Michelle Nicholson is the founder and director of Key Changes -Unlocking Women’s Potential. We’re delighted to have been asked to review Michelle’s book, ‘Without a voice’, a brave and candid account of the events that led up to her conviction for murder.
Michelle was just 22 years old when she was convicted of the murder of her father. As a single parent, rejected as a child by her schizophrenic mother she was desperate for love and happiness. This search for affection led her to become involved with a man she believed to be good and kind and someone who would give her and her daughter a better life. However, not long after meeting him, she ended up in the dock beside him at Sheffield Crown Court accused of the most horrific crime.
Michelle never denied being at the scene of the crime but stated that she had no idea that her father was going to be killed and was adamant that she played no part in his death. However, her voice went unheard and she was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 15 years.
From the minute she was taken into custody, Michelle protested her innocence and when she sat her parole board 14 years later, she told them the exact same story.
When I was arrested I thought the police would find evidence to prove that I was innocent. When they charged me, the most crushing thing was, how could anyone think that I could do a thing like that? I was absolutely devastated because I had lost my father then the double blow, they think I’ve done it. Before it happened I was just a single parent in a fairly poor community, just going to college and thinking about creating my own business and getting a better life for me and my daughter – then it all suddenly changed to everyone thinking that I’ve done this terrible crime. When the jury came back with the guilty verdict I was in complete and utter shock. I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t take it in. That shock continued for years”.
The book follows Michelle’s journey throughout her time in prison where she quickly realised how many women needed help rather than punishment through to her release and securing a job as a caseworker and going on to study for a degree in Social Science.
The book is searingly honest and Michelle doesn’t hold back when describing the details of her upbringing and the death of her father. At times, it’s an upsetting and difficult read especially when Michelle describes the social stigma facing already disadvantaged groups.
‘Without a voice’ exposes the complexities of the criminal justice system and the dramatic ongoing impact it can have on an individual’s life. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in criminal justice who wants to hear about the human side of the system.
Despite running a successful charity, twenty four years on, Michelle is still fighting to clear her name.
Reviewed by Debbie
‘Without a voice’ is available from Amazon in both paperback and e-reader versions.