Man cleared of murder in call for justice
A WEST Fife man, who served more than 10 years in prison for murder before being cleared, has called for new measures to help miscarriage of justice victims.
Steven Johnston (47, pictured) was in jail for more than a decade before his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2006 after the Press had highlighted his case.
However, he has found it difficult to re-adjust to life on the outside without the usual support systems in place to help people being released from prison.
Because Steven and his co-accused, Billy Allison, were eventually cleared of the murder, they ironically missed out on the support measures given to those released as offenders.
Steven told the Press, "I know I need a psychiatrist or psychologist but don't get to see one.
"One day I can be fine but the next I can be hit by stress, anxiety and depression and you don't know how long it's going to last.
"Kenny MacAskill's just announced plans to help police officers. There's a centre for police to recover from attacks with offenders being fined and the money going towards it.
"Why is there still no centre to help people trying to put their lives back together after a miscarriage of justice?
"There has been a campaign for years to get one. It's not as if there are a lot of people in this situation but you need help after coming through something like that.
"You just get abandoned. When offenders come out they get all the help they need whereas we got no support.
"I thought that by now I would have moved on with my life but I've not been able to.
"Everywhere I go people want to talk about the same thing. They're not being nasty or anything but it's always the same thing they ask about.
"I'd like to move somewhere else and make a new start."
Steven is hoping to turn the negative into a positive by using his own experiences to help others.
"I'm hoping to go to college and study psychology.
"I would like to help people who have lived through trauma like domestic abuse, sexual abuse, things like that.
"I've got the knowledge in my head to help them deal with the trauma and as well as helping them it would help me.
"I'm trying to make the most out of the situation.
"If I could help anyone at all it would mean a lot to me.
"At the moment my life means nothing to me but instead of sitting around dwelling on the past I want to move on with my life now," said Steven, from Oakley.
Police and victim support groups welcomed moves by the Scottish Government to make criminals who assault officers pay to help fund their recuperation.
The Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, announced the initiative, one of the first of its kind in the world, during a visit to a police treatment centre in Auchterarder.
The Press spoke to Mr MacAskill this week when he visited Dunfermline and asked if there were any plans to provide more help for miscarriage of justice victims.
He said, "We do work with MOJO, the group which helps in cases of miscarriage of justice.
"Fortunately, these cases are few but when they do happen the effects for the individual can be deep and serious.
"Obviously I can't go into specific details. There's a case ongoing but I think some financial recompense has been made as it should have been but no finance can take away the loss of their freedom so we seek to work with organisations such as MOJO to do what we can to look after the interests of those who have suffered from a miscarriage of justice."
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