A Tribute to Dylan, written by Julie Price and Dennis Eady.

Dylan O’Brien is not a name that is instantly recognised in the miscarriages of justice arena, but his story will undoubtedly touch us all.  Dylan was at the core of the life of someone who is well-known, much loved and respected in this arena.

Someone who served eleven years in prison for a murder he did not commit, and where the real killer has still not been brought to justice.

Someone who, like many others, suffered in prison, shouting his innocence from the rooftops, frustrations falling on deaf ears.

Someone whose baby daughter died when he was in prison.

Someone who agitated for change, and who, when eventually freed, worked tirelessly on behalf of others to raise awareness of miscarriages of justice, travelling the length and breadth of the country giving his time to those who wanted to promote change, and giving a hard time to those who would not listen.

Someone who found it extremely difficult, as do all survivors of wrongful conviction, to adjust to ‘life after innocence’.

That ‘someone’ is Mike O’Brien of the infamous Cardiff Newsagent Three case, who is a great friend and supporter of university innocence projects.

Unlike many others, Mike was lucky to find a soulmate in Claire many years after his release from prison, and they married in 2009. Baby Dylan O’Brien was born in early 2010. Dylan’s face and personality presented to the world as an uncannily equal combination of his proud parents’ features and characteristics. Mike had renewed hope of a meaningful future, with Claire and his family (new and old) at his side. This new family, constantly fighting the demons that infiltrate miscarriage survivors, were given a new lease of life with Dylan’s arrival. Dylan (followed by his baby brother Dainton in late 2011) gave them a welcome release, which can only ever be partial, from the inevitable chains of trauma that for ever more shackle an innocent person wrongly convicted.

Cruelly, Dylan’s brief but adored life was tragically and unexpectedly cut short on Friday 15th June 2012, just a few months after his second birthday. Dylan died in his sleep.

Mike and Claire – this miscarriage of justice world is occupied by a diverse crowd, some of us choosing to be in it to varying degrees, but others without that choice. We don’t all always see eye-to-eye. But, at times like this, the word “community” is a meaningful one, and we think we can speak on behalf of that community when we say: We are thinking of you and your family at this most awful of times. We do not have any words that will offer you any comfort. We just want you to know that this community has you in its heart.

If there is a God, may he bless you, Dylan O’Brien.

Dennis and Julie (Cardiff Law School Innocence Project)                       

Profile photo of Jon Robins About Jon Robins
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award

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44 Comments

  • Margaret Gardener June 18, 2012 6:44 pm

    Mike and Claire – I am so sorry to hear of your loss as are all those at FASO. You have all suffered so much so I hope you will take a little comfort from those whose wishes are heartfelt and sincere. May your family pull throuh this added sad time.
    Margaret

  • Paul Mason June 18, 2012 6:57 pm

    Terrible news. My deepest sympathies to Mike and Claire

  • Lynnesquires June 18, 2012 7:11 pm

    Such sad, sad news from Julie today. I am sure that there is little any of us can say to bring your family comfort at this time. I hope that it helps to know that there are so many of us out here who are thinking of you all, blessing Dylan and offering you our unstinting support should you need it. Lynne (CILEx)

  • Wynford June 18, 2012 8:25 pm

    Mike & Claire, So sorry to hear of your sad loss, our deepest sympathies to you both .
    Wynford Joan & Richard

  • Anonymous June 18, 2012 8:36 pm

    Mike & Claire, So sorry to hear of your sad news, our deepest sympathy to you all..
    Wynford Joan & Richard

  • C Mcgourlay June 18, 2012 9:30 pm

    You are all in our thoughts . The Sheffield School of Law Innocence Project.

  • Dr Eamonn O’Neill June 18, 2012 11:05 pm

    This is simply horrific news. As the father of small boys myself I cannot even begin to imagine the anguish and terrible sense of loss Mike and Claire must be feeling. It is not fair. There is no sense behind it. I will say a prayer for the soul of this little innocent and remember the words that have helped me through dark times of loss in the past. They were quoted by RFK and come from Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

    My deepest condolences – Dr Eamonn O’Neill
    The University of Strathclyde Innocence Project.

  • Gloria Morrison June 19, 2012 7:13 am

    Such tragic news. Claire and Mike, no words can express our deepest sympathy – you and all your family are in our thoughts and hearts.
    Gloria Morrison
    JENGbA

  • Michael June 19, 2012 7:17 am

    Will be thinking of you and Dainton during the coming weeks.

  • Laura June 19, 2012 8:54 am

    Truly sad news and something that no parent should have to experience. I met Mike a number of times in the early days of the Cardiff University Innocence Project and found him to be a fantastically inspiring figure – I have never forgotten his story and the passion he showed us during that time. My thoughts are with you both during this horrible time. Laura

  • Phil Fennell June 19, 2012 9:06 am

    Dear Claire and Mike
    So sorry to hear the shocking news about Dylan. You and your family are all in our thoughts at this time of unimaginable pain and loss. Our deepest sympathy Vicky and Phil.

  • Louise Shorter, Inside Justice June 19, 2012 9:08 am

    I’m so sorry to hear of this terribly sad news. My deepest sympathies to Mike and Claire.

  • Emilymbolton June 19, 2012 9:09 am

    So sorry to hear this very, very sad news. I simply cannot imagine how you are going to get through the coming weeks, months and years without Dylan. Our thoughts are with you. – Emily Bolton.

  • Eric Allison June 19, 2012 10:21 am

    Dear Mike and Claire, Truly awful news and my heart goes out to you both.
    I trust you will, somehow, find the strength to see you both through this terrible time.
    Deepest sympathy, Eric Allison

  • Abbieroberts92 June 19, 2012 10:54 am

    Thinking of and praying for you at this sad time.

    Abbie Roberts
    SWAWC student committee member

  • Pat Brand June 19, 2012 11:21 am

    Mike and Claire, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Mike, I met you when you first came to Cardiff Law School to talk about your experiences following your release from prison. You were an inspiration to us all. To have this happen to your and your family after all you’ve been through is beyond words. Life indeed is not fair but I hope you will retain the wonderful spirit that you have displayed throughout past adversity, in this current one. Thinking of you.

  • Marika June 19, 2012 12:27 pm

    My deepest condolences to Mike and Claire at this difficult time. My thoughts are with you.

    Marika Henneberg
    Co-director University of Portsmouth Innocence Project

  • Paul Brand June 19, 2012 12:28 pm

    A sad loss after so much battling already. Best wishes from all the journalists at ITV News. Paul

  • Lydia June 19, 2012 1:20 pm

    So sorry for your loss Mike and Claire. Thoughts and hopes with you both, and your son Dianton. I hope you lots of support around you to help you through this difficult time.

    Lydia
    SWAWC

  • Rhiannon Hughes June 19, 2012 2:03 pm

    Dear Mike and Claire, I wish to express my deepest sympathy for your very sad loss. Although I cannot begin to imagine your despair, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Rhiannon Hughes – Cardiff Innocence Project

  • Samantha Howland June 19, 2012 2:09 pm

    Mike and Claire, I’m so sorry for your loss, my thoughts are with you. I remember Mike speaking at the first Cardiff Innocence week with such a fighting spirit, to have to go through everything you have, and now this is, is a reminder of how unjust this world can be.
    Sam, Cardiff Innocence Project

  • Greenwood Holly June 19, 2012 2:41 pm

    There are no words to describe the tragedy of this. I have worked on Cardiff Innocence Project for several years and have heard Mike speak of the incredible injustice he was subjected to, and found him truly inspirational.
    My thoughts are now with Mike and his family, I am so sorry to hear of your loss.
    With deepest sympathy,
    Holly Greenwood

  • Sarah HM June 19, 2012 2:47 pm

    Mike, you might not remember me but I was part of Cardiff’s innocence project during it’s busiest period from 2008 onwards. Your impassioned speech was one of the reasons I got involved in the project and once a member I had the pleasure of meeting you on a couple of occasions. I am so sorry that you have experienced what parents should never have to experience. On behalf of all Innocence Project students past and present I am terribly sorry for your loss and I know everyone is thinking of you and your family at this sad time.

  • Jaime Smith June 19, 2012 4:09 pm

    Mike, I am so sad to hear about poor Dylan. My thoughts are with you, Claire and Dainton at this terrible time.

    My deepest sympathies,
    Jaimé Smith, ex-Cardiff University Student

  • Brian Thornton June 19, 2012 4:24 pm

    This is absolutely devastating, tragic news. I’m so sorry that this has happened to you and your family. You have been an inspirational figure to all of us working in the area of miscarriages of justice – and we would all like to offer our sincere condolences on the loss of your beautiful son Dylan.

    Staff and students from the Winchester Innocence Project.

  • Sophia June 19, 2012 4:47 pm

    Dear Mike and Claire,

    So sorry to hear of your loss, I am thinking of you both and your family at this incredibly sad time. Life can be so cruel, but through the darkest of your days I hope you can take some contentment from these messages of support.

    Sophia Daw
    Cardiff Law School Innocence Officer 2011/12

  • Lindamprice June 19, 2012 7:36 pm

    so sad to hear this tragic news Mike. I am thinking and praying for you and Claire.
    Love linda

  • Charlie Martin June 19, 2012 8:00 pm

    Mike and Claire, I’m so sorry for your tragic loss. Thinking of you in these difficult times.

    Charlie Martin
    SWAWC student committee member, Cardiff Innocence Project member

  • Alanna Tregear June 19, 2012 8:32 pm

    This is such sad news, an experience no parent should have to go through. I was fortunate enough to meet mike when he spoke at the first Cardiff Law School Innocence week in 2011 and he was an inspiration. My thoughts are with Mike and Claire at this difficult time.
    Alanna
    Cardiff Law School Innocence Officer 2010/11 and SWAWC

  • Michelle Diskin June 19, 2012 9:06 pm

    Dear Michael and Claire…and all of the family. I am so terribly sorry for this devastating loss. We will keep you all in prayer. I know that no words came say what we really want to say. I can’t put my arms around you and cry with you. All I can do is hold you up to the Lord for comfort.

    Psalm 34:18
    The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    Michelle Diskin
    Barry George

  • Sandra Lean June 19, 2012 9:36 pm

    So very sorry, thinking of you and the family at such a sad time.

    Sandra

  • Claire obrien June 19, 2012 9:58 pm

    I would like to firstly thank Dennis and Julie for this tribute page my self and Michael are deeply touched by this.
    I would also like to thank each and every one of you for your kind comments

    Claire O’Brien

  • Alex Crabbe June 20, 2012 1:16 am

    Devastating news which only adds to a catalogue of misfortunes which has befallen the O’Brien family. Although I have never personally met Mike, his speaking during Cardiff Law School Innocence Week 2011 showed me that he is a strong individual, and I’m sure that his family will recover in time. My thoughts are with all of them, and I hope the messages here will offer some small consolation for their loss.
    Alex Crabbe,
    Cardiff Law School Innocence Officer 2012/13

  • Dom O’Brien June 20, 2012 11:52 am

    Sad to hear of this tragic loss, especially when you have had to deal with so much already.
    My Thoughts are with you and your family.

    Dominic O’Brien – Cardiff Innocence Project

  • Gailsaunders June 20, 2012 6:41 pm

    I was so sorry to hear this saddest news. Thinking of you and hoping that you will find the strength to help you through this tragedy.
    Gail Saunders

  • Kirsty June 21, 2012 8:17 am

    I just wanted to add my condolences and reiterate what many have already written. My thoughts are with you all at this very sad time.
    Kirsty Hudson

  • Julie and Rhodri Morgan June 21, 2012 9:59 am

    We were so shattered to hear of the death of Mike and Claire’s son Dylan. We have such respect for Mike after all that he has been though. He has made a new life for himself and his family. Our deepest sympathies to Mike and Claire.

    Please let us know if we can help in any way.

    Julie and Rhodri Morgan

  • Syann June 21, 2012 10:49 am

    Thinking of you at this sad time my heart goes to you all can only imagine the heart ache hear if you need to talk all my love
    Ann xxx

  • James Rimmer June 21, 2012 11:08 pm

    Mike, I was sincerely touched at hearing your story at the Innocence Week talk that I attended last year. I cannot imagine what you and your family must be feeling, but my deepest thoughts and prayers are with you and Claire at this difficult time.

    James

    Cardiff University Law Society, President 2011/2012

  • Damian Carney June 22, 2012 10:00 am

    On behalf of the students on the University of Portsmouth’s Innocence Project and myself, my deepest condolences to Mike and Claire. You will be in our thoughts during this sad time.

    Damian Carney

  • Claire obrien June 23, 2012 1:29 pm

    Just to let you know That Our Son Dylan Funeral is to take place on The 3rd of July at St francis Church in Ely at 11.30 am. He will them be buried at western Cemetery. The wake
    Will be held at The West end Social Club in Ely. Hope as many of you can make it. Cannot believe its been a week today that our wonderful son was taken away from us.

  • Esther_dickinson June 25, 2012 2:34 pm

    This world is full of corruptions and unneccesary suffering. Here we witness this suffering through the flaws and faults of the Criminal Justice System contrasted with the unfortunate loss of a young child’s life. Dylan O’Brien you were no doubt an absolute treasure to your parents and my thoughts are with you Mike and Claire.

    South Wales Against Wrongful Conviction Student Committee Member (Cardiff University) 2010- 2012

  • Jen Twinberrow June 25, 2012 7:51 pm

    Brian, Pat and Michael Attwool We cannot find the words to say how sorry to hear of your tragic loss.Our thoughts are with you and your family at this terrible time

  • Samuel June 28, 2012 2:25 pm

    Mike and Claire I would like to pass on my sincere condolences at this very difficult time. My thoughts are with you and the rest of your extended family.

    Sam
    Former student (Innocence 2009 -11 and SWAWC 2010-11)

Comments are closed.

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