Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Cambridge Two are released on bail
Photo: Richie Andrew

Two Free For Now

Cambridge Two out on bail

24th July 2000 / Squall Download 5, July-Aug 2000, pg. 9.

The two charity workers jailed for supposedly allowing drug dealing in the homeless drop in centre where they worked were freed from prison on bail pending appeal on July 12.

Ruth Wyner and John Brock were given five and four year prison sentences respectively when as director and manager of the Wintercomfort Drop in Centre in Cambridge they were held responsible for heroin dealing amongst homeless people on the premises. The drop in centre operated an open door policy with cheap food for the homeless and offered help to anyone who needed it.

It took a police surveillance operation lasting several months to show that heroin dealing was going on in the premises. The prosecution argued that Wyner and Brock should have known about the dealing and should have informed police. The police operation involved 300 hours of footage shot from a secret camera across the road and involved two undercover officers posing as homeless persons Ed and Swampy, who claimed they had been offered heroin on eight of the twelve occasions they had visited the shelter.

The original trial judge asserted that the Wyner and Brock had operated the centre as a "haven for drug dealers". The prison sentences he gave the pair were longer than that given to most of the heroin dealers caught during the police surveillance operation.

The appeal court judge Lord Justice Rose sitting with Mr Justice Holman and Mr Justice Moses, granted leave to appeal on the grounds that the original trial judge (Judge Jonathan Haworth) wrongly prevented the jury from considering a key part of the pair's defence. Namely that heroin use is quite prevalent amongst homeless people and that the Brock and Wyner's role as charity workers would be severely compromised if they went to the police everytime they knew a homeless person was breaking the Misuse of Drugs Act.

John and Ruth served 207 days of their sentence before finally being freed on bail pending an appeal against the sentences to be heard in the autumn. John Brock suffered a nervous breakdown whilst in prison and is still being treated for depression. Both he and Ruth Wyner had their 50th birthday's whilst in prison.

After being freed on bail John Brock was cautiously relieved outside the High Court. Holding his wife and two sons he said: " I am very glad to be back with my family. The opportunity to be with them might be brief and so at the moment it's cautious celebration." He described the campaign to free them as a "lifeline" during his trauma filled time in Highpoint prison. His wife Louise, who has decorated their Cambridgeshire home with yellow ribbons told the assembled press: " I just want to take him home."

Ruth Wyner said: "I am looking forward to spending some precious time with my children and some private time with my husband. Now I just want to go home and have a decent cup of coffee."

The incredulous miscarriage of justice meted out against the Wyner and Brock may have been driven by an insidious agenda. Ruth Wyner in particular had been a prominent lobbyist on behalf of building a new permanent homelessness centre in Cambridge. She was instrumental in winning planning permission and a £400,000 lottery grant to build the shelter for 25 homeless people at Elizabeth Way opposite Midsummer Common in Cambridge. The plan was vigorously opposed by both local police and the well healed Cambridge residents in the area.

The campaign to clear the name is far from over with the appeal in autumn being the next step.

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