This is the fourth and last article in the series written by Jeremy to mark the anniversary of 26 years wrongly convicted and 27 years wrongly imprisoned.
“My hopes for the future have evolved considerably during my time in prison simply because I never thought I would stay in jail. But I can’t help thinking about all the things I might do when I am free. I used to think I would like to travel a lot or have a farm somewhere like Australia or New Zealand. The many friends I have had over the years have often led me to think about doing things I’d never thought about before like skiing or surfboarding. I’ve thought about having a little Chateau in France with a vineyard or spending time by the sea. The nearest I have been to the beach recently was when I called a friend on a mobile phone and I could hear waves of the sea lapping on the beach where he was, it stirred up happy memories.
Now I just think about living an ordinary, uncomplicated life with simple pleasures and enjoying the company of good friends. I want to visit the supermarket and choose from an abundance of foods, walk freely about this beautiful country and picnic in the sunset on a summer’s day. I want the the freedom of choice to go to live music concerts, football matches, the theatre, cycling or just staying in, cooking a nice meal and lounging on the sofa with a glass of wine and listening to music.
Other prisoners have visits from their family and while I have lots of friends, the thing I miss the most is my family. Losing them has been more difficult to bear than 27 years of wrongful imprisonment. Our families are always there for us no matter what, they transcend time that friends or lovers lose when they might come and go but family is permanent and consistent. Many miscarriage of justice cases have family to fight for them, support and love them. I will keep fighting to prove my innocence and clear the name of my family which was portrayed as "dysfunctional" simply by the stigma of Sheila’s mental illness.
When I think about what life might have been like had I not lost my family so tragically and come to jail, I imagine my parents growing older and when I speak to friends whose parents are becoming ill and infirm with age, some living into their late eighties and nineties, I feel cheated that I’ve not had all of those years to share and all that time to care. I never got to see my Dad retire or my Mum continue with her work for the WI and Church. I often wonder what it would have been like for my parents to see Sheila’s boys grow up and have children themselves; there would have been another joy for them being great-grandparents as many older people are today. I wonder what my parents would have made of modern farming. I often think of how things might have been for Sheila if her mental health had been managed properly and we had known how to support her, she could have gone on to marry again if her condition was improved.
I think about what might have become of my own life, one can only guess but I know I would have continued with farming which has always been my passion, and I feel sad that modern farming continues to struggle through financial troubles. I worry that wildlife in the countryside is on the decline owing to modern pesticides brought about by new ways of farming. I often wonder if I would have done more travelling before settling down I certainly felt I would like to return to Australia. I consider the things that might have been and the things that will be. I have been denied my own family life, a partner and fatherhood. I didn’t imagine being single at 51 of course but in the future I feel a sense of excitement and exploration. It will be strange to start with but I will embrace and enjoy every moment of my liberty. I want to ramble through the countryside and return to farming in a small way. I want someone to share my life with and all of the simple things, perhaps a country dweller, someone who is in tune with the seasons. I want to do all of the caring and loving that the condition of imprisonment denies me.”
I just want to be free.