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Belfast-born man freed from prison in US after 1957 murder charge overturned

Jack McCullough was convicted of the crime in 2012 and served almost five years in prison.

Source: CNN/YouTube

A BELFAST-BORN man has been freed from prison in the United States after a conviction for a murder that happened in 1957 was overturned.

Jack McCullough, who lived in Belfast until he was seven before moving to the United States, was convicted of murdering seven-year-old Maria Ridulph in 2012.

In a ruling on Friday, a judge in Illinois overturned McCullough’s conviction, allowing him to go free.

According to the Chicago Tribune, McCullough today announced today that he will take legal action against the state of Illinois for the suffering he and his family endured while he served his prison term.

1957 Killing Jack McCullough appearing before the DeKalb County court on Friday Source: Danielle Guerra/Daily Chronicle via AP

The murder had been one of the oldest cold cases in the US justice system.

His release comes after the emergence of new evidence supporting McCullough’s innocence.

Speaking to CNN the 76-year-old said that he “didn’t think this day would come”.

“I was beginning to believe that I couldn’t get justice in Illinois,” he said.

I just never gave up. I knew I was innocent. I knew I had proof I was innocent, and I was going to make them see the proof, one way or another.

McCullough’s conviction had been based on him being identified as the man called Johnny who was thought to have abducted Maria Ridulph.

Then aged 18, McCullough had been known as John Tessier in 1957. He later changing his name after his mother passed away.

New phone records showed that McCullough had made collect calls from a phone booth in Rockford – a town 40 miles away – at the time that Maria had been abducted, according to the Associated Press.

McCullough is required to remain in Illinois until a formal decision is made on whether or not he will face a retrial.

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Also: Father makes emotional appeal to find son’s killer: ‘Why did they do that to Mark? He was harmless’

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