Sunday, 22nd December, 2002
The World Is Now A Lonelier Place
Those of you with an interest in history will have heard of Boadicea, the woman warrior, Joan of Arc the staunch French woman patriot who was burned at the stake but was later canonised, and, of course, the wonderfully caring Mother Therese and Princess Diane.
My sister Eva was, to me, all these four women rolled into one.
Sadly, last week Eva died. In typical Eva fashion she knew her time had come and refused to allow a doctor to be called. She did not want to die in a strange bed. During the night she passed away.
I have been fortunate to be blessed with the love and understanding of three very good women in my life: my mother, Eva and my wife Doreen. It is likely that there is a fourth. If that is being greedy then I don't apologise but, instead, will only say thank you.
I could write a book, maybe more than one, on the turmoil, suffering and heartaches that Eva had to endure when I was incarcerated in prisons all over the country for 42 years.
The word 'Rock' was used by the late Princess Diane to describe a friend she could rely upon. It was not original but it is a fitting description. My mother when I was a child and growing-up, Eva throughout my life and Doreen, throughout my marriage, were my three 'Rocks'. Sadly, none are now with us.
During the infamous 'Torture Trial', and after, Doreen excelled as a wife and I will always be grateful to her for her loyalty and devotion, and the fact that she gave me a son of whom I am very proud.
In the 42 years that I have spent in jails throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom Eva came on visits to see me in prison on a very regular basis. I was allowed one visit a month, that is if I wasn't in solitary confinement, so for almost every month for 42 years, Eva spent a day of her life, in all weathers, travelling to strange places that she had never seen before, to visit me.
Even when she married and then became the mother of three children she never failed me, or her husband and children.
Even today with the modern means of transport that would be a daunting task. Sixty years ago it was a Herculean undertaking. Cars were a luxury owned by only a few. Only the more expensive cars had heaters installed. Breakdowns were often. Therefore, public transport was enforced upon most people.
Trains were fuelled by coal fires and were not built for comfort. The heating systems were faulty and often all the carriages, certainly the heating in individual carriages, often failed to work. Long journeys to places like Dartmoor, Liverpool, Isle of Wight and Durham were often a nightmare.
Eva suffered this year after year. When I was young and I was due for release she would be waiting for me at the prison gates. The release time could be 7 a.m. Often on freezing cold mornings. She would be there early to frustrate my being released before the usual time and for me to have no one waiting to welcome me home. So she would wait and see other discharged prisoners leave one by one without a sign of me. When she knocked on the gates of the prison, or rang the bell to inquire at the delay of my release, a surly prison officer would tell I would be out when the prison authorities decided it was time to discharge me.
So Eva would wait, and wait, and wait.
Inside the prison officers would deliberately delay my release with red tape; pretend they were having trouble finding my civilian clothes; were unable to locate me in the prison or use any other reason they could invent to cause a delay.
You would have thought with my reputation as a troublemaker they would have made sure that I was the first out of the prison.
That is what sensible people would have done but anyone that believes prison officers in those days were sensible, would be as daft as Tom O'Bedlam. Of course, there was the odd exception here and there but he was the odd exception.
It was not only the 'screws' that were sadists; a majority of the governors believed that prisoners were sent to them to allow them to indulge in their S & M fetish. They were sick people. They had to be to make a career out of a brutal prison service that treated people so inhumanely.
One of the favourite pleasures of the prison authorities was to allow Eva to travel all the way from London to, say, Durham, and when she arrived at the prison gates with her visiting order they would delight in telling her that I had been moved to another prison, probably over 200 miles away, that very same morning.
After telling me before I relocated that that she had been advised of my transfer.
Even in the early days when Eva wasn't married there was always a telephone number they could ring, maybe the local pub or shop for example, where a message could have been left, which would have been immediately passed onto Eva or another member of my family.
The prison authorities would have this number but they chose to ignore it.
When I was the subject of brutality in prison by governors like William Lawton, the father of Sir Frederick Lawton QC the vicious trial Judge of the alleged 'Torture' Trial, who had tried to murder me in prison, Eva would single-handedly take on the educated civil servants at the Home Office and by sheer persistence force them to unwillingly intervene and stop the brutality.
Eva was not a big woman in stature but a giant in purpose. When her instincts told her that I was in mortal danger she allowed nothing, or no one, to stand in her way. They could have lined-up the war cabinet against her, and if she knew she was right she would take them on single-handed.
She would burst pomposity as easy as sticking a sharp pin in a balloon. Odds against her were never a deterrent. She never minced her words with the heads of civil service departments and if they behaved like naughty children then she would treat them as such. If some were more sinister Eva would guess them out and use her streetwise intellect to stand-up to them and threaten to expose them.
The only time that Eva was unable to contain her emotions was when a degenerate 'screw' who could not better me, sent her hate mail containing pornographic pictures.
Happily married with three children Eva was a honourable and devoted wife and mother. To think that people had such filthy minds shocked even her. In those days pornography was virtually unheard of in this country.
The 'screw' got his comeuppance but that's another story.
When Benny Caulston a principle witness in the 'Torture' Trial, and the one who said I extracted his teeth with a pair of pliers and was believed, sent a message to Eva that he wanted to meet her, and for £1,000 he would tell the truth in the witness box that it was all lies.
Eva, who was now a grandmother, met with Caulston and it was obvious he wanted to tell the truth. She took him to a solicitor where he made a statement to that effect.
When the police heard that Caulston had made a statement exposing the 'Torture Trial' as a sham, they raided Eva's flat, took away the statement and charged her with perverting the course of justice.
Caulston was then again taken into a 'safe' police station and terrified by the senior police officers involved in the 'Torture Trial' into reverting to his original statement that was a catalogue of lies.
The senior officers were fearful of the consequences on their careers and pensions if the truth was told in an open court. They, therefore, bullied him to again change his story and used the pretext that he only made the statement to the independent solicitor in which he stated his evidence was lies because he was afraid of what might happen to him if he gave evidence for the prosecution.
Remarkably this fear wasn't a problem when he made his first statement containing the lies at the behest of the police officers in charge of the 'Torture Trial'.
The independent solicitor that was consulted by Eva and Caulston, was called as a defence witness. He said that Caulston showed no sign of being under any pressure, and when Caulston volunteered to make his statement Eva was asked to leave the room, and did so. Caulston had every opportunity then to make any complaint of intimidation but seemed perfectly at ease.
The statement was then taken down, signed by a willing Caulston and witnessed.
At no time was Eva in the room when this took place.
None of the defence witnesses were believed. Caulston never returned the £1,000, was not afraid to repeat his lies in the witness box - and was believed.
Eva was found guilty and sent to prison for two years.
She was totally innocent but never complained once. Mind you she had a few choice words to say about Caulston, the corrupt police and the then justice system.
Yes, my Eva was a one-off. When she was born they broke the mould.
Less than three weeks ago the family buried my nephew, Jimmy. He died following an accident with a car in Florida, U.S.A. when taking his wife and two daughters for a holiday. He was the son of my brother Jimmy and Anna, his wife.
To have to bury one close member of your family is always very sad. To have to bury two within such a short space of time is heart-breaking.
I speak with a great deal of experience when I say that life is sometimes very hard
R.I.P. Eva and Jimmy.