Moving On

After the breakdown of my marriage initially my mental state did not improve I was and still lucky to have amazing friends who helped me and I will forever be grateful to them

Part of my job was introducing new consultants and this is how my friendship with Craig began he was also married and I knew him and his wife from my group I had never once even looked at him and thought he was attractive if anything remember thinking what a lovely attractive couple him and his then wife made. Several months before I left my husband I was helping Craig set up his first group which meant we spent time together but at no point did I feel uncomfortable with this. Just after he opened his group we met one day in costa coffee which was often where a few of us consultants would meet to do work together one Tuesday morning he was visibly not himself I asked if he was ok and he said he was so I left it at that. Later that day he txt me to say he was distraught as his wife had suddenly told him she no longer loved him and wanted to separate i was totally shocked because they seemed solid even just a week before at a Halloween party I held for my social team they were the only couple there and I was envious of how ​​​together` they looked. After his had happened we often talked and he said his wife said she was suffering from depression and he seemed certain once she felt better it would blow over.

After this I was very worried about him and even told my husband how worried I was about him, I still wasn’t looking at him and thinking anything other than a friend. One day he told me how he was suffering with depression and had for a few years. I confided in him about my own depression and he was shocked that I could hide everything that went on in my life so well. It became easy to talk to him and he would talk to me in return.

After Christmas things settled down between Craig and his wife and because of how busy we both were I didn’t see as much of him ,I arranged for him to cover my groups in the middle of January  whilst I visited my daughter in Belgium he called me whilst I was in Belgium to say his wife had asked him to leave and he had moved in to his mums so could my husband meet him at group in the morning so he could use my kit as he had left without it

 

My marriage

I married my husband the father to my 2 youngest children in 2007 the day we married I was so very happy and although we had been together over 10yrs I loved him with all my heart even though at times things weren’t easy.

Whilst I was pregnant with our daughter in 1999 I discovered he had a friendship/affair with another woman to be honest it was the start of years of depression I long suspected he was having an affair. I was blissfully happy after our son was born and I was shocked to find myself pregnant before he was a year old, as soon as I was pregnant he started staying out late, being late home from work and generally being secretive. We began to have silent phone-calls which caused me a great deal of stress in the early months of pregnancy they  never happened whilst he was home but happened almost the minute he left the house, back then it wasn’t so easy to trace calls as it is now and BT suggested changing the number. The day the number was changed the phone-calls started again I worked evenings and didn’t arrive home till 1am and he told me that no phonically happened when I was out but yet I had given the new number to no one, so only he could be responsible for the calls. one evening I had my children to the brownies sports night with my elder daughter and pushing the pram with my  son in along the road with my older 2 walking beside me on a lovely summers evening my husband was standing outside where he was working talking to a woman and  as I approach I almost blinked and she was gone, I asked who she was and where she had gone and he made some excuse but I could tell he was lying. over a period of months whilst I was pregnant my partner had me think I was losing my mind and it was all in my head. when we were on holiday and I was 6mths pregnant he kept going to the call box but was very shifty when I found him there and asked who he was calling. Anyway with no firm proof at that time and three small children and a baby on the way  I accepted the situation. The day our daughter was born I was so happy but he was distant and I felt he wanted to be elsewhere I was later to find out he had rang his girlfriend from the hospital to let her know he was a father again.

Life was busy with our children I quickly had to go back to work after my daughters birth even though I had had a c section but money was so tight because gambling was a priority in his life. Our daughters christening day was the day it was confirmed he was/had been having an affair with someone called carol who was a married naval wife I spoke to her the day after the christening and the chat was intersting and made me feel sick to the stomach when she decided to share the details with me. I easily could have thought she was lying but why would I think that? she was basically confirming so many things I already knew. Our daughter at this point was 9mths old and our some just over 2 yrs old so why did I stay? a question I ask myself so often I felt I wouldn’t cope alone or rather he made me believe no one else would have me so I would spend my life alone and that scared me!. After this he was ok for a while and life was normal I was desperately unhappy but in time I just learnt to live with it but I couldn’t forget.

When he asked me to marry him I thought it would prove he loved me I didn’t hesitate in saying yes and I really did love him he was hard working and a good father even if all he ever did is make me feel small and shout at me for anything I did wrong,

We married abroad and I remember feeling incredibly happy and content at that time but I would say I never felt that I trusted him completely, my trust had been broken and because we had never really talked and dealt with it properly I found it difficult to move on. On the night of our wedding my mum looked after the children so we could an evening in the hotel together this was actually the first time since before our two children were born that we had an evening alone, we enjoyed our wedding night as most couples do but the following morning I went to breakfast alone as he refused saying he wasn’t hungry but I had to get up and collect the children from my mother so I sat downstairs drinking coffee with my hair still pinned up and wondering why he wouldn’t even get up and share breakfast with me the day after we vowed to spend the rest of our lives together.

I can’t say our marriage was all bad because it wasn’t but I did spend a lot of time alone and a lot of time feeling unloved, the year after we married we jointly bought a villa in turkey with my brother and his wife, it was agreed that we would spend as much time as possible there whilst the children were small over the years my husband rarely visited the villa but encouraged me to take them alone which I did along with a friend of mine. He then would turn things on me by saying I used the villa more than he did which indeed was true because I took the children alone like a single parent, I told him to take the children alone but he never would. I used to ring him every day and also send many txts in a day but I couldn’t make him happy he would still snipe at me because I was away but having encouraged me to go away I was often confused on what more I could do to please him

I discovered a breast lump and I have to say I was beside myself with worry as any mother would be I had to wait 2 wks for an appointment at the breast clinic but I didn’t get any support I took the children to school and then took myself of to the clinic alone whilst the room was full of husbands supporting their wives. The lump was thought to be suspicious and also the found a second lump that I didn’t know was there so after a scan and a mammogram they performed a needle biopsy on both breasts and told me to go and get a coffee and then come back for the results I was terrified to even ring him as I knew when I rang him at work how much he would shout at me so I chose the just sit there and wait to be called back in. The results of the biopsy were inconclusive and a core biopsy was preformed on both breasts which was incredibly painful and I needed stitches in both sides. The results were going to take 2 wks instead of one because it was over a bank holiday. When I got home I did ring him to let him know how I got on as usual I got very little support from him as he was busy. That night he came in from work jumped straight in the shower and then went straight out to play in a snooker match without even asking if I was ok. inside I felt I was dying from to total lack of love and support he showed me, but I was so worried that I had cancer I couldn’t think straight for the 2 wks awaiting the results which again I went on my own for and thankfully they turned out to be fine! relief was unbelievable

Another occasion was when I was called by the Anthony Nolan trust to say I had been matched to someone who was going to die without my help, I agreed to donate my stem cells which involved 2 trips to London and 5 days worth of injections to cause me to over produce stem cells in my bone marrow. The injections made me quite poorly and on day 4 after the injection was administered by a private nurse I went to London kings college hospital where the cells would be harvested my friend came with me because my husband wouldn’t be able to take time off work to come with me. after 2 days I returned home feeling elated and proud having saved someones life but also very sore and exhausted from the procedure. On the way back he rang to say that our

train  was later than he thought so he couldn’t pick us up as he was playing snooker.

things like this in the last few years became a regular occurance and although I know im not the easiest person to live with I did make an effort I always took care of myself making an effort to look good, keeping the house clean and tidy, working hard, being a good mother and trying to always make sure there was a decent meal on the table for him when he came in from work. Snooker took over his life and he would run in from work shouting often he was late to play and off he went people often saw it as a joke the way he went on.

After our sons arrest I tried so hard to battle depression but it was to much and almost 4 yrs on my depression is still something that dominates my life. initially my husband was as shocked as I was and I think both of us are good parents and we vowed to stand by our son. Looking back my husbands way of coping initially was to shut me out and spend as much time away from me as possible. my way of coping was to shut myself away and often spend hours upon hours crying sometimes screaming in empty rooms when I was alone. I became very insecure not wanting to be alone for any period of time and whilst my son was on bail terrified something would happen to him, my love for him scared me my tears would not stop and I couldn’t sleep for the fears I had. My husband used this time as an excuse to be out of the house even more and I craved him to spend some time with me but no matter how much I screamed and cried he would walk in shower and walk out. If I had been particularly distressed he would promise to return after his match at 10 ish instead of 12. Never without a fight though him saying he had no life because of me and I should be grateful he didn’t drink.

After my sons trial things got even worse we pulled together in from of the youth offending team and the secure centre but our marriage felt empty im not saying I didn’t love him of course he was the man I married but I was no longer in love with him and his constant shouting at me went from me wanting him to stay home with me and put me before the bookies or snooker to being happy that he had gone out so he couldn’t make my anxiety worse.

His shouting was at a point that I would literally beg him to stop because I couldn’t breathe and almost wish he would just hit me and then it would be over rather than him shouting the way he did, on evenings when I was alone I often took myself to be at night rather than sit on my own as sitting on my own my mind would be racing so it was easier to try and sleep I initially would sleep with the help of wine but then would wake at 2am and sit downstairs crying and thinking again alone until it was time to get up this left me mentally exhausted and often unable to think straight I was so tired. No matter how distressed I was and tired I worked hard often only getting through with the help of diazepam and then as soon as my working day was over collapsing in floods of tears but becoming an expert at putting on the brave face no could see through.

One I realised whilst son was being looked after in a secure unit that he didn’t care about me I started to then start not to care either I had no fight left in me for the last year when we were together after my son came home we didn’t argue as much because I stopped caring I rarely challenged him if he wanted to go out which could be 4 or 5 nights a week I just ignored it to the point where I would be surprised when he stayed home I had loved him with all my heart but once I accepted he no longer loved me there seemed little point in fighting. My son was to spend 1 year on licence which was equally as difficult for me due to my anxiety and depression.

I had little help from the doctors initially as I think I managed to make them believe although I was struggling making them believe I was ok. I was referred to talking therapies initially which I didn’t find helpful at all they were trying to get me to worry less about my son as this is where a lot of my distress came from but no one could ever make me worry less I was a mother whose child was taken by the police and our lives changed forever that day and I couldn’t then or now begin to come to terms with the events that followed.

Relate was the next step where I met with a lady who I reduced to tears when I told her my story in no way did I find that helpful

EMDR therapy this therapy focusses on eye movements desensitisation to get bad memories processed and forgotten the NHS is brilliant and I absolutely know how stretched they were. I found this to irregular to be of benefit and I worked myself up so much before a session she spent most of the time trying to calm me down. She then decided it was to traumatic to go through these memories at the present time.

My decision to leave my husband was not something I took lightly and looking back now I wish I had done things differently but I was weak and not in a good place mentally. I had secretly saved some money and the opportunity of a flat came up and I took it im so lucky to have some very supportive friends who have supported me from day 1 and continued to do so throughout my decision to leave in no way did they influence me but they supported me. I had been telling my husband for some time I wasn’t happy and I wanted to part but he ignored me and just presumed it would pass.

I told him I had found a flat and he again didn’t believe me and basically said that I didn’t have the guts to leave. I had hoped that we could tell our children together but he made it clear that would never happen my daughter came home one lunch time and I blurted it out and she left to go back to work and then broke down. I deeply regret the way I went about things at that time but mentally I wasn’t myself and I behaved in a selfish way not waiting I secretly hoped my children would come with me but deep down I knew they initially wouldn’t

 

 

 

Press

Having had no reason to be involved in the press before it came as quite a shock to me how much they can impact an already difficult situation.

The reports in the papers started that a vulnerable man had been killed by a teenage thug, how did they know he was a thug? whats the definition of thug? the definition is a ruffian, hoodlum,bullyboy,bandit,mugger,gangster,terroroist,gunman,murderer,killer,hitman,

assasin,hooligan,vandal.

After my sons arrest because he was only 16 his identity was protected and im forever thankful for that although local gossips quickly identified him and most local people knew who he was. Initially the papers reported there had been an arrest and then that someone had been charged with manslaughter which you could say was in the public interest but now with newspapers having social media sites it meant that people we able to comment on and share the story. At this point no evidence had been heard in court and my son had not been found guilty but yet because of the stories it allowed people to comment naming him and me in the comments. The newspapers were not allowed to print his name but a way around that is to allow comments to be made on the story and then not police it to have names removed.

The comments varied from  people who said they were there and were not, to certain people naming me and what I did for a living, a particular lady who had children at the same school as my son said she had had many an argument with me over my son being a bully this was totally untrue she had never spoken to me I had proof from the school that this had never happened and actually this mother was bared from the school for threatening staff!! but there was no one to remove her lies and so then this lady made friends with the family of the dead man citing my son had always been a problem and helped from their campaign some months later. my She also went on to say on this social media site who my nephew was and for anyone reading should keep their children away from any members of my family as they were all bad my heart broke because my nephews are both adorable and the thought people could judge my whole family . Also after the case a whole discussion attached to the papers facebook site stating my sister in law who is a solicitor must have done some kind of favour regarding her knickers for my son to have got such a low sentence.

Plea hearing was difficult as we knew the family and the press would be there, there is no area to keep us separate from the victims family and we weren’t allowed to have contact with them and even if I thought my son wasn’t to blame I wish we could have said sorry because I felt it just came across that we didn’t care and that was so far from the truth. Once inside the court the charge was read out the options were guilty or not guilty but it isn’t always as simple as that and although my son never ever denied he threw a punch and because of the circumstance’s the solicitor said it would be a not guilty plea because in the eyes of the law you are legally entitled to throw a punch if you even mistakenly believe you would be in danger yourself. There was also the post mortem result which had originally proved inconclusive for the cause of death and the second post mortem wasn’t back yet so the plea was not guilty.

Once outside the court the press ran after my son and were right in his face with cameras this was pointless because they couldn’t print them but they just printed them with his face blanked out. This again was shared repeatedly on social media naming us all with all the keyboard warriors going to town on town with comments.

Things settled down until the trial began with little being published in the papers but that didn’t last long the press started again outside the crown court even taking pictures of us entering the court. Once inside the court on that first day the reporter sat in the press box until the prosecutions opening statement was read out but left before the defence was read out the opening statements were completely different but yet accusations that were in the prosecution opening satatement were disproven by the judge but yet were the headlines in the papers for many weeks even after the trial ended.

I do understand that newspapers need to print stories that are in the public interest but once the journalists decide on a specific case they will not leave you alone. In my sons case it was reported every day of the trial with most days being front page and then almost every day for 3 weeks after the trial they obviously reported the guilty verdict, they then picked on the fact that he was allowed to go home for a week whilst the sentence was decided, then because he got a lower sentence, then the family stories each one of these stories then appeared on social media so for what felt months people were commenting for my son to be hung, that is heart breaking to read.

A few weeks after my sons case another one punch case nearby where the culprit had been much older and had many previous convictions only made page 8 on one day, how is that not more of an interest to the public than my sons case? my son had no violent past he came from a loving home and was out playing football with his friends on the night this happened and he threw one punch, I do believe my father brother and husband have all thrown a punch in their life so this could easily have been them. I have never condoned violence of any kind and I would never say or indicate this man deserved to die and I know and accept my son threw that punch but it isn’t fair what the press did I will never believe a word written in a newspaper.

In the judges sentencing report it was stated that because of the way the press acted towards my son his anonymity would be protected for life the judge saidI am aware there has been reports made in the newspapers which bears little resemblance to the facts established at your trial , I do think it got the backs up off the reporter because I think he had his pictures and story ready for the sentencing day so when he still wasn’t allowed to print could be on of the reasons they continued to campaign for him to be named. The stories went on that the family were appealing because of my sons low sentence which again fuelled the keyboard warriors on social media. The case ended up not being referred to the appeal court because my sons sentence was in line with what is recommended.

I did complain to the press standards agency and at first it seemed like the papers would need to apologise and the paper did contact me and it seems that the things we complained about were allowed to be printed because it had been suggested by the prosecution although subsequently proven to be untrue. There is also no law that a story has to be told from both sides as a member of the public this realisation shocked me that basically the press decide which side they want to print and as the public we don’t have a right to read both sides. I wont ever believe a word written by any journalist ever again it is sickening

 

friends or Enemies

On the day of the arrest the police took my phone and my laptop and the reason for this is still unclear as there was never any indication that my son had any access to them but it was the last I saw of them for 8mths and they were never used in evidence. Taking my means of communication meant I couldn’t contact anyone initially as all my contact were in my phone.

Later that same evening once the police insisted we went home to rest I used my husbands phone and contacted my best friend and also my boss. My best friend was in shock as she had been particularly close to my son and we often holidayed together. I contacted my other friend via facebook and another friend by phone. That night I sat drinking wine shaking and crying. My sister in law was still in the police station with my son and my brother was doing his best to comfort me but even in my own despair I could see the pain in his eyes worrying about me his little sister and his nephew. When my sister in law returned she explained what was happening and that my son would be interviewed again the following morning.

She told us that although he was very upset he was coping although I think she told us that to try and calm me down, I do appreciate looking back how incredibly difficult it was for her and I will never be able to repay her kindness over the 6mths to come. My brother and his wife left late that night and I don’t think I closed my eyes the tears just kept coming. I don’t think my husband and myself felt able to comfort each other and it became obvious that we dealt with things completely differently.

I count myself lucky that I have a small group of amazing friends even before this happened through any bad times in my life I have 100% trust in them. Between September and Christmas I never left the house alone always one of them was with me keeping an eye making sure I was ok and coping with whatever situation I found myself in. luckily my friend was on sick leave from the civil service and it meant she spent a lot of time with me and another friend worked mornings only and my best friend had 2 days of a week. Every morning my elderly neighbour would call and check I was ok and if I needed anything she would fetch it.

The doctor had prescribed diazepam and anti depressants’ to help me but the diazepam were to be used before a court appearance or whilst I was working which seems bizarre but in the early days it enabled me to keep working and although my friends were always in the background I often had to talk to groups of up to 100 people it helped me continue with that. I know lots of people who have found out what has been going on were shocked and surprised  because for each session I did at work I knew in my head I could collapse in a heap and cry as long as all my clients had left. quite a lot of my work is also behind a computer screen so as long as I typed the correct things no one actually knew the state I was in.

Within a few days of my son being granted bail I went to get a new phone as the police just kept saying I could have mine but then not letting us have it so I got a new one thank goodness for icloud I didn’t loose any contacts as I needed a phone to run my business. Once I got my new phone home and set upe some text messages came through that had been sent to me following my sons arrest.

One in particular was a nice message from a client of mine offering her support as her then partner was a friend of my family I thought it nice that she had bothered to send it and said if I ever needed to talk she was there, I didn’t reply for a few days but then I decided that I should I thanked her for the text and for her support and left it at that as I didn’t really want to go in to details about what had happened. She text frequently in the early days always enquiring after me and my son which I thought kind but really I had my friends who I knew were looking out for me. A few times late at night she would message me on facebook and we would chat, I told her of my fears for my son and she would trawl the internet looking for news report on the case and sending them to me in case I hadn’t seen them. I did at times find her interest in me and my son odd and quite overpowering so I tried to distance myself from her but her txt and facebook messages continued. She started saying to me that I wasn’t safe to be alone or go anywhere alone as she knew the family of the man my son had killed we going to get justice and were after me and my younger child. When I saw her in a work capacity she would have bruises on her arms and once even a black eye and would squirm in pain when sitting down and standing up but would at first not tell me how she got injured. I would see her whispering to others and it all made me feel very uneasy. She knew I often went out to the wine bars nearby on Saturday afternoons with my close friends but I would be taken down and picked back up and we would sit quietly in a corner she started asking me question about my afternoons out with my friends and again I felt uneasy she then would txt me or call me and tell me it wasn’t safe for me to be out after dark this was adding to my anxiety levels but at this point I wasn’t telling anyone what she was doing because I felt no one would believe me.

One Saturday night she txt me very late and said she needed to talk to me she said she was out but had to speak to me that night, I told her it was ok to come to the house as me and my husband were still up, I had been drinking but still knew what was going on I had maybe drank 3 glasses of wine but she had been drinking vodka and we offered her a drink she sat down and started to tell us that all her bruises were off protecting me and my younger child so she was taking the beating for us, I really was very upset but something didn’t feel right I just felt she was lying but I had no way of proving it. My husband sitting next to me seemed utterly convinced or so I thought, then she appeared to be getting txt messages and then phonecalls we were sitting opposite her and she was telling us what was going on regarding the threats. on one particular call I could see her phone as she was getting careless with it because of the alcohol she had consumed and I could clearly see her phone was on the iphone locked home screen and there was no one on the phone. I sat there wondering why she was doing this and I thought maybe she was jealous of me but for the life or me I couldn’t understand why anyone would be jealous of what we were going  through. As time went on she kept up this charade but eventually the fake calls ended and I rang her a taxi. My husband would normally take any visitors home that came to our house but I felt he shouldn’t because I was beginning to realise she was a compulsive liar and I didn’t want my husband getting accused of anything.

From this moment I knew she was lying so I tried to distance myself even more but she didn’t make it easy she persistently txt and rang me and I really didn’t know what to do. One night a mutual friend of ours that she had befriended because of me invited a few of us round for a curry  she had recently had a marriage breakdown herself and I felt I couldn’t refuse luckily my best friend had also been invited and I had told her what was going on and she didn’t doubt what I was saying luckily but neither of us had any idea of how to deal with it. I have never been any good with confrontation plus I also worried about anything I had told her about the court case which I didn’t think I had but I was extremely worried about this. The evening was ok but again it turned to her phone where she was letting me glance at text messages from someone threatening her for supposedly sticking up for me and my family. My best friend is my biggest critic but she is also my biggest fan and protector managed to get the phone for a matter of seconds and put in to her phone the number the texts were coming from I was unaware she was doing it she did it so fast. That night she was trying to get me to continue drinking with her and although I didn’t want to after my best friend was dropped off first  she got out of the taxi at my house  and asked them to come back in an hour at this point I was so frustrated that I could just say to her to go away as I knew what she was doing but my fears at the time were for my son and also for my business as I felt she knew more about my life than she should. Once we got in to the house my friend txt me to tell me she got the number from her phone and it was her own number she had been txting herself!! she had been for weeks showing me these txts I was now so scared, I had been becoming increasingly anxious and there I was sitting with someone who was doing her best to send me round the twist and I had no clue what to do. I attempted to distance myself further which proved difficult as she had befriended people to do with my job and especially a good friend of mine who had recently been diagnosed as having breast cancer she was being especially friendly to my friend I really was in a position as I didn’t know what to do for the best. Before long she was telling me that she had appointments as they thought she had something wrong with her but at the same time telling my friend that she had also been diagnosed with cancer. At this point she hadn’t told me but said she was getting the results on a particular day whilst I was going to be on holiday, I was pretty sure she was lying but again I couldn’t t be 100% sure. Whilst I was on holiday the text messages continued keeping up the pretence that she waiting on the test results that she was already telling others she had received. A couple of times she face timed me weeping and wailing down the phone and eventually saying she had her test results telling her she had cancer I was finding it hard to be sympathetic as I was sure it was all a lie. Once I returned home i had a organised a fund raiser for my other friend and we raised over five thousand pounds for breast cancer research I enjoyed doing it as it gave me a focus and I was really proud of the money we had raised but even before the night and on the night she was making little comments to me how I cared about my other friend more than her and how I should be raising money for more than 1 type of cancer as hers was cervical but in the next breath she was not telling people she had it just a couple of people connected to me. After the fundraiser I made a decision that I would just ignore her as best I could I the hope she would get bored and leave me alone.

Once I stopped giving her any attention it all went quiet she stopped attending my group as a client so I started to relax although not entirely happy about my friend who actually did have breast cancer but even in a weird type of way she was supporting her.

For several months I allowed it to continue as I really had no strength to deal with it I just hid away. Im ashamed to this day that I didn’t find the strength sooner than I did because although my friends believed me and knew what was going on I was so scared of her not physically scared but mentally I felt she was playing sick  games with me.

I also found out that many years before she had lied to lots of people about having leukaemia  but again how could I prove it?s

I was having a gathering at my friends house because she was the caretaker of the TA centre as a thank you to the people who helped me at my groups, I love to cook so I said I would cook for the 30 people who were attending I have always found cooking quite therapeutic, the evening was a great success everyone enjoyed the curries, paellas and the party games and some people drank more than others. She was invited as it had been arranged for a while and as one of the people who were helping me I couldn’t really get out of it but with so many other people there I didn’t really need to have much to do with her. The end of the night came and taxis were ordered and off she went with others. She contacted me the next day and said after she got home her ex partner was babysiting and he had violently raped her after she had done on many occasions before. It is her ex partner who is a friend of my family and they has only split up some months before I would never want to accuse any woman of lying when they say something so horrific as being raped but I didn’t believe a word of it.

One Saturday evening I spoke to a member of my team who I hadn’t seen for a week or so and I asked her if she was ok and it all came out she told me she couldn’t be around this lady because for months the phone calls and messages had been so persistent they were making her ill, at this point I had no idea that the phonecalls and messages were all about me. She said she wasn’t the only one it was happening too and was sorry for telling me when she knew how much I had on my plate already, I felt so guilty that I had introduced all of these people but yet she was affecting us all in this way I arranged to meet with the 2 people that she had been recently focusing on but nothing could prepare me for what they were telling me.

From the day she found out about my son she had been letting everyone know on a daily basis what was happening with his bail the court case etc when in fact im not sure she really knew much because im quite a private person but I had worried myself that maybe she had read witness statements when I was out of the room. She had told everyone at my groups she was my best friend and that I was wrecking her life with my constant drink binges constant texting and phone calls. She told people many stories about me and how I shouldn’t be allowed to be a mother I wasn’t cooking cleaning or looking after my daughter, she also said she had no idea how I could continue to work as she was at my house till 5 am in the mornings often having to shower me as I was so drunk. None of this was true as I really am a stickler for personal hygiene and my appearance a bit of lippy can make me feel like I rule the world!!!she said I didn’t cook for my daughter which is particularly insulting as I love to cook and amongst my friends they know if they need fed just to stop by my house I will always provide them with a meal so her saying I didn’t or wasn’t capable of cooking very upsetting. On Thursdays I would leave for work at 7.45am and no matter what even on the worst days I would shower put a full face of makeup and dress smartly so to find out she was saying she had to shower me was bad enough but she told my clients she didn’t know how I looked so alive as she had been trying to prize a vodka bottle out of my hand till 5 am that morning!

At my groups there were several people who were helping me but also talking about my sons case and various other things about my life I felt weak and unable to deal with any of them but it does not mean I didn’t know who they were. to this day I know the people who added to my stress back then and those who genuinely cared about me and my family. it never fails to amaze me how some people can almost glee in delight at someone else misery and the lengths people will go to in an attempt to have my life!

I would now say to each and everyone of them

‘before you judge me by my life my past or my character…. walk in my shoes walk the path I have traveled live my sorrow, my doubts, my fear, my pain, and my laughter….

REMEMBER Everyone has a story when you have lived my life then you can judge me

I was so angry at the time of all this happening in my place of work but angry was a good emotion for me as for months all I had felt was fear and despair. After the ladies told me what she was doing in my group I decided there was no way I was going to allow her to do to others what she had done to me and almost immediately she stopped contacting me or the other ladies I don’t know if all of a sudden she realised our cold attitude towards her meant she had been rumbled. Her relationship had broken down months before and it as her ex partner who had been a friend of my family for 30yrs I asked if he would meet me and he confirmed what I already knew that she was lying and lied about almost everything in life.  I was enjoying not having contact with her although the scars of what she had done to me were still evident in how scared I was to go out or even be alone at home. My friend who genuinely does have breast cancer contacted me and asked if me and my other friend would like to go to lunch with her, I was hesitant as I had distanced myself even from her because I felt guilty for not being able to tell her what was going on but she was in the middle of chemotherapy it wouldn’t be fair on her. Out of the blue she said in a text was it ok if she invited * I panicked but my other friend who was coming along too said there would be no way she would have the brass neck to come in case we let the cat out of the bag and she w1as right she didn’t come. Half way through our meal and out of the blue my friend with breast cancer  said almost in a light humoured way `what has happened between you and *` Although I had no intention of telling my friend I also wasn’t prepared to lie my pet hate is liars and she wasn’t turning me in to one so I began at the beginning but unfortunately my friend said that she did have cancer and seemed to disbelieve me and said look at how much she had stuck up for me with the family of the dead man my other friend backed up everything I was saying and before we parted company I think she believed us although she was in shock and felt like we did in the early days. She decided she would do as we had done which is distance herself from her but I still wasn’t convinced she 100% believed us which made incredibly sad as our friendship has certainly suffered and I know she is still friends with the person on facebook but that is now out of my hands I have tried.

I contacted her ex partner after bumping in to his sister and talking to her about it, she confirmed she was definitely lying about the cancer and many other things. I asked him if he would meet me and he readily agreed. When we met I started to tell him what had been going on and he shook his head and almost hung his head in shame that she had been tormenting me in such a way, he didn’t doubt anything I was telling him and I took comfort in that as we had been friends such a long time. It took such a lot for me to talk to him as I was in a bubble of only trusting those who had been round me from the beginning because look what happened when I let someone else in to my life. I told him that he had a right to know the things he was saying about him and that he had repeatedly raped her and one of the dates was the night of my party. He surprised me by telling me she had returned from my party again covered in bruises on her legs and thighs telling she had been raped after my party by someone called * . I felt sick because the only man at the party by that name was my eldest son who was home on leave from the Air Force . I assured him that my son had only dropped in for a short amount of time and left with my husband, she never confronted me with this allegation or repeated it to anyone else. I know my son was not alone with her even for a second but this was even more scary for me as I wasn’t sure when this was going to stop. I wish I had wrote a diary of all the things this woman did to me as im not sure I am able to fully remember everything or give a good enough account of how it has affected me. I wish now I had went to the police as I still do have messages proving all the things she was saying about taking beatings on my behalf etc. I think she knew how scared I was of the police so maybe she knew I wouldn’t report it. Hatred is a thing I don’t often feel about anyone as I do think im a caring loving person but I can honestly say I hate this woman hopefully one day as I get stronger those feelings will pass as I do believe she has mental health issues I mean no normal person would do the things she did but at the moment I don’t feel sympathy just pure hatred.

 

 

 

 

Dec – March

From the court appearance where my son had plead not guilty to the charge of manslaughter the next few months passed in a blur, Christmas had never been my favourite time of year but whilst the kids were young it was easy to appear to enjoy for the sake of them. This year was more difficult than ever what shopping I did was mainly online and no matter how hard I tried because i didn’t know what was going to happen to my son

Christmas morning was spent all together my eldest son had recently been sent home from his posting abroad because of stress I think the obvious worries about his brother contributed to his stress but he was also massively worried about me because he knew I wasn’t coping as my days were spent crying and as much as I tried not to cry when he called me I found it impossible to hide my distress. My eldest daughter was also home for Christmas but again I know we were all together but I knew the reason for this so it hung over us like a dark shadow all day

The court had given us an extension to my sons curfew for Christmas day only as we were spending the day with my brother sister in law and their 3 children. My son was allowed only to their address accompanied by us till 10pm so it enabled us to do what we would normally do on Christmas day playing board games with all 7 of the kids even though most of them are now grown up. I was grateful for the opportunity of spending Christmas together but I knew it could be the last one for up to 15years this is something that just persistently went through my head all day making it impossible to relax and enjoy myself 2 years on even sitting here writing this im sobbing.

One day I really hope that the tears and the distress will go and life could continue without waking up thinking about it and going to sleep thinking about it. on that Christmas day the only person that actually enjoyed Chrsitmas was my brothers youngest son who we all ,he knew something was wrong but he didn’t know what so we did all try hard to keep him happy an distracted from the issues we had as an  adult I know how hard it was to cope with what was going on I couldn’t imagine a 9yr old boys feelings.

New year again was so different we all spent it together at home but found it difficult to celebrate we knew 2014 hadn’t been a good year but had no idea if 2015 would bring better things. We had some friends round and I made a lovely meal for everyone but no matter how nice the meal we knew the future was going to be tough. January is a very busy month for me workwise and also all the appointments to do with the case it really did pass in a blur.

Once new year passed and the court case approached my panic and anxiety were at an all time high I didn’t sleep much and when I did I was woken by the most terrifying nightmares that I was scared to try and get to sleep, I know my son wasn’t sleeping because I would often go in his room to watch him sleep to find him lying awake too I wished so much I could make things better but I was helpless. My eldest daughters birthday was at the end of February and we got permission to take our son away for 1 night to see her as she was living in Glasgow at this point and we wanted to take our son back to where he was born and visit my husbands family as we didn’t know how long it would be until we got the opportunity again. We drove up on Saturday morning and had to return by 7 pm on the Sunday night we did a lot in that time but really it was spending time with him and our eldest daughter and younger daughter. We tried to enjoy our night away but my head throbbed from the stress and my eyes stung trying not to cry I know it caused my son distress to see me upset but I couldn’t help the emotion I felt.

I used to day dream a lot often for hours at a time during the day when my husband was at work where I would invent in my head that none of this had ever happened and all happy thoughts and then bang I would realise it was just wishful thinking. My husband and I by this point rarely talked about it and he spent more time out of the house than in the house so I could never share my feelings with him. I would go over and over things and if I tried to talk he wasn’t interested and blames me for being negative when I had to think of the good things that could happen at the trial but I had to be realistic and also had to think of the things that could happen as in if he was found guilty! as a mother it was the worst fear imaginable and I really needed to talk about it out loud and know someone would listen and tell me things would be ok but they never did

 

Bail

My sons plea hearing was scheduled for 18th December, having never dealt with the criminal justice system in my life it just surprised me how out of my depth I felt.

Life had changed in a few short weeks beyond recognition and it wasn’t that I wasn’t sorry for what had happened as I was and to this day I believe life as I knew it as gone forever and part of my own recovery is accepting that but that’s another story.

My son needed support to accept what had happened and the consequences of it he had went from being an average kid at college to everyone knowing who he was even though he wasn’t named in the newspapers people where we lived knew it was him. He was no longer at college as he was thrown out immediately once he was charged so life for him was curfew every night and day time he slept most of the time in an effort to shut out what had happened. His best friend was also a prosecution witness and although his statement wasn’t any different from my sons they were not allowed any contact and this was hard on my son but also for us as he was like a second son to me and I missed him I also didn’t know if he was ok. I Managed to get my son counselling from an organisation called streetwise which is an organisation for young people so in addition to youth offending appointments doctors appointments psychologist appointment and solicitor appointments and work my diary was full. It helped me immensely to keep busy in those early days and although I had been prescribed  diazepam and anti depressants  different ones sometimes without a sedative and I didn’t sleep at all and sometimes with where I felt I was existing during the day but hardly functioning and being aware of my failings as a mother I felt useless. over the next few weeks and only a few solicitor appointments and possibly persuaded by me my son decided to plead not guilty, like I said earlier I have never been involved with the criminal justice system so I was surprised and horrified at how it all worked. My son had never denied from day one that he did throw the punch which caused this man to fall hi his head and die, because of this his choice was to plead not guilty or guilty I will in another chapter go in to details of exactly what happened that night in my sons words.

A Catalogue of Errors

After the phonecall at 1 am this morning where it was established the tagging company were not coming we managed to get some sleep we were all so exhausted but we all had to be up early for a 9am visit from the youth offending team. The lady who came was the lady we had met in court and I will be forever grateful for how kind she was to us in the first weeks after his arrest.

She arrived and was quite shocked to hear that no one had attended to put the tag on someone who was charged with manslaughter, she made some calls and said the would definitely be attending this evening to put the tag on. At this pint she hardly knew our family and could only go on our appearance and my sons school records to realise we were not bad people. We went through the bail conditions and we were all happy that we could stick to them there wasn’t anything in the conditions that was unreasonable given the charge my son faced.

That evening at 7.30pm a male and female arrived to fit the tag, we have no history of dealing with this so they advised the phone to be put in the living room rather than my sons bedroom the phone which is somehow synced to the tag which would be put on my sons ankle. The quickly fitted the tag the male fitted the tag using his fingers and they both went around our home setting the boundaries of where he wasn’t allowed to go passed. He wasn’t allowed to go over the front or back door step not even to go to the bin for a second so we knew exactly by the time they left how sensitive it was. my son had been smoking for a little while and although we wouldn’t normally permit him to smoke in our home as we were not happy about it we knew the stress he was under and although we were fairly sure he wouldn’t push his luck with the tag my husband and I told him that whilst he was on bail he could smoke in his room at the window.

I am self employed and I wasn’t in a position to be having lots of time off as I knew court appearances in the future were going to mean lots of time off I decided with the help of family,friends and dizapam that I would return to work tomorrow, I knew if I could get tomorrow over with which is a long day (Thursday) the rest of my work could be done at home where I didn’t need to face anyone till Monday. After the tagging company left around 8.30pm I stayed up and prepared for work the following day I decided to go to bed around 10pm and left my husband and both children watching television almost for a second I could believe this was just a normal scene in anyones house. My husband woke me around midnight and told me that they had been sitting watching television and my son was saying he thought the tag would irritate his leg if he sweated and the man from the tagging company said lots of people put there sock under the tag so this does not happen this is what he did in front of my husband and the tag came off in his hand. His reaction was `dad I don’t think this should happen` my husband quickly reattached the tag using force for it to reattach and immediately the tagging phone rang and my husband answered but they wouldn’t speak to him only my son. They asked him if he had taken the tag off and he explained what had happened and even though the tag had been reattached within seconds someone needed to come out and put another one on. I told my husband because I had had a few hours sleep to go to bed and I would wait up for them coming as the company said it would be before 7 am. We sat downstairs and waited to terrified to doze off in case we didn’t hear the door. The arrived at 3am although one had arrived earlier but because of their rules they weren’t allowed to enter our property alone. Once the both arrived I explained what had happened and the cut the tag from my sons leg using a tool, they checked the tag over and said it hadn’t been tampered with but mustn’t have been double clicked when it was fitted. They checked all the boundaries upstairs in the bedrooms using a torch as I believe they have to when a new tag is fitted. Once the left we went to bed it was around 4 am and I had to be up at 6am for work but I think I was beyond tired as I still hardly slept.

I spoke to the youth offending team first thing and explained what had happened and they said we were not to worry about it

That day I went to work I speak to sometimes groups of 80 people at one time so I knew I had to be strong helped with medication and under the watchful eyes of my friends who watched my every move in case I couldn’t cope I got through my morning and went home for a few hours break before it all started again in the evening. I left for work at 4pm and worked until almost 9pm when my husband arrived and waited for my last client to leave and said the police had twice turned up, the first time my son explained what had happened the previous evening with the tag coming off and they seemed happy with the explanation.They returned half an hour later and said the were sorry but they had to arrest him as a breach from the tagging company had been filed saying the tag had been tampered with which we knew wasn’t true. My husband had rang the solicitor who attended the police station but he telephoned us and said unfortunately there was nothing that could be done and he would be taken to court the following morning. I cant tell you how hysterical I was that evening I felt utterly powerless as a mother I felt empty and screamed as I didn’t think for one minute they would let my son home again and I really didn’t think he could cope with this. I never closed my eyes at all that night I sat drinking wine and my eyes were red and swollen I could barely see for the tears.

I telephoned  the youth offending team at 8am and they said they would meet us at the court. We again were not allowed to see our son, as we were soon to find out there is no innocent until proven guilty your guilty and that is it as far as the courts and police are concerned. The solicitor and youth offending allowed downstairs to the cells to see my son and although very tired and upset they said his main concern was me. That is so typical of him to worry I wouldn’t be coping.

Once we were ushered in to the court my son was brought up from the cells handcuffed to the guard looking so pale and scared, the prosecution read out the statement from EMS the tagging company which stated it could not have fell off and it couldn’t have been reattached as described. Our solicitor asked my husband to take the stand and he told his version of events which completely contradicted what EMS had said.

Ems Said – The tag was fitted with a tool when in fact it was not it was fitted by a man using his fingers and the only tool we saw was when they came to remove it at 3 am the tool was used to remove it but not put it on. My husband used his hands to describe the force he had had to use to reattach it I was so proud of him standing there and telling the judge so calmly what had happened I wasn’t sure I could have done even with diazepam. The judge said our son was to be released after no breach was found but although no breach was found the accusation was still there and could be brought up at any time. He was released under the same bail conditions. As I left the court I decided I wouldn’t remember everything times dates and exactly how things happened so I went and bought a diary which would turn out to be the best thing I ever did.

Before leaving court I spoke to the youth offending team after my son said he felt the tag was loose and we were given the telephone number of the tagging company, I don’t know if it was just paranoia on his part but he had a right for it to be checked after the events of the last few days. Once I got home I telephoned EMS and spoke to a male member of staff who said someone would check it within 72 hours. This didn’t seem fair but we had no choice but to accept it

My husband and son went out and returned at 17.10pm and the tagging phone rang at 17.13pm, my son answered and they said to him he had breached the condition of his bail. I heard my son saying to the repeatedly no my curfew is not 5pm it is 7pm, I took the phone and said to them I had the paperwork stating 7pm, the said their original paperwork from the court on Tuesday said 7pm the new paperwork they had been faxed said 5pm. They were extremely rude to us on the phone and said another breach would immediately faxed to the police and our son would be getting arrested again. We jumped in the car leaving our son in the house as we knew if he left the house again it would trigger another breach as EMS were so insistent his curfew was 5pm not 7pm. The police station is not far from our home we just hoped that we could get to them before another warrant was issued. We arrived and spoke to the policewoman on the desk and handed over our paperwork stating his bail conditions and were met with an uncooperative officer who seemed not to want to help us as at the moment no warrant had been issued but agreed he would be arrested again if a breach came through regardless of what our paperwork said.  She eventually rang the tagging company who said their conditions were different to what we had on our paperwork and that theirs was more up to date than ours. We asked to speak to a sergeant and this was not granted by the policewoman on the front desk. Our solicitor rang the police station and also confirmed that the papers faxed from the court had been incorrect and my sons curfew was 7pm not 5pm. Still the police said if a breach comes through they will have no choice and until the court send the correct paperwork to EMS he could be arrested again.

We had no emergency numbers at this point for the youth offending team but were told they are often at court on a Saturday morning, I got up early after another night of waiting for the police to call and take him away again as I was sure they would it was only a matter of time. I spoke to someone from the youth offending team but from a different area and he couldn’t be of assistance as he was dealing with a young person who was likely to be remanded. Thankfully we spoke to a sympathetic security officer who went looking for a court clerk who remembered us and printed out the bail conditions, we left the court feeling slightly happier than we had been and drove straight to the police station, even in these early days I was developing a fear of the police that I had never felt before and found each time difficult that I came in to contact with them. They photocopied the bail conditions but said the date on them wasn’t correct and they couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t be arrested again. Jared Walked round to the corner shop with the dog as he needed to have space away from us it was a difficult time in which we were all suffering. At this point we were relying on EMS updating the system so the police wouldn’t be instructed to arrest him again. Again at 18.38 this evening the phone again rang and I answered and told them my son wasn’t present as his curfew was 19.00 they rudely said the would make a note of it and promptly hung up. He returned from the shop ay 18.47 and almost immediately the phone began to ring, he spoke to a lady named Carla who appeared to be understanding of our situation and assured him he wouldn’t be arrested again if the police were aware of our situation and the curfew was actually 7pm till 7am.

Sunday – The youth offending duty manager called this morning to talk about the problems we were having with the tag and how it shouldn’t have happened. I broke down on the telephone as I just felt I couldn’t go on he assured me that none of this should be happening. It had been a week since the initial arrest I had barely eaten or slept in that week I was running out of steam fast I just couldn’t keep going. That evening my 2 friends had called by to see us at 17.30 the tag phone began to ring and the person on the other end said someone would be out in the next few days  to check the tag as it was our right to have it checked as we had requested this on Friday and today was Sunday and we were still waiting on a visit, powerless we had no choice but to wait. He went out at 17.38 to see his friend and he assured us he would be back in time for his 7pm curfew already at this point I was beginning to get anxious although he had never given me cause to not trust him the moment he leaves my sight I get panicky and unable to breathe. By 17.50 EMS had called the tag phone again looking for him my panic is quickly getting worse the thought of the police taking him again just seems likely to happen and I cant bear the thought. I tried to explain to the lady on the telephone to read the notes about what had been going on but she wouldn’t listen and told us his curfew was 5pm not 7pm I felt like screaming the pressure I was feeling was like nothing I had felt before.18.30pm 2 men arrived from EMS and immediately telephoned the EMS office to report him not at the property and luckily the person on the end of the phone confirmed his bail conditions were 7pm till 7am not 5pm till 7am. At last it seemed if someone was going to listen, the men then explained that my sons tag was again showing he wasn’t wearing it and would wait on him returning to check  The 2 men waited outside as rules stated they were not allowed to wait inside our property if our son wasn’t home. We telephoned our son and he ran home terrified he would get arrested again and desperate to prove to the men the tag was in fact still attached to his leg. Once he arrived home the men checked the tag and said there appeared to be no fault. All in all he had been out of my sight for less than an hour today again ended in trauma. The men from EMS said they would like to tell us that our experiences were isolated but they weren’t and we were not the only family this had happened to I was horrified that this actually happens to one person never mind more.

Monday 22nd September Thankfully the rest of the Sunday evening and through the night had passed without incident. I got up at 8am and txt the youth manager to let them know what had been happening I didn’t get any response so I txt Helen from the youth offending team and at 12.30 we were contacted by jade from youth offending who arranged to come and see us tomorrow at 3pm

Tuesday 23td September – Tag phone was ringing at 2,15am myself and the rest of the family were sleeping. Teenage boys sleep through most things so we had to wake our son up as EMS wont speak to us on the telephone. He answered the phone and answered the security questions she said to him the signal must have went off as he was in bed sleeping on this occasion the lady was polite on the telephone

Friday – 26th September My husband woke me me to say the tag phone was ringing he jumped up to wake our son it was 7.02am, I did wonder why the would be ringing after the curfew time unfortunately he didn’t get downstairs quick enough and we missed the call. He immediately tried to call them back but it appeared to be frozen for a few minutes before it would allow him to dial out. he got through and spoke to a male member of the EMS team who said he had been missing from home for 28minutes from just after 6.30am when in fact none of us had moved from our beds my son mentioned what Jade from the youth offending had advised us to do and ask for EMS to come back out and re measure the rooms to make sure the boundaries were correct as it seemed to be when he turned over in bed it went off.

I txt Jade at the youth offending team to again let her know what had happened and asked her to call me as soon as she started work she rang at 8.17am and told us not to worry and she would visit us at 10am. At 8.50am I saw 2 police officers coming up my garden path my heart sank as I knew why they were here in tears again I answered the door and asked them inside. They explained that they had to arrest my son again for a breach of bail conditions they explained that because it was day time he would be taken almost immediately to court and I should make my way there. I tried to compose myself and contacted jade who said she would meet us at the court, throughout this whole experience my friends have been my rock they have comforted me and supported me at all times of the day and night. On this occasion I made my way to a friends house near to the court room as my husband was working to far away to be able to get home and having had the week before off work we were very conscious we had a mortgage to pay. My brother and his wife were also at work and unable to be with me so my friend was going with me as I was an emotional wreck and really felt like I just couldn’t go on. I had barely arrived at my friends house and the police rang to say there had been a mistake and I was to attend the police station, for someone who was quickly developing a fear of police I was in bits. I do not drive so after taking a taxi to my friends house I had to take another one to the large police station on the outskirts of north shields. once I arrived I was left waiting where I nervously waited once I got called in I was asked to go with them where they asked me if J was my son and had he left the house during the night I answered there questions and was told to either go home or make my way to the court. I arrived at the court with my friend and was met by jade from the youth offending team. She went down to the cells to check my son was ok, I was very tearful at this point but she said he was ok and seemed to be coping ok he was just fed up which was so understandable no matter what the charges were against him he hadn’t been found guilty and was only a child. She explained to us it was unlikely that that he would be in court before lunch but there was no way I could leave my son there we sat and waited I felt numb I really did not think the judge would believe us and my friend admitted that if she wasn’t seeing it with her own eyes she did wouldn’t have believed this sort of thing could happen. Sitting in the court that day I felt like I was in the audience of Jeremy kyle watching people come and go seeing how shoplifting charges were just something in their day to day life where it has never been part of mine.

Eventually my husband arrived surprised that we hadn’t been seen and a duty solicitor from the firm we were using at 3.30pm we got called in. My son was again brought up from the cells handcuffed to a court officer looking tired and frightened my son was introduced to the judge by the clerk and his bail conditions read out our solicitor immediately asked if I could go on the stand as since this had happened I had kept a detailed diary of dates, times and names I was perfectly confident that it was 100% confident it was accurate. My anxiety was at a all time high after sitting in the court room waiting room all day and my prescribed diazepam to keep me calm had been left at home. I now know everyone was scared of how I would come across in the witness stand with no warning but at the time I said I don’t know where it came from but I wanted to prove my sons innocence and its easy to tell the truth no matter how nervous you are and I was visably shaking from head to foot but I had to tell the truth and im proud to this day that I managed to do it. I started by telling the judge about the catalogue of disasters which had led me to being in the witness box that day and getting cross examined by the prosecutor trying to say  that morning apparently my son left the house at 6.30 when his curfew ended at 7am and returning 2 mins before it ended ! I asked why would my son do that? he smokes but because of his curfew we allow him to smoke out of the window so he would have no reason to leave and like most teenagers he believes only one 6.30 is in a day and that is not the AM one. The prosecutor brought up 2 previous breeches one from the week before which was not proven in court and one from sunday 21st September where we had been plagued by EMS the statement EMS read to the court stated the breach was at 5.37pm I calmly asked the judge what time my sons curfew was he said 7pm till 7am so how could my son breach at 5.37pm? Luckily the judge believed me and the judge ruled my sons tag was to be removed by EMS that night and as responsible parents he trusted we could be responsible along with the police in looking after his bail conditions. We agreed to a doorstep curfew which meant the police could call at any time between 7pm and 7am to see my son and although at the time it was the answer to my prayers I had been scared so much by the police every time I closed my eyes I dreamt I didn’t hear the door and they would break in and take my son again this was the start of over a year of not sleeping due to fear of the police and every little sound having me behaving like a scared animal startled by headlights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first 48 hours

We pretty much followed the police to the station even after they told us not to and we should wait to hear from them, but there was no way after taking my child I couldn’t follow. We waited at the police station for my sister-in-law to arrive so he could be interviewed.

Once my sister-in-law arrived we were taken to a side room where we were spoken to and given water, they said he would be interviewed some time later and we should go home again I refused as I count imagine leaving him there. I can only be vague about the timescale of those first few hours as they passed in a bit of a blur but my sister-in-law was briefly allowed to speak to him and although she reported he was very scared and upset he was ok and again very concerned about myself and his dad. I think not being able to see him was the worst thing but now when I think back my sister in law  was the best person and did a great job of supporting him and I know I can never repay her for that. After several hours my husband contacted my parents and arranged for pur younger daughter to stay with them explaining what had happened.

We eventually returned home that evening after the police told us he would be remanded in custody and my sister-in-law said that they were waiting for a duty solicitor to attend and she would keep us informed. We returned home to the start of the dinner on the bench just as we had left it and sat crying in the living room unsure what to do or think. The police for some reason still unclear to me to this day has taken my work laptop and phone had left me with no phone numbers to contact anyone but luckily my husbands phone was t taken! My brother arrived and offered his support which was to be invaluable in the months ahead little did we know at the time.

My sister-in-law came back to collect some things for my son which we had got ready in a bag, she had been present when he had been interviewed along with a duty solicitor during the interview my son admitted to punching the deceased man once in the nose and he had stumbled backwards and hit his head, after he had been following my son for more than an hour and had been behaving in a manner which had worried the kids. In another blog I will go in to detail about the statements given that night but I still find it incredibly hard to explain. Luckily the police knew from other statements it had been 1 punch so there was never any suggestion that it had been anything more . The interview was stopped on a few occasions as the police were putting pressure on my son and almost trying to put words in his mouth. I’m so glad that my sister-in-law was with him because I wouldn’t have known that I could stop an interview. At times she thought they were trying to get him to admit he knew exactly what he was doing when that punch was thrown which he always denied. They used the fact the man had mental health issues to try to get my son to admit that it was almost like a happy slapping attack when not one of the children present that night had any idea the man had mental health issues. My son was such a caring young lad I really couldn’t believe that he would have intentionally hurt someone unless there was a reason to throw the punch. I had always taught my children violence was not the answer and always said do not hit anyone as I actually had read about these one punch murders.As we weren’t allowed to see or speak to our son we didn’t know what had happened but we knew we would stand by him no matter what and we sent that message to him via m sister-in-law

My sister-in-law took the bag back to the police station and I continued to cry almost in a hysterical way my eyes were so swollen and I was still shaking from head to foot and I felt so sick from not eating anything since the night before. I opened a bottle of wine and my brother had a beer, my husband does not drink so he had a soft drink we sat and talked of all the different scenarios and tried to think about what we could do. When put in that kind of situation the thinking is almost irrational the pain in our hearts was unbearable and couldn’t bear to think of him alone in a police cell. I continued to drink the wine but it did not make me feel better. My brother was a great support that night keeping us sane and reassuring me that we would pull together no matter what. His wife returned and said although he had been interviewed again it was suspended until the morning and she was to return to the police station at 10am, that night I suppose I was so engrossed in my own feelings that I didn’t acknowledge how hard it was for her. We are very close and she loves her nephew dearly and there is only a matter of months between their son and my son so the boys spent a lot of time together growing up.

That night I hardly slept even after the wine I had drunk, I dozed at one point and woke up and briefly thought it must have been a dream, I quickly realised it wasn’t a dream. Work wasn’t going to be an option for my husband and I and we are both self-employed, my husband cancelled his job for the week and I managed to get some cover but we had no savings so already we knew we could be in trouble. My main worry was the police had my laptop which was my work laptop and my business could not continue without it. My husband went to the police station and luckily they had examined it and no longer needed it so they let us have it back.

My eldest son arrived home as he is serving in the armed forces and was due to go abroad in a few days but needed to be with us until then. My eldest daughter had been working abroad teaching and was due to arrive home in the early hours of Tuesday coincidentally and we yet had to tell her what had happened.

My sister-in-law was present for the interview which took place at 11am and she came to see us after it was over, she told us there was no doubt that he would be charged later that day as they had been given an extension to keep him until 8pm. She said the options were murder or manslaughter and that the duty solicitor was working very hard to make sure it was manslaughter and not murder. I do not know how I got through that day I had used my husbands phone to contact a couple of my good friends and they were also with us. We don’t have a family to support us only my brother and sister-in-law so my friends would prove invaluable over the next year.

My sister-in-law was called back to the police station and at 7pm my son was officially charged with the manslaughter of ********** . The duty solicitor, charging officer,my sister-in-law and my son were all in tears because it was widely known he was not a bad lad and not the type of young lad you would expect to be in this sort of trouble. My sister-in-law let us know by phone what the charge was and although I was devastated it was  also a relief to know it was manslaughter not murder. By this time he had been in custody for30  hours and had not accepted any food or drink and he was being remanded in custody for another night. The police allowed him to make a call to me and my husband and we spoke briefly through the tears he said he was sorry and we said we loved him. He was to appear in court the following day so my husband took some smart clothes to the police station shirt, tie,trousers and polished shoes.

Early hours of the morning my daughter needed picking up from the airport and my husband and son left to pick her up and break the news to her and I knew how upset she would be as she was very close to her little brother. As she walked back through the door she was visibly distressed and there was nothing I could do except take her in my arms and we sobbed together for what seemed like a long time. Sleep wasn’t really an option as it was already 4am and we had to be in court at 10am and we had to go out and but some clothes for my daughter and partner as they couldn’t attend  court in shorts as that is all they,  had stepped of the plane in and lived almost 200 miles from us so going to get them clothes from their flat wasn’t an option. Since Saturday evening I had eaten no food at all I couldn’t bear to eat I felt so sick  all I had managed was tea,coffee and wine but I really felt quite unwell but lack of food,sleep and worry was likely to have made me feel like that. All I wanted was to see my son so I could ask him myself what had happened. In all of my life I had never been so out of control nothing I could do and nothing I could say would make it better. As a mother you can always make things seem better but this time there was nothing I could do and that was so distressing

Early Days

After a bad marriage when I was very young I spent some time on my own with my young children, when I met my now husband a serious relationship was the last thing that I wanted. Life was settled without the need of a man in our lives I worked full time and the children were cared for by a chid minder and although we didn’t have much money we would often close the door on a weekend and not see anyone for days but the kids were young and that is the way I liked it at the time.

When I met my husband he had been married before but didn’t have children and in time he met my daughter and son and was great with them, I got a bit of confidence back in men something that I had lost after my marriage. Once he moved in we were a happy family and he had said more kids were not really what he had planned. After a while the subject came up again and we decided we would try for a baby of our own, we were both delighted to find I was pregnant really quickly but sadly I had a miscarriage soon after. I quickly became pregnant again and after trouble free pregnancy had a perfect little boy 8lb 4oz, I have seen a man so in love with his baby as my husband was as my first husband hadn’t been particularly interested in his children. I remember life being pretty perfect my older 2 loved their brother and life was good.

He was a great baby who breastfed and slept well, my older 2 would go off to school in the mornings and it would just be me and the baby I had a good friend who was also on maternity leave so we would be out shopping, luch, walking with the prams and going to mother and toddler groups. All was well until at 5 wks he became unwell with a chest infection, which I found strange that a summer baby exclusively breastfed would get a chest infection. Over the first 10 mths of his life the supposed infection never really went away and he coughed and coughed often to the point he would vomit. It would ease after times on oral steroids but never fully went away. He was still such a happy little thing even though he would get breathless crawling and laughing. Before his first birthday he was diagnosed with asthma like his dad he was prescribed inhalers.

After initially going back to work when he was 18wks old during the day I only lasted for a couple of months as neither myself or my husband could bear the thought of him being left with a child minder so I found an evening job working 7pm till midnight, not ideal but I needed to work and it meant he was going to bed not long after I left for work and my husband was home to look after all 3 children and meant we had no childcare costs. I look back now and wonder if because he really never got left with anyone is that why he suffered so bad with separation anxiety as a child? I suppose I will never know the answer to that. I went on to have another baby only 17mths after my son was born a little girl also perfect. 2 boys and 2 girls all beautiful and healthy apart from the asthma  I considered myself to be very lucky.

When my son was 3 and my daughter was 18mths we decided to move 300 miles away to where I was originally from because we had no family where we lived and wanted the children to grow up knowing their cousins and grandparents. The move was fine and the children registered at the local schools so life again returned to normal. My sons asthma would often become a problem for no apparent reason and after one particular incident when he was hospitalised the doctor referred him for allergy tests, which discovered he had multiple allergies to animals so bad that once after his sister visited a farm and touched animals it resulted in a hospital visit for him just by sitting next to her in the car. When I looked back whilst he was a baby my eldest daughter would go horse riding most weekends and come home and pick him up and we didn’t know she was probably the cause of him being so poorly as a baby. Once he was diagnosed it helped because we could keep him away from certain things but horses and rabbits were the things he was mostly in danger from and we couldn’t control what other people touched, daily antihistimes helped.

On his first day at school he cried, which I know a lot of kids do little did I know he would continue to cry at school most days until he was 10!!! He hated being left at school and would sob for so long even the teachers said they had never known a child who so badly wanted his mum, dad, brothers or sisters as he would instantly calm down once his family reappeared. I don’t know of any traumatic incident which had caused him to be like this as none of my other children  had ever cried like this. He was always particularly bad on Mondays, beginning of term, change of teacher (even if only for a day). It almost got to the stage where the teachers were like come on ***** because they just knew him so well. He was well liked at school and made friends easily so his crying episodes used to confuse me so much. I believe as he got older he really did try not to cry and he would often almost get there without crying then I would see him lip tremble and think oh no here we go again. I remember the first time I went away without my husband and older two children he was so distressed because he just kept saying he wanted all his family together. My mother once let him stay overnight and when we went to pick him up she said `never again` and he had sobbed for us nearly the whole time he was there.

He was such a cute kid with a personality to match doted on by us and his older brother and sister and to a certain extent his little sister being the tougher one of the 2 would often be behind him comforting him when he needed it. Probably not the way it happened in most families but in ours it was the way it went. My oldest son if anyone would be a bit jealous and say we wrapped him in cotton wool far to much but again just the normal family squabbles.

I know we weren’t perfect parents I don’t suppose anyone ever is, but we worked hard to provide for the 4 of them, going on holidays and we loved each of them unconditionally.