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
I woke up this Sunday morning without many worries, feeling quite happy with myself, starting to feel normal after recently being a stem cell donor through the Anthony Nolan Trust; it’s a good feeling knowing you have saved someone’s life.
I got up and went to the gym full of thoughts of the future, of how nothing was going to stop me getting fit and losing some weight.
I went home and popped out to Asda with my husband, I bought new bedding and picked up things for dinner. Everything was normal at home; my son had stayed at his friends the night before but now was home.
As I started to make dinner, my husband and 16 year old son went out to the barbers to each get a haircut; I have 4 children at this point 24,22,16,14, so I have quite a lot of experience of the behaviour of teenagers. My son had been particularly moody over those last few months, but no more than his older brother at that age. He actually was the most loving, caring person I had ever came across – I was proud of him as he had always struggled at school, but at the last minute really tried; unfortunately he didn’t do particularly well at school but wanted to resit what he hadn’t passed and was loving his engineering course at college. He had been told the year before that his dream of being in the forces wouldn’t happen because he has quite severe allergies and asthma, and I know that this had a negative impact on his life as it is something he had his heart set on.
Around 3pm I was cooking dinner and listening to some music when I saw activity at my back gate. I went outside to find some uniformed and plain-clothed police officers, afraid to enter my gate because of my dog. I opened the gate and invited them in, my heart pounding as neither I or any of my family have had any involvement with the police before. They said they needed to talk to my son and I told them he was out with his dad, having a haircut, and wouldn’t be long. They asked me to call my husband, which I did. I told him to come home as the police needed to talk to our son, I was shaking from head to foot as I guessed it was serious by how many police officers there were.
On the way home my son told my husband that on Friday night he had punched a man who had been following him, but he hadn’t thought that he had injured him so he didn’t think it could concern that. When they came home the police said to my son “is your name *******” he said “yes” and they said “we are arresting you for murder!” They then asked what clothes he had been wearing on Friday night and bagged them up for evidence, in addition to my own mobile phone and work laptop. The fear and the pain was unbearable, nothing could prepare anyone for the shock of this. Because he was a minor, my son needed an appropriate adult; my husband was unable as he had told my husband he had hit the man, and I was so hysterical I wouldn’t have been suitable; so we called our sister in law who is a lawyer, and knew she was the best choice.
My son did not resist and during the first few moments, seemed to be more worried about me than anything else. As they covered his handcuffs with a coat, he looked so scared, so young. Could he have murdered someone? My head was all over the place but I managed to calm myself down enough to give him a hug and tell him I loved him. My parting words to him were: no matter what, tell the truth son.
From that day to this our lives have been turned upside down, which is why I wanted to start writing this – to see if sharing it will shift the burden that I carry everyday. I have never done this type of thing before so I will blog my experiences of dealing with the police whilst never having been involved with them before; the tagging system; the youth justice system; youth offending team; secure units for young offenders; people pretending to be friends, and anything else along the way.