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.