Tom Richey: 'He deserves the chance of a fresh start'

MANY people will find it understandably difficult to feel sympathy for Tom Richey or his brother Kenny.

Both ended up in Death Row in America having been convicted of heinous crimes. Kenny won a pardon in 2008 after 21 years and Tom is due to be released this year after spending 24 years behind bars for gunning down a shop worker while high on drugs.

When, on his release, Kenny announced his intention to return to his native Edinburgh the News warned rebuilding his life would not be easy and told him to keep his nose clean.

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But, due partly to his notoriety, he fell in with the wrong people and became involved in a series of unsavoury incidents, leading him to quit the city.

Today, Tom tells us he plans to learn from Kenny's experiences and speaks of his fear and anxiety over his plans to return "home" in a few months' time.

After years of silence, he has even received counsel from his brother; in short, Kenny told him not to make the same mistakes he did. It is a warning that Tom must heed if he is to stand any chance of building a normal life.

On the plus side, Tom has long acknowledged the seriousness of his crimes. In occasional correspondence with the News, he has repeatedly spoken of his contrition and his desire for a new life.

Those who mourn his victim will never forgive him. But, after 24 years, he deserves the chance of a fresh start.

Stamp this out

KEEPING the peace, even in a relatively safe city like Edinburgh, is no easy task. Police often encounter conflict as they go about their work.

It has to be a concern that the area's officers sustained 750 injuries in just over a year – even though not all were inflicted on frontline duties.

The fact that a number of them were bitten by members of the public is a clear demonstration of the scant regard that many have for the law and those who have to uphold it.

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What is even more worrying is that this appears part of a wider malaise which shows a growing lack of respect for frontline workers: fire crews attacked while on active duty; hospital staff verbally and physically abused as they attempt to treat patients; and ambulance workers hampered answering emergency calls.

This is not a situation that should be allowed to continue, and a zero tolerance policy must be adopted if such behaviour is to be stamped out.

Anyone prepared to attack or abuse members of the emergency services, including those upholding the law, must be subject to the full weight of it.