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Singing getting me through coronavirus pandemic just like it got me through prison, says Birmingham Six's Hugh

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Hugh Callaghan

Hugh Callaghan

Hugh Callaghan

A man wrongfully convicted of the Birmingham pub bombing has spoken of how singing helped him get through the coronavirus lockdown in the same way it helped him survive prison for 16 years.

Hugh Callaghan (90) counted the notorious Kray brothers as fans while behind bars.

Mr Callaghan was one of the innocent men known as the Birmingham Six convicted of the murder of 21 people in 1974.

He was among guests from a London pensioners' club who told RTE's Morning programme how music helped them pass the days since the lockdown was introduced in March - just as it had done when he was in jail.

After blasting out a strong voiced rendition of Danny Boy for the listeners, Mr Callaghan explained how a prison officer, upon hearing him sing in his cell, invited him to take part in a concert.

It was a move that was to change the way he was treated by other inmates until he was freed in March 1991 after the murder convictions against him and the five other innocent men were quashed by the Court of Appeal.

He said: "I was called up to sing and all the prisoners went mad clapping because they didn't know I could sing.

"I couldn't believe it because all of sudden everybody started talking to me.

"In the prison yard they came up to me and said: 'God, you were great' - all the big London gangsters like the Krays.

"During the coronavirus lockdown I have done all right.

"I have been listening to music, playing music and singing, and that has kept me going.

"It is nice now to be out and about and be amongst people.

"I like to be amongst people."

Belfast Telegraph