October 15, 2009
Well thanks to Lord Justice Hooper on September 17th at the court of appeal I made it out of the prison system, not without time.
The final nail that was hammered into the prosecutions ‘argument’ was when they could not name anybody that I was supposed to have conspired with, so my conviction was quashed there and then, at that point I was in disbelief so I bugged the screw who was sat next to me for absolute confirmation, he did a good job too there and then but of course my mind was still fixed on returning to the horrible shithole HMP Brixton so I saved the elation until I heard it from my barrister.
I got out of the court building after all the formalities of being released were complete, free train ticket in my grubby hand, left two bin bags of belongings behind at the court and asked them to be trashed, duvet, magazines etc I didn’t want to bring the stench of prison home with me, fuck that.
After thanking the legal team (Bindmans llp) it was straight to the pub across the road from the courts with a friend for a swift half before jumping into a taxi to Paddington station and the long ride back to where I belong.
The train couldn’t go fast enough for me. Once again listening to the incesant chat on mobile phones, stupid ring tones and people having conversation with people who weren’t on the train .. the usual impersonal bollocks that is the “technological age”, crap.
I did often ponder in those small hours in my various cell’s in various prison’s who I may have conspired with, Jesus? the holy ghost? Superman? all the mythical and religious figures came to mind, I settled on Jesus, we must have done a good job “together” to be in this predicament.
Myself and my now realised co-conspirator just got on with the sometimes dreary prison industrial estate existance but had plenty, and I’m mean plenty of laughs along the way with fellow inmates. I was never alone inside, not for a moment, someone was looking after me from day one right until the bitter end, of which I’m eternally grateful.
All in all I had seventeen padmates, yes seventeen over the sixteen months of my stay at HMP! These lads ranged from from a manic schizophrenic rastafarian who showed me the ropes early on to young ‘uns with attention deficit disorders to lads on suicide watch (I was’nt allowed a razor in the cell!) even a vegetarian who later went vegan for four and a half months whilst we were sharing a cell.
Another lad I met also took the vegan option after some enlightening conversations.
Prison is a dirty nasty ghetto which creates a mad atmosphere where everyone alleviates the boredom by taking the piss out of each other, playfighting, gambling, wheelin and dealin in whatever you can get your hands on etc, it’s like a huge social club where when you just let go and don’t get easily offended and accept others the time really does fly by.
This attitude helped me where it came to missing my loved ones. Some good friends were made along the way that I’ll never forget.
Two things I did nurture and develop in prison were tolerance and patience which I know will be with me for the rest of my days. You have to tolerate so many kinds of different people, their attitudes and ways, and you have to be so patient knowing that you’re in for a while plus the system is so deliberately slow in there.
The slightest ‘request’ takes days, weeks, sometimes months! So I did’nt ask for much at all unless it was an emergency which usually constituted a lack of toilet roll in the middle of the night!
Vegan Prisoner Support
To be a vegan in prison is tough at first but the place to be if you want to lose weight (I lost 1 1/4 stones) some prisons being well versed in vegan catering others obviously had a lack of vegan guests so had limited knowledge.
This situation is where the Vegan Prisoners Support Group really kick in and help educate the kitchen staff and governers as to what are the essential components of the vegan diet and do everything in their power to make sure you get what you need.
Here the VPSG truly are a mighty force backing you all the way, helping out whenever any difficulty arises regarding vegan issues. As well as the support from the VPSG there is of course The Vegan Society who also play an important role looking after your wellbeing whilst inside.
The Vegan Society would regularly send VEG 1 multivatimins which I’d pick up from reception where there would usually be a stand off between different screws on whether I was allowed them or not! Never the less I always came away with these ‘boosters’ and always had a good stash of them in my cell.
There’s so many people with heavy colds or flu in prison it’s hard for the average person to avoid falling ill, these ailments are like a constant pandemic on the inside, thankfully I avoided being constantly ill and put that down to my VEG 1 supplement!
In the early days before I started to recieve the supplement I did have one heavy dose of killer flu which lasted about a month and contracted a couple of styes around the eyes which are usually related to being run down which stood to good reason given my predicament.
When I arrived in HMP Stafford there was a couple of vegans I made contact with (fake ones at that only after the weekly vegan pack that could be exchanged for tobacco etc).
I recieved my first ‘vegan pack’ almost straight away and was horrified to see that included was only five small Alpro soya milks for the entire week! This is how it always had been in Stafford I learnt.
Seeing my health was on the line and that of any other real vegans in the prison I passed a message on to the VPSG who immediately took action and informed the prison that the recommended weekly amount is fourteen small Alpro soya milks.
The following week every pack had fourteen soya milks included, even the fake vegans could’nt believe their luck! That’s how it stayed in Stafford and still to this day (I imagine!!) ..the VPSG had changed things for the better.
The Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group also played a great part in ensuring that my stay at HMP was as comfortable as possible, enough said. They deserve a medal too!
It’s raining letters, cards, postcards and love!
Recieving visits was always the best and I had plenty of them throughout. All of my co-defendants from the conspiracy trial regularly visited, plus other faces from the Animal Liberation Movement and of course from my family which I cherished. I always held my head up high and buzzed for days on end after these visits. Visits in prison are the business no doubt about it and play a great part in a prisoners mental wellbeing.
The amount of correspondence I recieved in the three nicks I spent time at was phenominal, uplifting and essential! Some screws hated it as they delivered letter after letter under the cell door virtually on a daily basis. Poor bastards (not!).
“You’re very popular for a “convicted” criminal Kirtley” one sneered (little did he know where I’d be sitting now!) others just took the piss. The screws took the piss a but then again so did we which evened things out.
So I spent virtually all of my free time replying to every letter that I recieved. Luckily all my cell mates were happy that I could chat shit and write at the same time bless’ em! Thank you from the heart to everyone who wrote and even to those who thought about writing (but did’nt have the minerals – you know who you are! haha).
My personal account was always full of cash too thanks to constant generous donations from supporters.
I can just say the support from ‘the outside’ was incredible, so please, please pick up a pen and paper today and continue to support our comrades that are still ‘behind enemy lines’. You don’t know what a letter means until you’ve been in the prison environment, each letter gives that momentary burst of elation just when it’s needed and that’s exactly what we want our incarcerated brothers and sisters to feel every day.
Our non-human family behind enemy lines
Every few days in prison I’d sit silent in my cell and connect with those holed up inside the cells of laboratories, those imprisoned on factory farms, in zoos, circuses, fish farms, fur farms, you know the score. I’d look around me, see all my provisions, the coloured tv in the corner, the food in the cupboard, my bunk with it’s blankets, see my cell mate doing whatever and it just did’nt compare in the slightest to the hell that our non-human family suffer.
The ever present image and a haunting feeling of the nazi concentration camps was always present in my mind in regards to mass non-human animal incarceration and torture, which was a far cry from the situation I was in.
So at any point where I felt myself even beginning to feel sorry about my circumstances I’d knock it on the head and just say to myself “get fucking real”.
That never really stopped the occasional real tear from falling usually late at night when I was alone when I did contemplate ‘the non-human prisons’ and the torture of existance within these hell holes.
Human prison just does’nt even begin to compare…
Back on ‘the out
So I hoped I may have helped in some little way in explaining how I personally viewed prison and indeed how I learnt to cope day by day.
Since being out in the larger world again I’ve been spending loads of time with my partner, family, canine friend and human friends. Eating so much real vegan food it’s stupid. I’m going through about a loaf of wholegrain bread a day! and of course drinking my fair share of my fave beverage .. water (ok ok Special Brew! but not half as much as I consumed before the trial – that was just pre-trial nerves!)
There won’t be any compo coming my way as ‘fresh evidence’ wasn’t used to overturn my conviction so their purses remain stiched shut, no real surprise there. It rests in the hands of the court of appeal right now as to whether or not I can claim my pre-trial expenses back.
The campaign against Sequani vivisection labs continues to grow and get stronger, infact the authorities have made it so much stronger it seems by banging me up! New faces are now joining the campaign against animal torture on the Bromyard road in Ledbury. Things are looking up.
Thank you for your time in reading this and for your support, sincerly.
Love, Solidarity, Anarchy and Total Liberation!
September 17, 2009
Sean Kirtley was released today after his appeal today!
More information and statement from Sean very soon.
Thank you so much to everyone for supporting Sean, I know it meant the world to him and his family and friends.
Here’s to Sean for standing fast in the face of the state and its corrupt police force.
Looking forward to seeing you soon Sean!
January 6, 2009
Thanks for all your support during 2008, so far I have 82 xmas cards and counting, there isnt anywhere near enough room to put them up! I’m doing fine (well, could be better of course) in HMP Stafford, finished my two CLAIT I.T. courses and learned loads more about computers that I didn’t know, thanks HMP! Got well into playing pool, I love the game and am not too bad at it either. Still awaiting a decision on my appeal. I’m patient so waiting is no problem. I’m ‘padded’ up with a fellow vegan that I met in my last prison, Lucky eh?! All the very best for 2009. Masses of love to my beautiful partner, children and grandchildren and mum, and of course to you for your continued support. You are amazing!
Solidarity and respects,
December 18, 2008
Below is a letter received from Sean Kirtley to be used as an article for Gagged! More info about Sean’s case can be found here http://supportsean.wordpress.com and you can write to him at this address: Sean Kirtley WC 6977, HMP Stafford, 54 GAOL RD, Stafford, ST16 3AW (remember to send a SAE with your letter)
At 7:00am on May 9th 2006 police raided nine homes across the Midlands and subsequently arrested twelve activists over a 48 hour period. The door on my house had been so violently battered that there was only two shards of wood hanging of the remaining hinges. Police arrested me and spent nine hours searching the premises while my partner remained in the house, not pleasant at all. A megaphone, banners, thousands of leaflets, mobile phones, computer, digital camera, clothes, letters, discs were all seized as evidence of my involvement in the campaign against Sequani animal testing lab in Herefordshire. The others that were raided all had similar property seized.
After being charged and bailed for almost two years the case went to court in January 08 at Birmingham crown court. Seven of us were charged with ‘conspiracy to interfere with an animal research organisation’ and put on trail.
The bulk of the evidence against me related to the stop Sequani animal testing website, which I ran and my use of PGP email encryption and other privacy tools that were on my PC. It was suggested that I organised demos outside Sequani and companies that did business with Sequani although the SSAT website had a policy of not advertising demos! It was then suggested because of the amount of phone calls between myself and other defendants (phone logs submitted by the relevant telephone providers) that I must also have been ‘organising’ over the telephone. Even though the defendants were friends and friends call each other to chat and socialise. Even if I had been organising demos all were peaceful affairs anyway usually involving a mega phone or two and plenty of placards.
After an 18 week trial where the jury were bussed in from a secret location, the press and other reporters were banned from covering the case, police were ‘on guard’ outside the courtroom, where supporters were banned from wearing any animal welfare logos on clothing, the merest mention of experiments on animals at Sequani was outlawed. I was the only one to be found guilty of conspiracy after the jury had been out for many days deliberating. My appeal against sentence and conviction was launched on June 20th this year and has yet to be heard.
I was remanded to Winson Green prison in Birmingham on May 14th and sentenced at Coventry crown court on May 30th 08. The judge called me ‘a sinister criminal’ who ‘ has done nothing for my cause’ sentenced me to four and a half years in prison and imposed a five year supper ASBO on my release in August 2010 banning me from Herefordshire and from contacting Sequani for the duration.
The unlawful action that contravened section 145 SOCPA mentioned during the trial were:
· Lengthy and informative faxes had been sent to suppliers of Sequani during demos, there was no evidence to suggest that I or any other defendants had sent these faxes.
· Aggravated trespass had taken place at demos by defendants (including myself) standing in the car parks of suppliers even though there were police present, also entering buildings but leaving when asked to.
· Sequani workers, and workers of companies that supply Sequani had been ‘upset’ by the demos also a few neighbours in the vicinity of the lab had been ‘upset’ by the demos.
During prosecution evidence being given there was no suggestion that any ‘home demos’ or direct action’ had been at Sequani or its workers.
This was a campaign that had ‘upset’ those that are licensed by the home office to experiment on innocent, defenceless animals and because of that ‘upset’ I sit here in my cell writing this short recall of how I ended up here.
I’ve always fought for the oppressed whether human or non human, either by encouraging mutual aid or exposing the truth regarding the way we treat other sentient beings for our own selfish ends.
The support and outrage, inside and outside, continues to be brilliant, from supporters, family and friends and continues to get my through this time of repression.
‘If you aren’t being effective at changing the world for the better, they aren’t interested, if you are, be careful. The Future of the world is in your hands.’
August 21, 2008
Same prisoner number…
Sean Kirtley WC 6977
54 GAOL RD
FYI Seans Birthday is 11th December
Seans new prison does not allow stamps to be sent please include a Self Addressed envelope if you want a reply from Sean.
July 14, 2008
June 11, 2008
WARN have just made a press release regarding the Sequani Six and why Sean was incarcerated – Read more.
Sean Kirtley was sentenced to four and a half years by Judge Ross on Friday, Sean has done nothing but hold peaceful demonstrations against Sequani and its suppliers. He was identified as a main target by police as he updated the SSAT website and phone and internet records according to police showed a hierarchy and some form of organisation! (Which is clearly illegal now…)
On the same day, a mother who shopped her sons to the police are sentenced to two years for beating a father for no reason until he was blinded.
We live in a time when people like Michael Porter who was convicted of 24 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency on children – one of which was committed on an 18-month-old baby is a given a community rehabilitation order and a guy who holds a placard is locked away and treated as a terrorist!
Please show your support by writing to Sean at his new prison address:
Sean Kirtley WC 6977, HMP Blakenhurst, Hewell Lane, Redditch, B97 6QS
We have also designed some stencils for those willing to raise awareness of what has happened to Sean and our right to protest!