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By Mark Davey
The fiancée of pirate hunter, Billy Irving, freed from an Indian prison on Tuesday, with all charges dropped, thanked Campbeltown for its support.
Yvonne MacHugh, 29, speaking on Monday, after an Indian appeal judge exonerated the ex-paratrooper with a not guilty verdict on weapons charges, praised the ‘phenomenal support’ of Campbeltown friends right from the outset of the nightmare.
Ms MacHugh burst into tears when she received the news, by text message, as she waited to go on Victoria Darbyshire’s BBC2 show, that Billy is a free man and should be back in Scotland for Christmas.
Speaking exclusivly to the Courier, Ms MacHugh, said: ‘Campbeltown
people have been phenomenal right from day one, sending parcels, letters, cards and fundraising.
‘I cannot wait till Billy and I can visit and thank everyone personally.’
‘The Chennai Six have been acquitted of all charges and Billy is innocent – I am delighted.’
Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara has backed Yvonne’s campaign from the early days. On Monday he said: ‘Yvonne MacHugh has been an inspirational individual and has never relented.
‘I often wonder if today’s result would have come about had it not been for the pressure from Yvonne and the other families who were so badly affected by this.’
Billy was born in Appin and aged nine, moved to Campbeltown, where his father was a police sergeant. He became a piper and after growing up here left to join the army.
In November 2013, when Billy and 35 other crewmen from the MV Seaman Guard Ohio had been held in an Indian prison for a month, Yvonne first spoke to the Courier.
Her petition for Billy’s release had just 5,000 signatures. It went on to gain more than 400,000 calling for the release of the other British ex-servicemen.
In early 2014 friends from his days at Campbeltown Grammar School held a raffle and raised £3,500 in Billy’s benefit.
In January 2015, a year before Billy began the five year prison sentence, former Grammar school pals packed Victoria hall for a benefit gig.
Despite being in the final weeks of her pregnancy with Billy’s son William, Yvonne made it to the gig with her mum Jeannette.
At the time Yvonne said: ‘The people of Campbeltown have done more than anyone else for him.
‘It means so much to me that he has so many friends wanting to help.’
At the 2015 concert for Billy from left were: organisers Gail Brown and Alix Geyer, Yvonne MacHugh and her mother Jeanette, Billy’s brother Jamie and orgamiser Catriona McLean. 08_c05billy02
Billy Irving in the Indian ocean before his ordeal started. c47billy01no_cropped