Dan Snow's History Hit
The Man Wrongfully Hanged at Cardiff Prison
In September 1952 Mahmood Hussein Mattan became the last to be executed at Cardiff Prison, but Mahmood had in fact been framed by the police and 70 years later South Wales Police formally apologised to his family for his wrongful conviction.
Mahmood originally hailed from Somalia and had been a merchant seaman who had ended up settling in Cardiff and marrying a Welsh woman called Laura Williams. They lived in the Tiger Bay district of Cardiff and had three children before their separation in 1950. Mahmood faced racism and discrimination and had several encounters with the police. His vocal distrust of the police had made him unpopular with the local force though and when Lily Volpert, a Cardiff shopkeeper, was found murdered and her shop robbed they quickly turned to Mahmood. Despite a lack of any firm evidence linking him to the crime, he became the prime suspect. He was poorly represented in court and facing a hostile jury he was convicted in July 1952 and sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out three months late. The case never went away though and his family kept the fight alive for 45 years until 1998 when his case was the first to be reviewed by the newly created Criminal Cases Review Commission. His conviction was quickly quashed but it was another 25 years before they received the apology they and Mahmood deserved.
To discuss Mahmood's case author Nadifa Mohamed joins Dan for this episode of the podcast. Her novel The Fortune Men, which has been longlisted for the Booker Prize, is based on the case and she immersed herself in Mahmoud's life and the history of Cardiff's multicultural Tiger Bay area to bring this story of injustice to life.
Please note that this episode contains mentions of racial trauma, slavery and violence.
The audio editor was Dougal Patmore.
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