A 57-year-old man flew home to the UK yesterday after spending over half his life on America's death row. Ian Bailey walked free from jail in Wickham County, Ohio, after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors over an arson attack in which a family of four and a housing officer died back in 1976.
At Heathrow Ian thanked all those who "never doubted my innocence" and said he was looking forward to "going back to the safety of Wales"
He told a group of reporters,
"You will never know how good it feels to be free at last. I always knew I hadn't done anything wrong. If it wasn't for my family I would have given up ages ago. I just can't wait to see them all again after all this time . To sleep in my own bed after 31 years, I have been dreaming about this moment for so long ".
'Ian the Innocent', as he has become known locally, planned to travel straight down to his brother's home near Cardiff. However in a bizarre twist police confirmed that Bailey was stopped at 16:10 on the M4 after driving at speeds in excess of 110 mph.
"Under normal circumstances", said Stephen Pritchard , Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police, "We would have arrested Mr Bailey due to the extremely dangerous nature of his driving. CT footage shows his car careering all over the motorway. However we do realise that these are extraordinary circumstances . One could understand his eagerness to get home after all these years. Things were very different back in 1976. Like forging a confession , speeding was not such a big deal back then. I am sure it will take him some time to adjust to the changes that have taken place in Britain since the mid 70's"
However the welcome home party did not quite go to plan after Ian was arrested for continually breaking the 'No Smoking' policy at 'The Railway Tavern' in his home town of St Fagan's. He spent the night at Her Majesty's pleasure in Cardiff . Police say that Bailey slept well and was looking forward to his release, 'any day now'.