Twenty-five years after he was released from prison, Paddy Armstrong returns to London where he became part of one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice when he was wrongfully convicted for pub bombings in Guildford and Woolwich in 1975.
In 1974 Paddy Armstrong was just an ordinary guy working on the building sites in London.
He was living the London hippy life, hanging out on Carnaby Street in an Afghan coat and bellbottoms. He and his 17 year old girlfriend from Newcastle, Carole Richardson, were living in squats and partying hard.
On the 5th October 1974, two bombs exploded in pubs in the town of Guildford, killing five people and maiming many others.
That night, Carole was at a gig in the Elephant and Castle. Paddy was in her squat minding her Labrador.
Two months later, Paddy and Carole along with Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill were arrested for bombing the pubs in Guildford and a pub in Woolwich and their lives as they knew it ended.
The next year, Paddy and Paul Hill received the dubious honour of receiving the longest prison sentence handed out by the British justice system. Paddy's sentence ‘at Her Majesty’s pleasure’ stated that it would be 35 years before he would even be considered for parole.
Paddy, Carole, Gerry and Paul became known as the Guildford Four and continued to maintain their innocence.
The same year that the four went to prison, four IRA men - known as the Balcombe Street Siege Gang - were arrested and admitted to carrying out the Guildford and Woolwich bombings.
Despite this, it would be 15 years before his solicitor Alistair Logan who worked tirelessly on the case - along with others - would manage to get the conviction finally quashed, leaving the Guildford Four to finally walk free. On the 19th October the image of Gerry Conlon bursting from the doors of the Old Bailey to a wall of television cameras became one of the best known images of the release of the Guildford Four.
On that day, Paddy left quietly by the back door of the Old Bailey with Carole - she couldn’t face the media. She lived the rest of her life trying to hide from the public eye and to recover from the ordeal. Carole died in 2012.
Gerry Conlon - probably the best known member of the Guildford Four due to the film 'In The Name of The Father' - was a good friend of Paddy's. After their release, Paddy and Gerry drove across America together, hung out in Goa and had many good times together. Gerry continued to speak out against injustices in the world. He died in June 2014.
Paul Hill now lives in America.
Paddy met Caroline in the International Bar in Dublin in 1996. They married and had two children.
In this documentary Paddy and Caroline return to London on the 25th anniversary of his release from prison for the crime he did not commit, where, as former journalist and MP Chris Mullin says, “small lives were thrown away to protect great reputations.”
Produced by Mary Elaine Tynan and Nicoline Greer.
Narrated by Ruth McCabe.
Sound supervision by Mark McGrath.
First broadcast on Saturday 22nd November, 2pm.
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.