THE FRESHWATER FIVE

Fishermen failed by underfunded criminal appeals system

On 29th May 2010, Jamie Green said goodbye to his family, and set off in his boat, Galwad Y Mor, with a crew of three from the harbour of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. They had a typical fishing trip planned – starting at dusk, collecting up their crab and lobster pots, hauling them on deck, removing the catch and setting them back for the next day.

But this evening was unlike any other. They had unwittingly sailed into the middle of ‘Operation Disorient’, a drug smuggling investigation run by the Middle Market Drugs Partnership (MMDP) and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). The police were on the hunt for a drugs drop they'd been tipped was about to take place. For want of better options, Jamie and his crew became the prime suspects.

Accused

A fisherman checking his pots in Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight had found something snagged on his marker buoy. Pulling it up and realising it was something suspicious, he called the Coastguard. It turned out to be a rope along which were slung bags containing £53 million worth of cocaine.

The first Jamie knew that Operation Disorient had decided that his little fishing boat was the collection vessel was when he and two of the crew were arrested. Another crew member and a friend were arrested several months later.

The case of Jamie and the rest of the Freshwater Five (Scott Birtwistle, Jon Beere, Dan Payne and Zoran "Vic" Dresic) is being considered by the Criminal Case Review Commission for referral to to the Court of Appeal.

You can read more about this case in the Mail on Sunday and Private Eye, or visit 5men104years.com, made by Jamie's sister Nicky.

 

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Highlighting what needs to change

Jamie's wife Nikki died on 30 November, 2015. She battled terminal cancer throughout Jamie's imprisonment. He desperately wanted to be with her. Instead he was stuck behind bars for a crime we believe he did not commit.

The Criminal Case Review Commission takes at least 72 weeks to process an application. Nikki's death highlights the terrible human toll taken by delays in the system caused by chronic under-resourcing.

What is most heartbreaking about this case is how long it is taking to put right. This is simply a matter of money – funding to pay for the analysis and investigation we need to do on the case as lawyers, but also the crisis at the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which has been starved of funds for years.
— Emily Bolton, lawyer