inside jail as "worse than hell".
"One guy said to me 'you must be really suffering because this is hell even if you’re guilty…it’s not true that everyone says they’re innocent," he said.
“It did pretty much consume me almost all of my waking, conscious life," Mr Malkinson said.
"No person should ever go to prison for one day but for years and years on end is utter psychological torture" he added.
Watch the interview with Andrew Malkinson in full
Tom Swarbrick speaks to Andrew Malkinson after his rape conviction was quashed after 20-year fight
Speaking to LBC about how he came to terms with his false imprisonment, he said he "could not believe" what was happening.
"How do you process something like that? You’ve done absolutely nothing at all and there’s three people claiming they saw you at a critical time in a critical place, including the victim.
"It feels totally unreal."
As for his first night in prison, Mr Malkinson said it was so "traumatic" he does not know how he got through it.
"Don’t know…it was such a traumatic event when they found me guilty, falsely found me guilty of something like that. How do you process it?
"How could any human being process that, you know, knowing that you’re going to go to prison, possibly until you die here. It’s extreme shock, psychological shock. I don’t know how better to describe it.”
'Fish out of water'
He continued: "I was a fish out of water for the entire period and it was a very, very slow, painful process of coming to grips with prison life, in maximum security conditions of course and you slowly have to learn your own way of coping with it.
"Mine was to be determined to fight because I knew it was completely false so my first commitment to myself was to spend however long I've got left on this planet to prove this and I knew it was a big, big mountain to climb."
One way Mr Malkinson said he coped with being falsely imprisoned was by reading, particularly books on astronomy and science.
"I read until my eyes were falling out of my head. Reading was a big help," he told LBC.
Mr Malkinson also described the loneliness of fighting for your innocence when so many people - including other inmates, the police, and the media - thought he was guilty.
As for his family, he said they knew he was innocent all along.
"The idea that I could do that, they just wouldn’t accept it," he said.
'A black hole filled with misery'
Asked if he could take anything away from his 17 year stretch in prison, Mr Malkinson said he could not, describing it as "a black hole filled with utter misery, pain, anxiety and suffering".
"Like I said, no innocent person should ever spend one day in prison and there are more innocent people in prison," he told LBC.
As for how bad his suffering got, Mr Malkinson continued: "It got very bad. I contemplated with killing myself several times, a number of times.
"But I didn’t want to die in prison and I didn’t want people to think ‘oh, he couldn’t live with himself, he must be guilty’. So I determined to live and go through it all."
Tom Swarbrick speaks to man wrongly convicted for 17 years
After he was jailed for life with a minimum term of seven years, Mr Malkinson stayed in prison for another 10 years as he maintained his innocence, insisting he would "not falsely confess to abhorrent crimes which he did not commit", his barrister Edward Henry KC said.
His conviction was overturned on Wednesday after another man was linked to the crime by DNA.
But adding insult to injury, Mr Malkinson fears he may lose some of the compensation he could receive.
"It's sickening, it's vile," he told LBC. "It's got a feeling of sour grapes."
"What's the point in punishing a proven innocent man? Charging them for their own psychological torture, that's unspeakable."
Malkinson was sentenced for two counts of rape and one of choking or strangling with intent to commit rape.
His convictions were overturned by three judges. Lord Justice Holroyde said he was "free and no longer... subject to the conditions of licence".
Speaking after, Malkinson told the victim: "I am so sorry that you were attacked and brutalised that night by that man. I am not the person who attacked you but what happened to me is not your fault."
He said: "I am not a liar. I am not in denial but I will tell you who is - Greater Manchester Police are liars, and they are in denial.
"Even after this judgment today, I predict we will see them denying responsibility for what happened. We will see them stretching credulity with their excuse-making.
"Greater Manchester Police have been scrambling to cover up how they wrongfully convicted me for 20 years."
His mother, Tricia Hose, said: "Now Andy's name has been cleared, suddenly in the public eye, I am no longer a deluded mother. My son is no longer a monster."
Mr Malkinson was prosecuted based only on eyewitness testimony - there was no DNA evidence linking him to the crime.
Greater Manchester Police apologised after the conviction was overturned, saying: "We are truly sorry to Mr Malkinson that he is the victim of such a grave miscarriage of justice in being convicted of a crime he did not commit and serving a 17-year custodial sentence.
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Jackson said: "Whilst we hope this outcome gives him a long overdue sense of justice, we acknowledge that it does not return the years he has lost. I have offered to meet with him to personally deliver this apology."
But Malkinson said the apology was meaningless.
"An apology without accountability, what is that?" he asked. "It's nothing, it's nothing, it means nothing."
Malkinson's case was referred to the Court of Appeal in January by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) after fresh DNA evidence emerged identifying another suspect.
The suspect, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been arrested.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) did not contest Mr Malkinson's appeal.
His case could have "wider implications" for the criminal justice system, his lawyers told the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
Ch Con Jackson said: "We are also profoundly sorry to the victim of this crime, who not only suffered an horrific trauma 20 years ago, but also relived the experience during a criminal trial, and now may endure additional harm caused by learning that the true offender has not yet been brought to justice.
"We are absolutely committed to following all new lines of enquiry to ensure the right person is held accountable for harming her."
Mr Malkinson previously applied twice for his case to be reviewed by the CCRC but was turned down, eventually being released from prison in December 2020.
After his release, advancements in scientific techniques allowed his legal team, supported by legal charity Appeal, to provide new DNA analysis that cast doubt on his conviction to the CCRC.
The body then commissioned its own testing which found that DNA from the victim's clothing matched another man on the national police database.
GMP confirmed in January that a man had been arrested and released under investigation in light of the new information, but no decision has been made as to whether he will be charged.