The Wrong Man: 17 Years Behind Bars review – dignified, devastating TV

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Right from nan start, nan events that led to Andrew Malkinson’s imprisonment for rape were absurd. It was summertime 2003 erstwhile constabulary pulled complete nan motorbike connected which nan then-37-year-old was riding pillion – nan exchange, according to a section reporter, Neal Keeling, was “quite amicable”. Weeks later, those aforesaid officers received a explanation of an attacker from a female who had been raped. For immoderate unusual reason, they recalled their little brushwood pinch Malkinson and decided he fresh nan bill. Malkinson was put into a constabulary lineup, past a courtroom, past situation – for 17 years. Truly, though, he was transported into what he calls a “parallel nightmare world”, wherever he remained until past year, when his condemnation was yet overturned.

In The Wrong Man: 17 Years Behind Bars, Malkinson eloquently guides america done his descent into this bizarre hellscape. He willingly attended nan constabulary lineup he believed would clear his name, only to beryllium positively identified by nan victim. Oddly, 2 members of nan nationalist besides claimed to person seen Malkinson adjacent nan segment of nan crime, which took spot connected a motorway embankment successful Salford successful nan early hours. He was recovered blameworthy by a assemblage and fixed a life sentence. He spent his jailhouse clip “hypervigilant” against convulsive attacks – yet he was ever hopeful that thing would travel to ray that proved his innocence.

In fact, it did. Mystery antheral DNA was discovered connected nan victim’s top. Yet Malkinson’s petition to entreaty against his condemnation was denied. At nan aforesaid time, he attended parole hearings, having served his minimum sentence. His freedom, however, was contingent connected an admittance of guilt – but he wasn’t prepared to lie. Even nan Parole Board admitted he was “in a catch-22” situation. It is mind-boggling to realise that if Malkinson really had raped somebody, he would person been free to go, but since he hadn’t, he remained successful prison.

So far, truthful bureaucratically tortuous. Yet it turns retired his ordeal was moreover much nefarious than it first appears – and it’s successful tracing these later developments that this dignified, devastating documentary really hits its stride. Desperate to help, Malkinson’s ex-girlfriend had contacted Appeal, an organisation that assists wrongfully convicted prisoners. Led by nan lawyer Emily Bolton, Appeal looked into Malkinson’s lawsuit and recovered – whoops! – nan constabulary had destroyed nan victim’s clothing, precluding further DNA testing. Oh, and those 2 apparently random witnesses? Not only were some repetition offenders – a truth hidden from nan assemblage – but 1 of them had identified Malkinson successful a lineup connected 2 abstracted dates that he himself had been arrested, says Appeal’s prima investigator, James Burley. (This accusation was only made disposable aft nan organisation took nan constabulary to court.)

In 2020, Malkinson was released, though we are not told why. There are a fewer different niggling gaps successful nan communicative of this documentary that will punctual contiguous supplementary Googling by savvy, true-crime-schooled viewers – did he person an alibi, for instance? But what The Wrong Man does that net hunt engines ne'er could is supply an enormously affecting relationship of Malkinson’s post-release, pre-exoneration limbo.

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I wasn’t expecting to sob astatine nan show of a middle-aged man driving a borrowed Fiat Panda up a ungraded way but, arsenic portion of Bolton’s attempts to rehabilitate Malkinson aft his release, it is an extraordinarily affectional moment. Shortly earlier this, we witnesser Malkinson’s first steps retired of nan situation gates and into a greenish expanse of quiet countryside (this documentary has intelligibly been years successful nan making). The Appeal squad is location pinch a crate of his favourite foods; he is fixed a phone. He has near situation connected life licence, still technically a activity offender and, astatine this point, a “social pariah”, says Bolton. She finds him a level and decorates it, but erstwhile it becomes clear that his clip wrong has shattered his short-term memory, she puts him up successful her idyllic countryside home. It’s difficult to cognize what is much moving: Malkinson’s gut-wrenching attempts to rebuild his life aliases Bolton’s seemingly limitless generosity and compassion.

Documentaries astir miscarriages of justness thin to beryllium designed to make viewers angry. The Wrong Man surely achieves that, not slightest because it concludes pinch nan unbelievable news that Malkinson has not received a penny of compensation for his ordeal. Yet nan rage specified programmes induce is often clouded by an overwhelming consciousness of impotence successful nan look of a rotten ineligible system. This show, however, suggests location is really thing you tin do: donate to Appeal, which rescued Malkinson and is helping galore others. In a adjacent and conscionable society, it wouldn’t beryllium – but, rather patently, we don’t unrecorded successful 1 of those.

Source theguardian