Martin Conmey says he drew strength from the release of the Guildford Four in 1989.
Forty years after he was wrongly convicted of manslaughter, he received an apology from the State.
Mr Conmey was convicted in 1973 of killing 19-year-old Una Lynskey, who had been a friend and neighbour in a tight-knit community outside Ratoath, Co Meath.
In the High Court yesterday, the State “unreservedly apologised” for the wrong done to him in what it accepts was a miscarriage of justice.
“The State regrets the pain and loss experienced by Mr Conmey as a result of his imprisonment and has taken steps to pay appropriate compensation to him,” State’s counsel Shane Murphy told the High Court.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner afterwards, Mr Conmey said he resolved to clear his name after seeing the Guildford Four released in the Old Bailey in 1989 after their convictions for IRA bombings were overturned.
“I’ll never forget that evening,” he said. “My son was only six months old and after seeing Gerry Conlon outside the Old Bailey I went into the kitchen crying, and Anne [his wife] asked me what was wrong. I said I’d clear my name, if not for me, then for my son.”
Ms Lynskey’s body was found in the Dublin Mountains six weeks after she disappeared in October 1971. Three locals, including Mr Conmey, became the focus of a Garda investigation.
Nine days after Ms Lynskey’s body was found, one of the three, Martin Kerrigan, was abducted by two of Ms Lynskey’s brothers. His body was found the next day near the same spot where their sister’s body had been found.
Mr Conmey and the third suspect, Dick Donnolly, were convicted of her manslaughter months after the Lynskeys and their cousin were convicted of Mr Kerrigan’s manslaughter.
The verdict against Mr Donnolly was overturned on appeal, but Mr Conmey spent three years in prison.
After the apology, Mr Conmey said some of his faith in the justice system had been restored.
“The wounds of 40 years take a long time to heal, but it hasn’t sunk it yet,” he said. “I don’t feel how I often imagined I would when I thought about this day coming, but it might just take time.”
Apart from his wife and son, he was accompanied in court yesterday by many of the friends and family, including Mr Donnolly, who stuck by him over the last 45 years.
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