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Man Who Spent 12 Years Wrongly Imprisoned For Murder Shares Scariest Moments In Maximum Security Prisons

Jake Massey

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Man Who Spent 12 Years Wrongly Imprisoned For Murder Shares Scariest Moments In Maximum Security Prisons

A man who spent 12 years in maximum security prisons for a murder he didn't commit has reflected on his scariest moments behind bars. Watch here:

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In 1990, Raphael Rowe was wrongfully convicted of killing Peter Hurburgh in 1988, and was sentenced to life in prison.

He was sent down along with Michael Davis and Randolph Johnson for the murder, which took place during a string of brutal burglaries in Surrey, close to the M25 motorway – earning them the title 'the M25 Three'.

The trio maintained their innocence throughout their incarceration and Rowe held out hope that his conviction would one day be overturned. Indeed, surviving victims of the spate of crimes said at least one of the culprits was white; and yet, three Black men were found guilty.

Naturally then, Rowe felt immense anger during his 12 years behind bars in maximum security prisons, and he spent much of this time in a 'prison within a prison' as punishment for 'resisting the prison regime'.

He spent more than a decade locked up for a crime he didn't commit. Credit: Alamy
He spent more than a decade locked up for a crime he didn't commit. Credit: Alamy

"They expect guilty people to behave and do certain things, like work or attend anger management courses," Rowe told LADbible.

"Because I wouldn't do any of that I was constantly being punished in prison for resisting against the regime.

"And that was tough, you know, being in an isolation or segregation cell, stripped naked, having just been beaten black and blue by prison officers for resisting the regime.

"That was tough. That was really hard – really hard."

Rowe's 20s were stolen from him, and he spent more than a decade exposed to terrifying violence.

Reflecting on his scariest moments in prison, Rowe – now 54 – said: "Standing in the face of six or seven burly prison officers about to descend on me and beat me just because I refuse to go to work, or just because I wanted an extra phone call to call my family to get something done with my case.

"Also, witnessing some horrific, violent attacks on other prisoners who were in for say, sexual offences. Watching hot water laced with sugar poured over people as their skin peeled from their skin, seeing guys get stabbed and beaten, seeing prison officers being attacked.

"Witnessing those things always instilled a kind of daily fear that it could be you, it could be you that is the next victim of such a vicious attack. So that was always constantly there."

He witnessed horrific things during his time in maximum security prisons. Credit: Crime+Investigation
He witnessed horrific things during his time in maximum security prisons. Credit: Crime+Investigation

But on top of this ever-present threat of attack, there was a greater fear that weighed heavily on his shoulders.

"How long was I going to spend in prison? How much more of my life?" he said.

"I'd already lost all of my 20s in prison, I was in my 30s by the time my conviction was finally overturned.

"So the fear of never having children, the fear of never having a sexual relationship again. There were lots of different fears that made me scared in the time that I was in prison. Notwithstanding the kind of things I witnessed and experienced directly."

The convictions of the M25 Three were eventually overturned in 2000, and they were released.

Since then, Rowe has pieced his life back together and forged a successful career as a journalist, hosting shows such as Inside the World's Toughest Prisons on Netflix.

His latest project, British Injustice with Raphael Rowe, sees him examine the stories of miscarriage of justice victims like himself.

He is now a successful journalist. Credit: Crime+Investigation
He is now a successful journalist. Credit: Crime+Investigation

The two-part docuseries looks into the incarceration of the so-called 'Cardiff Newsagent Three', and the unjust conviction of two men who spent a combined total of more than 50 years behind bars for the murder of a betting shop manager in Liverpool.

Reflecting on what he hopes viewers take away from the series, Rowe said: "The first thing I want people to understand is that there are failures in our criminal justice system.

"Sometimes it's through design, sometimes it's deliberate, sometimes it's just incompetence on the behalf of the authorities.

"And secondly, there are human beings behind these [miscarriages of justice]. These are not just headlines, these are not just stories, there are real people being impacted by miscarriages of justice.

"And it goes way beyond the men or the women that end up in prison. It goes way beyond the victims that don't get justice.

"The ripple effect to the relatives of those that are wrongly imprisoned; to society as a whole, that we are under the belief that things have been put right when they haven't been put right; the threat that remains when a wrongful conviction takes place that somebody's still out there.

"So there are a number of things I hope people can take away from this series, but most importantly it's the kind of human impact that it has."

British Injustice with Raphael Rowe continues on Crime+Investigation on 30 May at 9pm and is available to stream on C+I PLAY and on demand.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Crime, TV and Film

Jake Massey
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