Gary Critchley – Raised In A Prison

This is to flag up the case of Gary Critchley who is still in prison for an alleged murder at Campbell Buildings in 1980 – see recent posts on Bob Short’s Trash Can book thread for more details and also the official website and also this website.

The challenge is to get this miscarriage of justice overturned.

But how? I suggest it needs a twin track approach

Firstly to raise the public profile (as Jock has suggested) via myspace / facebook / blog sites like KYPP – for example by putting a slide show of Gary’s paintings plus a relevant soundtrack eg Raised in a Prison by the Mob on youtube or organising a UK exhibition of Gary’s paintings…

Secondly using official channels eg letters to your MP and the Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP
Home Secretary 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF.

Gary is also being supported by Wendy Thurley and Julie Coimbra.

Julie and Wendy are librarians in Cambridge and contacted KYPP about the case.

Julie said [edited]:

“Myself and another librarian have become involved in trying to publicize this extraordinary miscarriage of justice. We happened to purchase some of Gary’s paintings and began corresponding with him without ever asking why he was inside. When the Private Eye article came out in July we were flabbergasted to say the least and began our campaign. Fifty of his paintings were sent to Adelaide and were in a recent exhibition there. Prior to posting them we photographed them all and have made them into cards to sell, 12 are at present on the website.

If you have ANY INFORMATION WHATSOEVER that could be helpful could you let us know and we can pass it on to Glyn Maddocks, the solicitor who has taken up his case. Anyone who can provide ANY INFORMATION should be encouraged to contact us as soon as possible”.

Julie and Wendy have created the website from which the following bio of Gary is taken.

Finally – don’t wait for someone else to act. If you think this is important get on and do it yourself.

Biography- Gary Critchley “Raised In A Prison”.

“England is a supposed model of democracy and justice, yet ironically I have so far been made to serve longer for being rebellious and non-conformist than the Yorkshire Ripper has for 13 serial Killings. Nowadays, painting is the only thing that keeps me alive.“

Gary Critchley

Born in Birmingham and raised on an estate that bordered on two mental hospitals, visiting and often staying with his elder brother in care homes and approved schools,

Gary was introduced to institutions at a very early age. At 8 years old he got drunk on alcohol and by the age of 12 he was drinking on a regular basis. Aged 14, Gary became a punk rocker, was recruited to the Young Socialist party and excluded from school for leading ‘pupil-power’ marches and picketing the school. Also aged 14 Gary was sent to juvenile detention centre for criminal damage and theft. During his time there he was physically and mentally abused and he describes this as a very negative period of his life.

Upon release he quickly deteriorated, abusing various drugs and becoming involved with crime. In 1980, six months after being released from borstal, he moved to live in London. In June of that year he was discovered severely injured four stories below the flat he was squatting [in Campbell Buildings] and was taken to hospital with a broken back, arm, legs and head injuries. When police investigated the circumstances, they found the body of another man in Gary’s squat. Charged and bailed for this man’s murder, Gary returned to Birmingham where even on crutches he continued his life of punk rock gigs and substance abuse.

In May 1981, he was found guilty of murder (despite numerous forensic discrepancies) and sentenced to be ‘detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure’, the juvenile equivalent of a life sentence. The then Lord Chief Justice recommended that he should serve ‘no more that 8-9 years’. Despite this it was a full 20 years before Gary was first released in July 2000.

Gary was recalled to prison three months later for having sexual relationships with two female peers at his rehab unit and running away with one of them. After another three years in prison for these breaches of his license conditions, he was again released in 2003 to another drink /drug rehab centre. Twelve months later in 2004 he was again recalled to prison for missing a probation appointment. He’s still there.

Over the last five years in prison, Gary has suffered from severe depression and made three serious attempts to take his own life. After the second attempt, Gary was introduced to drawing and painting for the first time in and has since become a prolific painter. He has won a Koestler award for one of his paintings and has been both encouraged and inspired to paint by the staff of a Cambridge University library that have bought and exhibited several of his early works and sponsor him with materials etc.

Despite unanimous recommendations of release and the parole board agreeing that he does not constitute a risk to the public, Gary was recently refused parole on the grounds that if he was ever to relapse into drink /drug use there was a “possibility” that he “could” re-offend violently. This was despite all professional opinion and the masses of evidence to the contrary where Gary has been in active addiction without any such incident.

This ruling is currently the subject of a judicial review, being in breach of not only the Human Rights Act but also several judicial rulings regarding Lifers. There are also investigations still going on into the events surrounding the index offence, of which Gary to this day has no memory.

Gary describes his on-going imprisonment as “warehousing”. He has now actually served more than three times the recommended sentence. He maintains that he never murdered anyone, never intended to hurt anyone and has never before or indeed since the age of 17 been involved in any violence. He says he is now semi-institutionalised and a true product of the system. No longer jailed in relation to the original offence, he has become somewhat of a political prisoner: being punished over and over by a retributive system for his years of rebellion and breaches of petty rules.

Gary on right with green jacket and blond spikes 1979/80 – photo courtesy of Carol Coombes.

Some of Gary’s prison artwork may be viewed HERE

Template for contacting MP’s and other officials or media. Please cut and paste the document below onto a word document and print it out to send by post or fax.

Dear …………………..,

I am contacting you regarding Gary Critchley, prisoner no B39969 (A1473AK), convicted of murder in 1981.

The Judge at the time recommended he serve no more than 9/10 years.

This is now his 30th year of incarceration. The conviction is unsafe and according to his solicitor one of the worst miscarriages of justice Britain has ever seen.

Briefly the case is as follows, however please read the Private Eye article


for full details.

Gary allegedly killed a man in 1980. During this murder he sustained frontal lobe damage to his brain, by being hit with a hammer. He also broke his back, ankle and wrist and was found in the street covered in blood.

The victim sustained more than 20 blows with a hammer.

The blood on Gary was found to be from his injuries and there was not one speck of the victim’s blood on him.

The victim was discovered in a room on the upper floor in the building, Gary was found outside on the pavement.

The only evidence to link Gary to the crime was a trainer, two or three sizes too small for him, on his left foot. On his right foot was his own boot which fitted him.

Gary apparently killed the victim, avoiding any blood, changed one shoe, hit himself on the head with the hammer, and then jumped out of the window.

The truth indicates that both Gary and the victim were attacked by a third party, who remains at liberty.

I feel that this really is a grave miscarriage of justice.

Unfortunately, this is not a high profile case, merely the case of an ordinary citizen who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A person who nearly lost his life, but who ended up in prison himself, for something the forensic evidence suggests that he didn’t commit.

I am asking you to look into this, because I know if you do, you will want to take it further.

……………………………………………… Signature.

  1. jock
    January 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    happy new year gary,sorry not wrote for a long time,too long,aint forgotten ya,will post in near future,all the best.

  2. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    January 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Alright Nick – cheers for the stations album!…brought back a few memories that – especially of Digbeth…I was thrown on stage over peoples heads a couple of times by Graham (Dread Messiah) – who I saw on the scumfest site where he looked like a big lanky version of Iggy Pop in the tight bright yellow trousers – anyway I remember on the one occasion crashing into Penny Rimbauld and I think it was the guitarist and drunkenly trying to wrestle the guitar off him!
    Anyway back to your letter, thanks as I said for the album, and I never know what to say either so that makes two of us! Although I usually just say the first thing that comes into my head < which don't go down to well when you are writing to the Home Sec. or the Ministry of J. and telling them that "…if they had the ballls they would do something about the whole poxy farce that this has become, but then why really give a shit when it is them that are mainly responsible for the non-disclosure of the 'missing evidence' …they are all 'just Pinheads in business suits' as Devo used to say. well anyway Nick I have asked LeeAnn to do the wish-list thing which Virginia suggested, but I will see what I can get together anyway, okay Nick. I really appreciate you all being there and all the support…say hello to your family for me…and hope to see you sometime in the future (maybe we can arrange something with Gerard – the Web-designer or some of the others (maybe even Julie and Wendy when they come sometime?). Anyway, keep in touch with the site (that goes for everyone else from Campbell Buildings or wherever too!) and with me, and take care mate – Be lucky – Gary C.

  3. Nick Hydra
    Nick Hydra
    January 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Hi Gary,

    No problem, I’ll put the other stuff on the wishlist as soon as I get the info from Sharnay.


  4. Nick Hydra
    Nick Hydra
    January 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I’ve just put loads of stuff on it, but don’t go mad otherwise he’ll get everything all at the same time. It’s probably better to do it gradually so he’s got something to look forward to.

  5. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    January 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Thanks Nick, spoke to Gerard about maybe coming up with you sometime if that’s okay. Thanks for talking to LeeAnn and sorting the wishlist out. I will keep adding stuff when I have had a look at what is available on some of the other sites. Have you spoken to Julie and Wendy lately? Wendy phoned me yesterday and seems okay. Hope to see you b4 too long. Take Care – Gary

  6. Penguin
    January 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Nick regarding the wishlist…how does the prospective buyer know that an item is not already sold and being sent out? Do the items come off the list after one person has bought the item for Gary? I am sure he would not like four or five Congos CD’s great as the Congos are…

  7. Nick Hydra
    Nick Hydra
    January 19, 2011 at 7:45 am

    When people buy stuff it automatically comes off the wishlist as long as it’s bought directly from Amazon . If you buy it from ‘other sellers’ VIA Amazon it SHOULD come off the list, but doesn’t always

    I have put a message on all the items that are not direct from Amazon to contact me if anyone buys them so I can make sure they’ve been removed.

  8. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    February 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks Nick for the book which was great, although it wasn’t on the list, that doesn’t really matter as I am grateful for anything what anyone wants to send and sometimes it is better as a suprize anyway, so thanks.

  9. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    February 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Alright Doughnut, I hope you read this…I love you and hope you have been using your new frying pan!

  10. gary critchley
    gary critchley
    April 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Hiya sweetheart

  11. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    May 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Idon’t know whether anyone even bothers using this thread anymore, it doesn’t seem like it, but just incase I want to let you know that there is a large outdoor festival (all-day and all-nighter, with more to follow) being held on the 30th of July in Redditch near Birmingham to mark the opening of a new site called ‘F3GC’. There will be at least ten bands playing including the ‘cracked actors’, and local reggae artist – ‘Sledge ‘Ammer’ (who is currently reecording a single to be released simultaneously about my case). The concert is to be held on Adams farm – directions to follow later – and is in conjunction with ‘Hedgerow productions’ and others. There will be camping facilities, food, drink,…etc also provided by the landowners. Tickets will be available nearer the date, but you will also be able to pay on the door. ‘Hedgerow productions’ are responsible for running a number of other festivals annually, and have a Licence to run this and a number of other events. Look out for further updates on this and the other sites soon. Gary
    The F3GC site will be a sister site to the J4GC site, but will be a mainly merchandising site, where tickets to events, prints, paintings, and a numbeer of other items will be available. Both J4GC on facebook and the J4GC.Org sites will carry on as normal.

  12. baronvonzubb
    June 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Dont worry Gaz people still come here but use the FB pages for case info , i think.

  13. gary critchley
    gary critchley
    June 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Alright Baron, If you or anyone else get the chance try to get along to the festival on the 30th of july at Adams…details on the new site… If any of the people that wanted prints read this then they are also available there at last. love gary

  14. gary critchley
    gary critchley
    August 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Hello? Is there anybody still out there?…If so please join my new page on F.Book just called Gary Critchley. If Robbo or Sue are reading this then please come forward as you really are needed and could make a difference to my ongoing purgatory…I need you now. I’m not interested in what has transpired before and all I am interested in is what is going on now with the innocence project, etc…So remember what you said earlier on in this thread before you decided to go A.W.O.L. again about helping me…well better late than never mate and I really would be made up to hear from you. You can remain as confidential or anonymous as you want Okay. Gary C.

  15. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    September 24, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Thanks Penguin, hopefully Charlie will have gotten your friends request and Robbo’s E-mail address by now. I will tell him to look out for it and to answer you a.s.a.p. Thanks again, I will let you know if I have any luck

  16. chaz
    October 9, 2011 at 1:19 am

    i remember gary well i was in a remand home in kings norton with him Forhill house in the late 70s we were both punks he wasnt a murderer he was a nice guy fun but not loud , i was shocked when i heard what has happend to him ,i hope he gets justice and is out soon ,keep your chin up cocker ,and the paintings are great

  17. gerard
    February 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Gary will be free on Monday!!

    Out on parole!

    I’d like to think this thread helped – now to clear his name

  18. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    March 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    This is a story from the sunday mercury (birmingham)

    Gary Critchley enjoys his first day of freedom after being in jail for 30 years

    Mar 4 2012 by Adam Aspinall, Sunday Mercury

    A FORMER punk rocker jailed for over three decades for a crime he insists he did not commit has shared his first taste of freedom with the Sunday Mercury.

    Gary Critchley, 49, from Birmingham, has been released from prison on parole after 31 years behind bars.

    And he is currently learning how to deal with a very different world to the one he has been forbidden from seeing since he was locked up at the age of 17 in 1981.

    Gary said: “It feels great to be out, it really does. But it is so strange getting to grips with everything because so much has changed.

    “It is like the whole of Birmingham has gone up a gear. Everything is so much busier to how I remember it and there are so many more people about.

    “Certain neighbourhoods I knew when I was younger have completely changed their character.

    “I could not believe what I was seeing when I saw that the Longbridge factory had gone.

    “It was very sad.

    “Birmingham is also so much noisier then it used to be but it also looks much more modern in the city centre.

    “There is so much for me to see and do, and there is so much for me to learn, that it is going to take time.

    “I am just so happy to be out. I am enjoying every minute of it.”

    Gary was jailed for the murder Edward McNeill, who was found bludgeoned to death in a London squat in 1980. There were no forensics to tie him to the crime and witness statements blaming someone else were never heard in court.

    To everyone’s disbelief Gary was convicted of murder and ‘detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure’, the juvenile equivalent of a life sentence with a recommendation that he should serve ‘no more than nine years’.

    Gary has since lost multiple appeals and the Criminal Cases Review Commission has, so far, refused to re-open his case.

    But the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation and The Innocence Project UK have taken up the fight to overturn his conviction.

    Meanwhile, Gary said he was relieved to be finally a free man once more and says he hopes to try to make money by selling his paintings.

    While in prison he became a prolific painter and won a Koestler award for some of his works.

    He has also been encouraged by staff of Cambridge University, who exhibited several of his paintings in their library.

    He even sent a painting to Nelson Mandela, who wrote a thank you letter to him and wished him luck with his bid to clear his name.

    He said: “I am really keen to work. But I will not be able to do that for a while due to the demands of my parole conditions.

    “As I wait for these to work out I think I am going to try to make some money by selling some of my paintings.

    “I have had a lot of praise for them in the past and think if I could set myself up in a studio or something like that I could make a good effort trying to make a living out of it.

    “So I am going to focus on enjoying my life and clearing my name.

    “It is extremely important for me to do that, not just for myself but also for my long-suffering mum.

    “My brother Alan was murdered in 1987 and my dad John was killed by a drink driver so I cannot be the only male left in my family with the tag of a murderer. I will not let that happen and I will clear my name.

    l For more information visit

  19. Penguin
    March 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Great news indeed Gary, hope things work out for you with your family and friends along side. All the best for the future.

  20. Paul luton
    Paul luton
    March 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I just read this whole thread, after seeing a link on the UK Decay site. Nice way to end the thread, now hopefully to clear your name Gary. You sure don’t seem like the loony type, and plenty of testimonies that you’re not. Just shows something like that could have happened to any of us in our younger days. All the best mate.

  21. bvaronvonzubb
    March 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    just brilliant news. heared 2 mins ago
    best way to start the year 🙂


  22. baronvonzubb
    March 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    And of course MR P give yourself a pat on the back for your part in it.
    Good on yer mate.

  23. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    May 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Message from freedom…ey up this ain’t half bad…on the other hand i’m still convicted and will never be truly free until this conviction is over-turned.

  24. baronvonzubb
    May 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Yep thats the next stage mate. It will happen, all the best

  25. Gary Critchley
    Gary Critchley
    June 10, 2012 at 4:29 am

    Oh I have no doubt whatsoever it will happen Baron, it’s just a question of when not if, but it doesn’t wrankle any less because of that fact. 32 F***ing years is quite a long wait mate and I’m not getting any younger, although that does not matter much as just before the mental health board re-classified me and said that I did not satisfy the mental health act,I had just discovered that I am immortal.

  26. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    October 27, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Whatever happened to you then Robbo? It might be important, you just never know.

    Gary, I haven’t been well mate so haven’t been on here but it’s so good to hear you’re free. Peace and love my friend.

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