Convicted Sunderland killer tells of his 27 Christmases behind bars

Frank Wilkinson... home for Christmas after 27 years.
Frank Wilkinson... home for Christmas after 27 years.
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A CONVICTED killer has lifted the lid on almost three decades of Christmases spent in prison – and he says they are not as lavish as people will have you believe.

At 27 years, Frank Wilkinson became one of Britain’s longest-serving prisoners after he was found guilty of the brutal hammer murder of Alan Raffle in 1985 – a crime that he still denies.

The 67-year-old could have been released more than a decade ago but was kept in jail because the parole board rarely release lifers who do not face-up to their conviction.

Having been released on licence earlier this year, Frank will be spending Christmas with his family at his home in Southwick.

He said: “I’ll probably have a good drink like everybody else.

“I will not be moving from my chair in the sitting room, and will expect people to be filling my glass up.”

It will be a far cry from nearly three decades spent incarcerated in prisons throughout the country.

Frank says that contrary to popular belief, prisoners do not enjoy a lavish Christmas feast and says many stay in their cells on Christmas Day, to keep their mind off the joyous celebrations they are excluded from back home.

He added: “If you look at the Christmas menu, it says turkey and sprouts, but you just get a slice of processed turkey.

“On paper it looks good, but in reality you wouldn’t really give it to your dog. People spend their own money trying to supplement the food as best they can.

“A lot of prisoners don’t want to think about home and spend the day locked in their cells so they don’t have to be reminded.

“There are no decorations, you get, maybe, a Christmas tree with three baubles, but they haven’t got any money.”

The body of 22-year-old Mr Raffle was found three months after his disappearance in Kielder Forest in Northumberland.

Frank’s co-defendant, Edward Wood, was cleared of the murder, which was alleged to have taken place because Mr Raffle failed to pay for a stolen car.

Frank has always denied having had anything to do with the murder but admits to having been “no saint”, and had previously served time for armed robbery.