The Freshwater Five

The battle continues: freshwater five apply to the independent office of police conduct (IOPC) for a review of alleged police corruption in their case

Supporters of the Freshwater Five mark the anniversary of the events that led to the men’s wrongful imprisonment on the cliffs above Freshwater Bay.

“The Independent Office of Police Conduct has the power to get to the bottom of what happened here and why. ” – Emily Bolton, Lawyer

The Freshwater Five were sentenced to a total of 104 years’ imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court in 2011 after being convicted by an 11-1 majority jury verdict.

Scaffolding business owner Jonathan Beere, fishing boat skipper Jamie Green and crewmember Zoran Dresic were each handed down 24 years’ imprisonment, while fishermen Daniel Payne and Scott Birtwistle received 18-and 14-year sentences respectively. Two of the men – Jonathan Beere and Zoran Dresic – are still in prison.

The five men have consistently maintained their innocence and have brought evidence to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Court of Appeal to show that they did not pick up drugs mid-Channel or deposit them in the waters of Freshwater Bay off the Isle of Wight.  The Commission and the Court have found the evidence presented to be insufficient to see the convictions quashed so far, but the five men and their families, with the help of APPEAL, are resolute in their determination to clear their names.

The case, involving a joint operation between the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police, is now in front of the Independent Office for Police Conduct after the Court of Appeal effectively found that officers had embellished their testimony in order to link the fishing boat to the drugs found in Freshwater Bay.

“The obvious truth which cannot have escaped the jury is that [the clifftop officers] did not, at the time of their observation of the Galwad, identify that they were seeing or had seen holdalls being deployed in a line, as they described (and as were in fact found in the Bay the next day). Thus, there was, as we put it above, no credible eye witness testimony in terms linking the Galwad (and therefore the applicants) to the drugs found on 31 May 2010.” – Court of Appeal judgement

You can hear more about this issue in the third episode of Freshwater, the Guardian’s five-part documentary podcast, Today in Focus (click on image below):

You can read more about this case in the The Observer, and the Mail on Sunday, or visit 5men104years.com, the campaign site made by Jamie’s indomitable sister Nicky.

A short film about the case made by Jim Reed of the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme can be found below:

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