Paddy Hill spent 16 years in prison for the 1974 IRA Birmingham pub bombings in which 21 people died.

One of the so-called Birmingham Six, the 71-year-old from Belfast, who now lives in Scotland, was freed on appeal in 1991.

He said: “My mother, god rest her, said, ‘don’t be bitter – it’s like a cancer that eats you up inside’. I said to my mother, ‘I’m not bitter against every police officer but the one thing I am bitter about are the ones who told us, ‘we know you didn’t do the bombings, we don’t give a f**k who done the bombings…we just want to keep the public off our gaffers’ backs and the gaffers off our backs.”

Hill describes horrifying treatment by police officers who “played football with my head” and “put a gun in my mouth and broke my teeth” to obtain a confession.

In prison he was considered to be “worse than murderers and paedophiles” and suffered regular beatings.

When he was finally released Hill said he was “in a terrible state” but was offered “no support, nothing”.

“I was dumped outside the Old Bailey just after four o’clock with £46 and that was f*****g it. I was on my own,” he said.

“I was never offered any help or rehabilitation or trauma counselling and I’d been diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the highest level, even higher than most soldiers.”

Hill was married with six children when he was jailed but by the time he was released his family had moved on.

He explained. “When I came out my wife had remarried and my children were adults and had children of their own. I tried to spend time with them but I felt like an intruder because they’d be talking about things I knew absolutely nothing about. I still see them now and again and there is no hard feelings.”

Hill eventually remarried but he has been unable to work since leaving prison.

He said: “I have had a number of breakdowns over the years. It’s like a big black cloud descends on you and there is nothing you can do to stop it. The more you fight it the harder it becomes.

“I just sit there and close down. I don’t communicate with anyone and I burst into to tears. Sometimes I cry for two or three days.”

Hill set up campaigning charity the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation in 2000. He added: “I have learned to cope in my own way, by campaigning for other innocent prisoners. We’re victims of the state and the state has never done anything for any of us.”