A WEST FIFE man who served more than 10 years in jail for murder before being cleared has been found dead.

Steven Johnston, who was 53, spent more than a decade in prison before his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2006.

He was discovered in a flat in Weston Favell, Northamptonshire on August 4.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire police said they were treating the death as “unexplained” and investigations were ongoing.

Back in 1996, he, along with co-accused Billy Allison, was found guilty of murdering Andrew Forsyth in his Milton Green home in 1995.

However, in June 2000, the Press carried the front page story ‘Rough Justice?’ first highlighting concerns over the murder convictions of the pair because of evidence being withheld.

By then, they had already served four years in jail and it was almost six years later before their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal.

In July 2012, the story reached a conclusion when Richard Munro, the detective in charge of the murder hunt, was jailed for five years for suppressing evidence.

In 2000, the Press reported that officers spoke to six people who had seen Mr Forsyth alive after November 3, when police said he had been killed, although his body was not found until six days later.

The accounts by the witnesses were withheld by Munro and never passed onto the procurator fiscal, who was preparing the case against Johnston and Allison.

Johnston’s defence solicitor, Stephen Morrison, fought to highlight the glaring anomalies in the case and his efforts saw him being commended for his professionalism by the appeal judge.

This week he told the Press that he had remained in “irregular contact” with Steven since the case and was aware that he had ultimately settled in Northampton.

Back in 2012, he described the proceedings as a “long, long slog” which became part of his life.

“There were long periods of inactivity but it was always there burning a hole in your brain,” he explained. “I’m a little bit like a dog with a bone. If I feel there’s something not right there, something unjust, it’s in the nature of a defence lawyer to want to ferret in amongst that to see what you can find.”

At the beginning of disgraced cop Munro’s trial, Johnston, who was originally from Oakley, called for new measures to help miscarriage of justice victims.

Speaking to the Press in April 2012, he spoke of the difficulty he had in re-adjusting to life on the outside without the usual support systems in place to help people being released from prison.

He said he planned to move elsewhere and make a new start.

“Why is there still no centre to help people trying to put their lives back together after a miscarriage of justice?” he said.

“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.”

Steven did receive support from the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (MOJO) which is dedicated to assisting innocent people both in prison and after their release.

It’s co-project manager, Paul McLaughlin, said he was last in contact with him in December and was “shattered” by the news of his death.

“Stevie was struggling with the whole experience and basically could not cope and what has happened to Stevie happens in an awful lot of cases where someone has suffered a miscarriage of justice,” he said.

“My heart goes out to Stevie’s family. He was someone who we worked with very closely.

“We tried to do our best in terms of offering him support but again, he becomes another victim of failure to provide proper aftercare.

“It it worse than sad, it is tragic. You are left to fend for yourself with no apology. There is no responsibility taken by any of the authorities although, in this case, Richard Munro went to prison but Richard Munro was not the only police officer that was involved in fitting Steven and Billy up.”

To his frustration, Paul said measures to help miscarriage of justice victims had not improved.

“What we would suggest is specialised services should be put in place to ensure transition from prison life into the community and to provide ongoing support through their lifetime,” he added.

“Giving someone a sticky plaster on their release is not going to provide a life free of drugs and trauma. Obviously, Stevie had issues. He went to prison an ordinary working class guy. He was extremely damaged by that experience and he gained an addiction problem. He carried that back into the community and that is the sad part of it.

“He was using that as a mechanism to dull the pain.”