Victor Nealon spent a third of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.


Postman who spent 17 years in prison after wrongful conviction for attempted rape says he is a ‘greater person’ for being victim of miscarriage of justice
Justice: Victor Nealon says he is considering suing the police after being given a life sentence in January 1997 for an attempted rape he did not commit +7
Justice: Victor Nealon says he is considering suing the police after being given a life sentence in January 1997 for an attempted rape he did not commit
A postman who spent 17 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of attempted rape says he is a ‘greater person’ for his miscarriage of justice.
Victor Nealon, 53, says he ‘wants justice’ and is considering suing the police after being given a life sentence in January 1997 for the attempted rape of a 22-year-old woman.
But despite spending almost a third of his life behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, Mr Nealon says he has no bitterness towards the prison system, and insists the experience was a positive one.
Mr Nealon, from Redditch in Worcestershire, was finally freed from HMP Wakefield on December 13 after DNA evidence from the woman’s blouse was examined, which revealed another unknown man was the perpetrator.
He maintained his innocence throughout his spell in prison, even though it meant serving the full life sentence instead of pleading guilty and being released after serving half.
Mr Nealon believes his original defence team were ‘incompetent’ and says that while on trial he came close to confessing as it appeared the only way to get a lighter sentence.
He said: ‘The police never had any evidence against me but my legal team in the trial were incompetent but I wasn’t to know that at the time. I had never been at a trial before.’
Mr Nealon added: ‘The evidence has always been freely visible. I have had 17 years of this so now it is time for justice… I want my life back.’
On how he found prison to be a positive experience, Mr Nealon said: ‘Really I am a greater person for this experience, all experiences are valuable. Like Nelson Mandela said ‘there is no easy walk to freedom”.

He added: ‘Now I have to be rational, the system is as it is and I have to be patient. I have missed out on a lot. I still think I am in my 30s because prison has its own time.’
Speaking of potentially suing over his wrongful imprisonment, Mr Nealon said: ‘I would like to think there is potential for civil action but I don’t want to pre-empt what the outcome might be.’
Wrong man: Victor Nealon spent 17 years at HMP Wakefield, but says he found the experience positive +7
Wrong man: Victor Nealon spent 17 years at HMP Wakefield, but says he found the experience positive
Victor Nealon as a young man +7
Freedom: Mr Nealon says 17 years in prison made him a ‘greater person’ +7
Changes: Victor Nealon was 36-years-old (left) when he was wrongly imprisoned for attempted rape. He was finally released 17 years later, aged 53 (right)
Back home: Victor Nealon says he came close to confessing to the crime, despite not committing it, as it appeared the only way to get a lighter sentence +7
Back home: Victor Nealon says he came close to confessing to the crime, despite not committing it, as it appeared the only way to get a lighter sentence
He added: ‘I have called for the police to re-open the investigation and I think the victim should as well… Surely the bigger interest is justice for the victim – she has never received any apology.’
Although he believes HMP Wakefield ‘did all they could under the circumstances’, Mr Nealon says the only way he survived 17 years in prison was by studying the details of his case ‘like an academic’.
Describing his case as an ‘escape from prison life’, Mr Nealon says he had to remove himself from the facts and comb through the details as if they had happened to somebody else.
But as appeal after appeal failed, Mr Nealon says he became increasingly cynical about his prospects of release ‘as a self defence mechanism’.
Grim: The former postman says he only survived his time at HMP Wakefield by studying the details of his case +7
Grim: The former postman says he only survived his time at HMP Wakefield by studying the details of his case
Mr Nealon’s hard work eventually paid off when he was given seven days’ notice of an appeal hearing.
Freedom: Mr Nealon says 17 years in prison made him a ‘greater person’ +7
Freedom: Mr Nealon says 17 years in prison made him a ‘greater person’
Although he didn’t have long to prepare, 17 years of research ensured Mr Nealon was able to present a strong case.
He left HMP Wakefield within three hours of the verdict being made and was released with just £46 in his pocket and nowhere to stay.
After sleeping in cheap B&Bs and friend’s floors Mr Nealon was given temporary accommodation above the constituency office of Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming, who is helping him adjust to life outside prison.
Recalling his sudden release, Mr Nealon told how he was forced to adjust to the modern world.
He said: ‘I just felt lost when I got out, the prison gave me £46, a random amount I will never know how they got to…They also gave me a train ticket to where I wanted to go, which was Shrewsbury.’
Mr Nealon was taken to Leeds train station by the prison’s deputy governor, where he says the reality of his time away from the outside world really hit him.
He says he was shocked by how many people were crowded into the train station and couldn’t believe the price of a payphone call had risen from 10p to 60p.
Despite claiming to find anonymity among the crowds ‘calming’, Mr Nealon says he chose to celebrate Christmas alone as having his freedom was enough.
He says his biggest regret is not having children, but has big plans for 2014 – including finding a place of his own and possibly even travelling the world.
Mr Nealon says: ‘One place I want to go is Egypt but it will be a long time until then’.
For now, however, Mr Nealon is content to enjoy his freedom by focusing on the simple things in life.
He says: ‘Even going out to get milk still seems novel to me.’

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