My review of Life After Life: A Guildford Four Memoir by Paddy Armstrong (Gill Books) can be found in today’s Sunday Business Post Magazine and also here (behind the Iron Paywall). Here’s an excerpt:
On the night of October 5th, 1974, two pubs were bombed in Guildford. The pubs – the Horse and Groom and the Seven Stars – were popular with British Army personnel stationed at a nearby barracks. Five people were killed. At the same time, in Kilburn, a Belfast native named Paddy Armstrong was getting stoned in the squat he shared with his teenage girlfriend, Carole Richardson. Seven weeks later, Paddy was arrested and charged with involvement in the bombings. He had never even been to Guildford.
“We know you didn’t do it,” the cops told Paddy, “but we’re gonna do you for it anyway… because we need bodies.” Over several days in police custody – with no solicitor present – Paddy was beaten, spat upon, abused, and threatened with dogs. “After seven days,” he writes in his gripping new memoir, “I barely know my own name.” Eventually, he cracked, and offered a false confession, implicating two more innocent men, Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill, in the plot to bomb the pubs. Richardson was also charged. When the cops showed Armstrong his statement, “I sign. Don’t bother to re-read it. All rubbish anyway.”