Youngest of the Bridgewater Three savours his freedom

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The Independent Online
Michael Hickey, the youngest of the Bridgewater Three, emerged from the home of his mother, Ann Whelan (right), yesterday in Wythall, Worcestershire, after tasting his first 48 hours of freedom. He said: "It's still all a bit new to me and a bit confusing."

Mrs Whelan, who campaigned tirelessly for him, said: "We are all a bit up and down ... There just isn't a minute to think."

Lawyers for Mr Hickey, 34, his cousin Vincent and James Robinson, have demanded pounds 50,000 to fund urgent psychiatric care for them. And police involved in the case are under mounting pressure to apologise for allegedly falsifying confessions.

Jim Nichol, solicitor for the freed men, said they were already running into psychological trouble after the initial euphoria of their release on Friday from 18 years' incarceration. He was "disgusted" the Home Office had not offered to fund treatment for the men, who left prison with pounds 46 each and none of the usual counselling offered to long-term inmates. The pounds 50,000 is being sought on top of six-figure compensation sums expected for their wrongful convictions.

Mr Nichol said: "I saw Michael deteriorate on Friday. He has been in psychiatric institutions for probably more than half of his prison life. It's very difficult for them. Jimmy's an old man; Michael's lost his youth."

Vincent Hickey also suffered clinical depression and attempted suicide after they were jailed for the murder of the paperboy Carl Bridgewater on convictions that are almost certain to be quashed.

The Government is considering allowing juries to see videos of police interviews with defendants in the wake of the case, it was reported last night.

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