Briton's last appeal from cell on death row

BY STEVE BOGGAN

Nick Ingram, the Briton facing execution in America, yesterday made a moving appeal for help from his cell on death row.

In an open letter to the British public, Ingram, 31, thanked those campaigning on his behalf but he rounded on John Major, arguing that the Prime Minister owed his mother an explanation for refusing to make a plea for clemency.

The letter was released as his mother, Ann, prepared to board a flight to Washington, where she hopes to meet Mr Major to try to persuade him to intervene. Downing Street has refused to make a plea for clemency, saying there were no grounds for Mr Major's intervention. Aides said last night that Mrs Ingram's request for a meeting was being considered.

In the letter, issued through his lawyers, Ingram said: "My family mean everything to me and I hate to see them in pain. For this reason, I have to respond to the letter to my mother from Mr Major, for it caused her great suffering.

"Even though I desperately need help, perhaps it is true that Mr Major owes me nothing personally. However, he owes my mother an explanation as to why my government has no proper grounds to support her plea on behalf of her son. My mother deserves respect from our government even if Mr Major would rather have a placid visit to Washington."

Ingram has been on death row in Georgia for 12 years since being convicted of the murder of J C Sawyer and the shooting of his wife, Mary, on his 20th birthday. His lawyers argue that he had blacked out during the crime, that evidence against him is unsafe and that an accomplice may have been involved.

Without overtly expressing his innocence, Ingram says: "I do not want to die in Georgia's electric chair. I hate to see the suffering all this causes so many people - my family, the family of J C Sawyer and so many others.

"I hate to go through all this without being able to face the courts and tell my side. At least I have got to write to Mrs Sawyer, and I hope she will not believe me to be the terrible animal that the prosecutor and the press pretend.

"If I do die, I hope it is not for nothing. I hope people will see that a ritualistic killing in the electric chair solves nothing."

In the letter, Ingram thanks Betty de Fazio, a great-grandmother from Bournemouth, who has been writing to him for five years. Yesterday, she said: "I know that the Nicky I know today could not possibly have done what they said he did."

In his last letter to Mrs de Fazio, Ingram wrote: "I am not at all afraid or distressed, so please don't worry in that regard. I have lived in this cage a very long time, Betty, and I realise that all these people can do to me now is set me free."

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