Man wrongly convicted of Cardiff Newsagent Three murder, hits victim’s family


Michael O’Brien was one of three men wrongly convicted of the 1987 murder of Cardiff businessman Phillip Saunders and served 11 years in prison

Philip Saunders
Phillip Saunders was assassinated in 1987

A man who has served 11 years in prison for a murder he did not commit has finally faced an emotional meeting with the victim’s family.

Michael O’Brien, now 52, ​​was one of three men – the so-called “Cardiff Newsagent Three” – wrongly convicted of the 1987 murder of Cardiff businessman Phillip Saunders.

After a traumatic decade in prison – during which he saw a man stabbed and his young daughter die – Michael was released when the appeals court overturned that conviction along with two other men charged with murder, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood.

Michael has spent his time rallying himself for an investigation into Phillip’s death and the behavior of the South Wales Police in order to find the real killer and bring the unsolved murder to an end.

And he finally has the help of Phillip’s family, whom he’s been trying to reach for years.

During an emotional meeting with Raphael Rowe about British Injustice, Michael Phillips met sister Phoebe, now 92, and their son David.

Raphael Rowe with falsely accused Michael O’Brien and Ellis Sherwood on the show

Phoebe, who is afraid of dying without seeing justice for her brother, said to Michael: “Nice to meet you. You can’t put a band-aid on to fix what’s done to you or your family or something like that.

“That’s why we can sympathize with you. Because we know what you’ve been through. I’m glad we agreed on you. We have often thought of you. I am very relieved and happy.

“I just hope I’m alive when they find out who really did it.”

A tearful David, 63, told him: “My heart beats for what you’ve been through.”

Of the meeting, Michael told the Sunday Mirror: “It was wonderful to meet her, but it was very painful. I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time. I can’t empathize with her enough and am so desperate for her to see justice because Phillip’s killer is still at large and this worries me greatly.

“It’s bad enough what happened to me, but the family was lost in this miscarriage of justice – I’ve stood up for their cause since the day I got out of prison. They’re the main victims here and I’m just a secondary victim of what they went through.”

Raphael Rowe examines some of the most shocking miscarriages of justice in recent British history

Michael was just 19 when he was sentenced to life in prison after being wrongly convicted of murder.

When his young daughter Kylie died, he was only allowed out of prison to attend the funeral while tied to a guard.

His stepfather later died and there were armed police at the funeral, with Michael saying he felt he was being treated “like Reggie Kray”.

He chose drinks and drugs in the early years and still struggles with PTSD after seven men were murdered in prison during his time there.

He witnessed one inmate stabbing another inmate, an image that still haunts him today.

Michael has been fighting for justice for 35 years

Michael received £692,000 in compensation from the Home Office and later a record £300,000 from police for malicious prosecution after his conviction was overturned.

But life after prison was a struggle for Michael.

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For a time he found happiness with his new wife Claire – but tragedy struck again when their two-year-old son Dylan died of a rare genetic disorder which had not been properly treated by the NHS.

Now he’s focused on bringing a new police investigation, by an outside force, into the unsolved murder he was convicted of three decades ago.

Michael is now focused on starting a new police investigation

He spent his time in prison learning to read and write to resist his conviction and even taught himself law.

Starting a new investigation is what single dad Michael is focusing on now as he takes care of his 10-year-old son Dainton.

He added: “I cherish every day with Dainton because I realize how much life I’ve missed in prison.

“And every day I think of Phillip Saunders and the fact that justice has still not been done for his family.”

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