The Crimes of John Massey: From Incarceration To Advocacy

John Massey, a British former convict, holds the record for the longest-serving prisoner in the United Kingdom. 

Having spent more than 43 years incarcerated, his infamous transgressions and numerous breakouts have established his notoriety.

Beginning with his initial conviction for the killing of a pub doorman, Massey’s narrative embodies a tale of reclamation, remorse, and perseverance. 

Let’s explore the life and transgressions of John Massey, tracing his transformation from convicted murderer to a free individual.

Homicide and Confinement

In 1975, Massey was implicated in a bar scuffle in Clapton, East London, which resulted in his companion being stabbed in the eye with a fractured bottle. 

This altercation ultimately drove Massey to commit murder. 

Subsequently, after escorting his injured companion to the hospital, Massey returned to the pub and fatally shot the doorman, Charlie Higgins, with a sawn-off shotgun. 

He was found guilty of murder and was handed a life sentence of 20 years. However, his sentence was prolonged due to multiple prison breakouts.

In 1994, Massey eluded confinement by escaping through a pub window during a supervised visit with his parents. He remained at large for three years in Spain before being extradited back to a UK penitentiary.

In 2007, Massey breached his parole conditions to visit his ailing father, leading to his second escape.

Subsequently, he was apprehended and returned to confinement. His third escape transpired in 2012 when he scaled the walls of Pentonville prison using a rope and a hook to visit his dying mother. 

Despite having his sentence extended by 23 years due to his escapes, Massey asserts that he does not regret any of them.

Life in Captivity

During his incarceration, Massey became recognized for his diverse skills and pursuits. 

He cultivated proficiency as an artist and author, penning a memoir titled ‘Redemption Song: My Journey from Murderer to Free Man.’ 

Massey emerged as a fervent advocate for the rights of prisoners and often drew attention from journalists seeking insights into life behind bars.

Owing to his high-risk status, Massey was transferred across numerous prisons throughout the UK.

Throughout his time in confinement, he encountered various tribulations, including conflicts and threats from fellow detainees. 

Nevertheless, he exhibited unyielding determination, garnering a reputation for his resilience and fortitude.

Life Post-Imprisonment

Following more than four decades behind bars, John Massey was finally released in 2018.

Despite mixed reactions to his freedom, Massey has been quietly appreciating his newfound liberty, relishing the simple pleasures of being unshackled.

Each morning, he dutifully makes his way to the nearby gym and regularly takes leisurely strolls through his community, embracing his newfound freedom.

The Channel 4 documentary – What Makes a Murderer

In November 2019, John Massey became the subject of a Channel 4 documentary titled “What Makes a Murderer.” 

The documentary delved into his life, interviewing him and conducting physical and psychological assessments to explore whether pre-existing factors contributed to his propensity for violence. 

The program disclosed that Massey had two specific brain abnormalities, combined with a childhood marked by abandonment at the age of three, which may have influenced his criminal behavior.

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