Tuesday 3 June 2008

100 Pills And a Journey Starts...

I've never blogged about this before.
Not in depth.

But hey, why not?

Not much to lose it seems.

You never think it could happen to you. You just don't.
Everyone you know takes pills at the weekend.
There are about sixty people working on the same floor as you, and about thirty of them like to pop pills.

But pills are illegal.

Yeah, you think. But who cares? How many people do you know, who think it's wrong?

Thing is, you live in a fairly cocooned world. You work in sales for God's sake. If you worked in an accountancy firm, the subject might be a more taboo.

It never really quite dawns on you that the law treats it as seriously as it does.

Until you're sitting in Steelhouse Lane Police Station. And your brief says he thinks you MAY get away with a simple possession. He doesn't think you'll go down. OK, you had 100 pills on you. But the evidence doesn't look solid.

And then you get to court. By now your brief is shifting. 70-30 in favour of a conviction, he says. If you do go down, you'll get custody. Maybe a year. In which case, you'll be out in three months.

The case was adjourned twice, then we had a mistrial, then two more adjournments. Then, in May 2004, a guilty verdict.

The trial itself, well. Oddly, I think I can honestly say, mine was one of the few cases where the people writing references didn't think what they were writing. My boss wrote 'I have known X for over a year, he works well, is good at his job and liked by his colleagues. I also know him socially and he's good company, reliable, a good friend and someone you can trust. He's a very outgoing and loyal person.'

For most cases, that would impress. But if you're being charged with either fraud, or selling drugs, then that's exactly the resume people might expect.

Well. There was one lad on the jury kept smiling at me, reassuring me he was on my side.

When the jury came back, I knew. Because he just faced the floor and wouldn't look at me. He didn't want to convict me, but he wanted to go home.

Well, I got three weeks on bail to sort my life out. Three weeks. Three funny weeks. But hey, I'd been waiting eighteen months to know the answer to the big question.

I savoured every pint, trust me.

Well, when we got back for sentencing, my brief told me to expect two years. I'd be out on tag in six months. Out for Christmas anyway.

So I wasn't prepared.

'Mr Crushed. I have listened to the representations made by your counsel. I will say that this a sad case and I fully understand the pain that your girlfriend's abortion caused you and I appreciate that in some sense, you can be considered a victim in this. I will also say, that aside from these offences, you appear to be a law abiding person with much to offer society. However, you have chosen to behave in an irresponsible manner. Ecstasy is a scourge on our society. It is my belief that your education, intelligence and good employment situation aggravate the situation. I am going to sentence you to a custodial sentence of four years.'

Four years.

Four years.


And the funny thing is, I did. Down in those holding cells, I was laughing away with the other lads. Real criminals, and there I was laughing away with them. Four years!

One other thing worth mentioning as an aside is my mother didn't see me taken down. It happened that quick, she was still in the toilet... I think she was a bit upset by that.

A Reliant screw came in to announce that my brief wanted to see me.

We sat in that room, me still in my suit- a suit I wouldn't see for over a year.
'We're going to appeal. That was just completely excessive. Hang in there.'
I smiled 'I'm going to have to.'

The girl from my solicitors looked at me 'You all right? You must be shocked?'
I exhaled 'Yes. But also relieved. Because that's it now. This has been hanging over me now for eighteen months. Now I KNOW what lies ahead and every day now, is another day done. If the appeal fails, then it's a max of two years eight months. If I get parole, I'm out for the world cup.'

She looked at me 'Bearing in mind you've never been before a judge before, and you just got what you did, you're taking it very well.'

I smiled 'Hey. Don't worry. I've spent eighteen months preparing for the worst in my head. I lived with Claire don't forget- prison CAN'T be that bad. I'll just look ahead, England playing in Germany me with a pint in my hand. I'll just do some reading' I grinned.

Five minutes later I was being led onto the sweatbox. They call them sweatboxes for a reason. Each man to his own compartment. And you can see out, outside can't see in. And I watched the journey, savouring it. Cars, people, shops, Birmingham, beautiful Birmingham. Now I'd be in the city, but never see it. Up the express way, through Aston and then...

The steel gates slide open. The sweatbox rolled in. In front were another set of steel gates.
The ones behind slide too before the ones in front opened. The landscape ahead, could have been Belsen 'Arbeit mach frei', I thought. My new home.

Welcome to Winson Green.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

'We're going to appeal. That was just completely excessive. Hang in there.'

Perhaps if more 'excessive' sentences were handed down people would have more respect for the law and what it is supposed to uphold.

Anonymous said...

My comment on this is there is the system and the law but there isn't justice!

Hope you understand what I mean... ask me to explain a bit more if you don't!

Anonymous said...

"Hang in there".

Sometimes you just dont have any choise, now do you?

But I do understand you logic - we always fear the unknown, and if you have a vivid imagination like me, reality often isnt that bad as the uncertainty and the tricks that your mind plays.

Knowledge is power, and if you have the facts than you can start preparing for reality.

Regarding law & justice, well, I'm not even opening that pandoras box!

Anonymous said...

Certainly seemed abit excessive to me...considering your record. Brave of you to share this Crushed.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have expected 4 years either, but the judge did have a point in saying he gave the judgment cos one would expect someone like you to know better ;-) there's that verse that goes 'if you don't know that you're doing wrong, you'll be judged only lightly, but if you do, you'll be judged more'... but if I'd been in your shoes, I might have done all the same things, and 100 pills could just mean you were stocking up just in case ;-)

Anonymous said...

"there's that verse that goes 'if you don't know that you're doing wrong, you'll be judged only lightly, but if you do, you'll be judged more'"

I agree. Far for it to be right for me to pass judgement on this but I will say, I hope you learnt a valuable lesson Crushed :-)

Anonymous said...

That's a great post with terrific shock value. Can't wait for the follow up.

Anonymous said...

Hey ostrebunny, It’s not like he committed a real crime, like an unprovoked stabbing or something.

Drugs are illegal because parliament said they were.

One day they were ok and the next they were illegal. Like alcohol in the US during prohibition or in Saudi Arabia now. Making the illegal can’t stop people using them. It just makes the law look pointless and oppressive.

If he had mugged some old lady he might have been better off.

Are you going to push for prohibition of alcohol, or applaud if they make you get a licence to buy it?

Alcohol, drugs, burgers, the internet, like lots of things need to be used, if at all, with care and maybe moderation, but do we really need the Government telling us, making us do what it thinks best?

Anonymous said...

For the record, I have deleted a comment here from my stalker. How she got to the blog, I don't know, since I barred her IP address- but a stalker will always get through.

Please note; Her agenda is simple. She knows- for reasons which will become clear as this series goes on- that I have decided to devote the rest of my life to making a difference. This blog is part of that.

She seeks to destroy my blog as part of the most vicious campaign of spurned female revenge that ever existed.

I want it be noted that on a personal level the pain and misery this women has caused me make what I'm going to describe in the succeeding posts, a walk in the park.

Anonymous said...

Oestrebunny- The law has to be worthy of respect. Currently, the law IS in disrepute, because so often, it truly is an Ass.

CherryPie- Yes, I do. Certainly when you compare the following;

Man without driving license runs over and kills old woman and drives away.
3 years.

Man sexually assualts (read rapes but they can't get her to testify) 12 year old girl- 2 years.

Crashie- The reality was different, but not necessarily better then the fear. In spite of what the hang 'em flog 'em brigade say, prisons are truly awful places.

Fusion- Well, I think it best, for reasons I won't bore you with- but see above comment.

Eve- We used that excuse, I said I was a heavy user and I bought monthly.
It didn't work.

Nunyaa- I learned lessons, certainly, though not, perhaps the ones the system wanted me to.

Do I think what I did was wrong?

No. Not at all.
But I wouldn't do it again, either.

LL- You won't have to wait too long either :)
The next two will kind of, I guess, be the most shocking, in some ways. Maybe not shocking, but they will burst a few myths.

Moggs- My opinion entirely.

What's even worse, is in practice, the system takes this view.

In my case, it was made clear that I had no offending behaviour to address. Most prisoners get a sentence plan- things they have to do to get tag/parole. I never had one. It was always made clear that in my case, I was just there because the law said I had to be.

Surprisingly, even though I think what I went through was grossly unfair, I'm not bitter NOR do I resent it. I think it gave me something, I got through it with my head held high.
And having that pride in yourself and who you are, is priceless.

Anonymous said...

Moggs paw, I think, if you actually read the comment I left previously the issue of the legality of drugs was not the point.

Anonymous said...

I know you've mentioned this before Crushed but FOUR YEARS? THat was an utterly disproportionate sentence

Anonymous said...

I am glad my comment made sense :-)

Anonymous said...

I read this when you first put it up, having just read the second post I now cannot wait for the next installment. You write brilliantly Crushed, the detail and nuance is great and you have avoided the urge to elicit sympathy. By doing this you are receiving lots from me and most of the other commenter's.
Kia kaha Crushed.

Anonymous said...

Oestrebunny- I appreciate what you're saying. Before I got sent down, my sole opinion on this subject was simply that drugs should NOt be criminalised.
My experiences of the prison system has now convinced me that the whole system is barbaric, it ruins lives.

Two wrongs don't make a right, this is the problem with the concept of punishment.
It just means humanity hurts itself more times over.

jams- It was, and I didn't find anyone who'd disagree. I even had one lad- fair play- I met him in Brum city centre and I asked him when he got out.
He started 'Well, you know how I did a serious crime and you didn't, but I got less time...'
I admired him for saying that.

CherryPie- Well, that gives an advantage over our justice system :)

Bill- Partly, to be fair, it's started to kind of feel like something that happened in another life. I'll never forget it- it has moulded not only my outlook, but also how I structure my actions. I've become a lot more of a cagy and guarded person.

I tried to avoid the standard horror story post, because that's the sterotype. It ain't like that. Boredom and Frustration. Watching time tick by. Doing time. That phrase really says it all. They take time out of your life, but make you live through it.

But where there's a will, there's a way. I found things to do, as will become apparent.

Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure how the British system compares to the Canadian legal system (we're too busy asserting that it is so different from the US system!), but from the time I see some of the sex offenders whose files pass through our office get, I cannot believe four years. Cannot believe it at all.