A truly extraordinary story. Geoff Long was accused by his own daughter of sexually abusing her from the age of 8 until 16. Sentenced to 5 year’s imprisonment, his case seemed hopeless. Then his wife began to gather evidence that showed many of the claims against him were false, until his daughter retracted her words and admitted she had lied.
His story is one of unfathomable betrayal – it was only when Tina finally confessed in court in January that she had lied that the injustice of his conviction was revealed. While he had been locked up in jail he became haunted by thoughts that he might lose his new wife Louise and son James, and came close to suicide.
Talking about his ordeal for the first time, and with his voice cracking with emotion, Geoff, 67, says: ‘I cannot describe how it felt to stand and listen to my only daughter accuse me of paedophilia.
‘I had been advised by my legal team to try to remain impassive when Tina was giving evidence. But inside I wanted to scream the roof off. This was my own flesh and blood.’
It is a story that has its roots in the misery of family breakdown and, he believes, the jealousy he faced when he began to build a successful new life of his own.
His treatment is also an indictment of a justice system that even today seems clueless in the face of such allegations, whether true or otherwise. In the view of Geoff’s solicitor, it was ‘blindingly obvious’ that the claims against him were false. Yet an innocent man was subjected to four court appearances, including an appeal and two retrials, before his conviction was quashed.
…. That first night in Lewes prison was horrific, he recalls. ‘I lay there asking why, why, why? I’d had a stent fitted in my thigh after a heart attack and I thought about taking the plug out. Just bleeding to death.’