Belfast Telegraph

Jail 'hell' had Conlon on the verge of suicide

By Ed Carty

The Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon felt such despair after 12 years in prison that he was on the verge of killing himself, private letters to the Irish Government show.

While languishing in HMP Long Lartin in England in 1987, seven years after his father Giuseppe died in jail, Mr Conlon wrote how he could not face another 18 years of "living hell".

Conlon died in 2014 aged 60, three weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The letter, dated May 10, 1987 and released by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin under the 30-year rule, was sent to then Tanaiste and Irish Foreign Affairs minister Brian Lenihan. The west Belfast man reflected on the 30-year sentence handed down to him.

"That means if nothing is done to help us I must face another 18 years of a 'living hell'," he wrote.

"I can assure you that I do not intend to serve it, I would much rather join my dear father. I can see that if my plight is not resolved in the near future that I will have to decide which form of protest I must take."

Mr Conlon and the rest of the Guildford Four - Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong - were given life sentences for the attacks in Surrey which killed five people and injured 65. Their convictions were overturned in 1989.

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