Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Killer Dryden Is Still Hoping to Be Free; 20 Years on, His Pals Say He Claims Provocation

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Killer Dryden Is Still Hoping to Be Free; 20 Years on, His Pals Say He Claims Provocation

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN WARBURTON

KILLER Albert Dryden's 19-year spell behind bars is today revealed in prison cell letters.

For nearly two decades the gunman has protested his innocence from inside the walls of some of Britain's most notorious jails.

Dryden speaks of life in the country's toughest lock-ups in a series of pen-pal letters.

Never-before-seen photos also show Dryden as he works at the spot where weeks later he would shoot bullets from a makeshift firearm.

The images - taken more than 20 years ago - show the gunman at the site where council worker Harry Collinson lost his life and two others were injured.

Taken just before his rampage was captured by TV cameraman, the pensioner is seen standing over a ditch. And today the killer's pals said they believed their friend was losing sense of reality, and fear he will never be released from prison.

Close friend John Snowdon spent five days with Dryden digging the trench that would spark his murderous attack 20 years ago today.

The 75-year-old, who lives on Adelphi Farm, Satley, County Durham, first met Dryden in 1968 when the pair worked in Consett.

He said: "I fear he will never get out. When you spend 20 years in prison it changes you - he's ruined because of it. He's changed a lot.

"He was a quiet bloke until he was provoked. He used to ring us every Saturday morning and, as far as I know, I think he's still trying to get out.

"He was good friends with me. The first thing I knew about it was when it came on the radio and I heard there was a commotion. I only found out properly later that night. Albert was eccentric, but he was harmless until that happened.

"He has been locked up for a long time - he was just 51 when that happened."

Dryden, now 72, has vowed to get his conviction overturned on the grounds that he was provoked.

In letters sent to his friends and loved ones, the pensioner has never taken full responsibility for his crime.

And in another he speaks of life behind bars of Acklington Prison in Northumberland. He declares: "I don't like the food here."

John said: "I remember him saying that he had served one year and he wouldn't be serving another. …

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