A SOUTHAMPTON woman who spent five years campaigning to save a Scottish man from death row has spoken of her relief as he returns home today.

Beth Currie, 34, joined the fight to free Kenny Richey after being inspired to help by Amnesty International.

Richey has spent 20 years in Ohio waiting to be executed for starting a fire in 1986 which killed two-year-old Cynthia Collins.

In spite of the fact two witnesses retracted statements claiming to have heard Richey making threats to burn down the Ohio flat and new evidence that the fire was probably started by accident, the 43-year-old was kept imprisoned for nearly half of his life.

The case struck a chord with accountant Beth, of Luccombe Road, Shirley, who helped Richey's former fiancee Karen Toley campaign for his release by writing letters to the governor of Ohio and the prosecutor.

She also raised £500 from auctioning off Richey's artwork of Scottish landscapes, boats and animals, on the Internet.

Beth even bought herself one piece, which hangs above her desk.

She said: "The picture is of a beach and seemed like something you would draw if you were in a 6ft cell.

"It's fantastic to hear he will be coming home. I am delighted. The people in the campaign never doubted his innocence.

"He has hundreds of supporters. What I did was a tiny part compared to others. It feels really good to know he has been freed.

"I've not written to him since he was taken off death row. I sent him birthday cards and Christmas cards to keep his spirits up.

"The money raised from his artwork was used for phone calls, which keeps you going on death row."

On his release Richey thanked supporters such as Beth who had tirelessly fought his corner against all the odds.

He said: "They tried to kill me, they tried to break me, and they nearly won. They nearly had me in that death chamber so many times, but in the end it's the truth that wins.

"I'll lie on my back in the grass and gaze at the big sky and feel the wind in my hair - what's left of it - and let out the biggest roar you've ever heard. And then I will start my life all over again."

Beth continues to campaign for prisoners facing the death penalty.

Currently she is joining hundreds of letter-writers to free John Spirko, one of the longest-serving inmates on death row.