Erwin James

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Erwin James, full name Erwin James Monahan (born 1957) is a convicted murderer and Guardian journalist. James was released in August 2004 having served 20 years of a life sentence.[1][2] While in prison he wrote a regular column, and continues to write as well as do charity work since his release. While in prison he did not receive fees for his articles; instead the fees were paid to the charity, the Prisoners' Advice Service, which had helped him.[3]

Background[edit]

For the majority of the time during which James wrote for the paper, the circumstances leading to his arrest and conviction were not revealed. In April 2009 his full name became public.[4] James had been convicted alongside his co-accused William Ross of murdering theatrical agent Greville Hallam and solicitor Angus Cochran in 1982. Hallam was found strangled in his home in London. Cochran died in a separate incident (which took place three months later) after being mugged.

Convictions[edit]

James and Ross both pleaded not guilty to murder on both charges, each blaming the other for the killings. Another man implicated in the murders, Paul Dunwell, avoided prosecution by agreeing to give evidence for the prosecution against the pair. James and Ross were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. William Ross remains in prison.

Following the murders, James fled to France and joined the French Foreign Legion, serving in Corsica. He was traced by Scotland Yard and, in August 1984, handed himself in to the British Consul in Nice.

The Old Bailey judge, Justice Otton, described James as "brutal, vicious and callous" and sentenced him to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years, subsequently increased to 20 years by the Home Secretary.[5]

Writing life[edit]

In January 2006, James wrote an article for G2, the Guardian daily supplement, recalling his time in the Legion.[6] In 2009 he admitted that he had fabricated the paragraph detailing his experiences in Beirut as he had not, in fact, served there.[7]

Of his crimes, Erwin wrote in his April 2009 apologia in the Guardian '​s G2 section that "my behaviour was unforgivable and I seek no forgiveness now."[4]

Published works[edit]

  • A Life Inside: A prisoner's notebook (2003)
  • The Home Stretch: From prison to parole (2005)
  • The Open University - Guest Speaker, "Does Prison Work?" (2005)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mayes, Ian (2003-08-02). "The inside story". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  2. ^ James, Erwin (2 October 2007). "Erwin James". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Mayes, Ian (19 May 2001). "Inside story". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ a b "The real me", Erwin James, The Guardian, Friday 24 April 2009
  5. ^ Katz, Ian (2009-04-24). "The Guardian and Erwin James". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  6. ^ The Guardian; Legion of honour; Erwin James; 13 January 2006
  7. ^ "Open door: The readers' editor on... truth and fiction in a writer's life story". The Guardian. 27 April 2009.