'Mental torture' is how Peter describes five-month ordeal
'MENTAL TORTURE' is how Peter Angelo Doyle describes his ordeal of having to wait five months in the UK before being tried and cleared after almost €420,000 was found in a lorry he was driving last year.
Peter was stopped and his vehicle searched at Fishguard on July 25 last. 'I was brought to the police station and was questioned there and then 45 hours later I was put in prison for two weeks,' he said.
'I've no previous convictions for anything in my life and the next thing I know I ended up in a prison in Swansea for two weeks. It was a hell-hole, I wouldn't wish it on anyone,' said the 46-year-old lorry driver, who lives on the Redshire Road in Murrintown.
He said he 'nearly fainted' when first informed that there was over €400,000 in a bag in the back of the lorry he was driving. 'They had to put me sitting down and get me a glass of water,' said Peter.
He denied all knowledge of the cash and said that there was never any evidence linking him to it (including fingerprints or DNA), other than it being there.
He was released from prison over two weeks following his arrest in Fishguard after his sister Tilly, who lives in Holloway in London, put up bail of £25,000 for him. He also had to surrender his passport and driving licence.
Conditions of his bail were that he live with his sister and sign on at a local police station twice daily, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Peter said these conditions proved to be a nightmare.
'I could have had work, I had different options, but they refused to consider changing my bail conditions twice,' said Peter. He said he could have secured work in London and would not have had to leave the country as part of that work.
'My solicitor even proposed that I wear a tag and sign on at 7 p.m. every evening, but they wouldn't have that either,' he said. 'I was sitting in my sister's flat for the last five months doing nothing. The killing part was that I had work to go to if I wanted it.'
'I felt I was being treated like a criminal from the start - it was a nightmare,' said Peter. 'It was mental torture for me and my family at home.'
'I've never thought about suicide before, but I'll tell you something it was hard going and depressing. If I had to be sent back to prison...'
Peter is separated from his wife and they have three grown-up children, aged 22, 24 and 30. All four came to visit him in London. Peter said his children were ' back and forward every few weeks'.
He said this put a large cost on them, while he had no way of earning money and that he could have lost his home in Murrintown only for how his sister Tilly took over paying the mortgage and the bills for him, after already bailing him out and taking him in.
He said the stress of the case also weighted heavily on him and his family, despite his legal team's reassurances that he would be cleared. He said he lost over a stone in weight.
'I was confident in one way, but it was the jury's decision at the end of the day,' he said.
Peter said that the bag full of money remains a mystery. 'No-one knows where it came from. They had finger prints on the bag, but they weren't mine,' he said.
He feels they pursued the case against him, as it was too large a sum of money to simply let the matter go.
His passport and driving licence were returned to him in court last Thursday after the jury quickly reached its verdict and Peter came back to Wexford late that night, setting foot in his home county for the first time since he left Rosslare last July.
However, he returned to his sister's in London this week as he had to meet his legal team to prepare for a loss of earnings case against the Welsh authorities for the almost six months he couldn't work due to his arrest and the subsequent bail conditions.
'I won't sit back and let this lie,' he said. As well as the loss of earnings, Peter feels his future employment prospects are now badly affected by the case, even though he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
He wants to remain in the haulage industry and is actively seeking work again. 'I've been in the industry for over 20 years so I won't change now,' he said.