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We arrived at the court and walked through the doors united we were going to stand by our Son, faced with security and x-ray machines our bags were emptied and we my were sent through x-ray machines and some of us searched all new to us we had never been to court before. Only my sister-in-law was familiar with it as she is a lawyer so has attended court many times. We walked upstairs and saw a very smartly dressed young man who was introduced to us by my sister-in-law as the duty solicitor from the police station after brief introductions he ushered us to the café where we bought some cups of tea and sat down for a chat. He said he had seen our son that morning and he was bearing up and complimented us on such a lovely young boy who unfortunately had found himself in this position after never being in trouble before I found it very hard to compose myself and mostly my brother or husband were trying to keep me calm. Another smartly dressed older gentleman came in to the café and introduced himself as the person who would be representing our son and made clear at that point that the most important thing is we were granted bail. We were taken to a room by the duty solicitor and a lady from the youth offending team who I will call youth  offending lady 1 the youth offending team spoke to us with so much compassion I immediately warmed to her she said it was her job to put a package to the judge for bail and that she had spent some time looking at our sons background , and the brief details of the case. Much to our relief she said she would be recommending that our son was granted bail and asked if we would be willing to agree to the following conditions

a doorstep  curfew from 7pm to 7am where the police could call at any time to make sure he was at home

regular youth offending home visits

to reside and sleep at our home address

not to contact any of the named witnesses

We were only to happy to agree, we needed our son home with us I knew he would be so scared. Only myself, my husband and sister-in-law were permitted to be in the court room alongside various officials. My son was brought up and was handcuffed to a prison guard I will never forget his face at that moment. I wanted to stand up and tell him how much we loved him but I couldn’t. The charges were read out and the youth offending package was read out, the judge agreed that he could be granted bail and the relief we felt at this point was huge, the judge did not agree that it would be a doorstep curfew but said he would agree to him being tagged and his curfew would be 7pm till 7am, we would have agreed to anything to have him home and we knew there would be no problems adhering to the conditions. Court was over until 2 wks later when we would need to appear in crown court. We stepped outside and cried in each others arms and the solicitor took us to a side room where we were quickly joined by our son and the duty solicitor for the first 5 mins we just hugged him and took turns to hold him I have never seen anyone look so ghastly and scared. They said to take him home and they would be in touch I asked when he would be tagged and were told sometime that night between the curfew time or 7pm and 7am.

We decided to go and eat as family after leaving the court room as none of us had eaten for days. This was to be the last time our children would be together for 6 months as my eldest son was being deployed with the armed forces the following day and had made the brave decision to go regardless as he said he would more than likely be home to support us through a trial and felt we would need him more then. We collected our daughter from my parents home and met me brother his children and my children to eat, at this point we hadn’t went through the details of what had happened that dreadful night and only knew the details my sister-in-law had told us from being his appropriate adult at the police station. We decided to leave it until he was ready to talk about it. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to know but I know he had been repeatedly asked for 2 days whilst in custody and I could tell he was very upset. We ate very little even after not eating for days I don’t think any of us had an appetite, if you had asked me the day before what I wanted it was to have my son home and now I had that the thought of the battle we had ahead was terrifying me even though I had never been involved in the criminal justice system before I knew it was going to be very hard. If im honest now I didn’t have a clue how hard it would be and how out of control I would feel as a wife and mother.

We said our goodbyes to my brother and his family with promises to catch up soon, although we lived close by one another we all lead very busy lives and can be guilty of not seeing each other for months on end. My relationship with my parents is rocky to say the least and they do see my children but haven’t spoken to me for over 2 years so my brother and his wife are my family support and they certainly didn’t let me down over the last few days I don’t think I can ever repay how supportive they have been.

We returned home and was immediately hit but the smell as we opened the back door of rotting vegetables, it hadn’t seemed important to clear away the half-cooked dinner from before the arrest but the smell now meant it had to be done immediately. My son looked like he had not slept since he was arrested and although neither had we he is our child and ultimately I wanted to scoop him up put him to bed and wake him up and tell him it would all be ok but I couldn’t as nothing could make this go away. He went in the shower and was gone for what seemed ages even at this point I knew I never wanted him to be out of my sight again.

We settled on the sofas altogether and waited for the company that would come and fit the tag to our son the time was almost 7pm the time the curfew was due to start so I presumed they wouldn’t be long. We waited and waited the clock ticking I couldn’t understand if our son was on bail for manslaughter then surely they would have been there at 7pm on the dot to make sure he adhered to the bail conditions, at around midnight when none of us could barely keep our eyes open I telephoned 101 and asked to be put though to the police station my son had charged at. We were scared that we fell asleep and didn’t hear the door so thought it best to call the police. It seemed not a problem to be put through where the Sergeant answered the phone and said `custody` I explained who I was and his reaction shocked me as he said how did you get put through here? I explained that I had rung 101 as I didn’t know what else to do and he said I should never have been put through there!. He then went off to speak to someone else and came back with the telephone number of EMS who is the company who deal with tagging. The time was 1am when I telephoned EMS and the call handler said if no one had been then no one would come till tomorrow evening. We were all to tried to feel angry and eventually went to bed I know my husband was almost asleep as his head hit the pillow but I think I was passed needing sleep and couldn’t drop off so much going through my mind, not only my son but how was our younger child going to deal with it? kids are cruel and I was scared for her and scared she wouldn’t cope although she was adamant she couldn’t care what anyone said, she was standing by her brother but I know my children and their personalities very well and although she has always been the tougher one between the two she also keeps her feelings to herself.

Part of the reason I have decided to write this is to help me deal with my feelings and in the hope that one day another family will stumble upon this and know that they are not the only ones to have ever gone through this. This incident happened 13 months ago and in that time I have struggled with everything life has thrown at me often with the help of medication to keep me calm. From 24 hrs after the initial arrest I made contact with the doctor to ask for diazepam which they gave me for the early court cases and enough for me to continue to do my job. I currently take anti depressant and can’t see a time when I wont need to take them my life still seems so hopeless and I can’t see an end to it. It has taken me almost a year to sleep again and now that I have started sleeping I could happily sleep my days away as no matter how much sleep I have I feel so tired. It took 6 months for help from the counselling services attached to my GP but after trying CBT and then a general councillor they said they couldn’t help. frustration, failure, guilt are some of the words I use to describe how I feel every day. I hope one day I can say that I have come out of the other side but that does not feel like any day soon.