A view from…the Crown Court dock – being sentenced

Friday came and I sat in the waiting room until Jeremy turned up. I had brought a bag and I was ready. I found it quite hard knowing what to pack. Nobody tells you what you can take into prison, so I packed some underwear, some jeans and tops, all plain and simple stuff.  I’d said goodbye to my Mother who was devastated. My Mother is Irish and her words were “them fecking courts took you away from me once and now they’re going to do it again” Those words still ring in my ears today. That was how she saw it. Courts were her nemesis. They’d taken away her children all those years ago in 1977.

I was called through to the court, through the front door this time. I went to the dock again after being searched in a small back room by a G4S guard. I stood up as the courtroom did when the Judge entered and they all sat down. I was asked to stand again. The Judge told me I had been found guilty of fraud. He also told me that he had read the pre-sentence report and understood that for 18 months I had not committed any crimes and that given my circumstances, my education, the fact that I had a sole trader business, he was going with the recommendation made by the probation service. He told me that he understood how difficult that it must be to turn one’s life around, but that I had broken the law and that sentence must be passed. I was given the following sentence:

  • An 18-week custodial sentence suspended for one year
  • There were no supervision requirements attached
  • No community service order was attached
  • An order to pay the sum outstanding to the landlord of £250.00
  • No fines or costs were attached

I was supposed to feel relieved. Fact was I didn’t. I had no home, I was on the verge of losing my business, and I’d lost my father, my children. Should I have felt great?  The friends I had lost, for a small part of me, I just knew they were never strong enough to handle what was really going on with me. That’s no reflection on them as people, but some people have deep strengths and some people don’t. It was all gone, everything. I hadn’t earned any money as another odious idiot caused me hell earlier; I had lost most of my belongings as I had walked away from the home that was to be my marital home. I did however have five people who pulled me through; my mother, two of my clients and three friends.

Two of my long-term clients had sensed that something was wrong. I was missing deadlines, didn’t care about my work and instead of giving up on me as a provider for them, they got their heads together. Over nine years of working with people builds a relationship and they knew something wasn’t right with me.  Two people who had never met each other before united and gave me the ticking off I needed. They had work for me and they wanted me back. They believed in me and trusted me. My friends clubbed together and bought me a new computer and my mother loaned me the deposit for my new home, which I have recently moved into.  Those people saved me and gave me something to live for. Despite the nastiness of some people and I have been on the end of some nasty little individuals who used me as a scapegoat to cover up their own behaviours, I’ve got good people around me.

I went back six weeks ago to the canal bank where I’d lived. The canal will always be a special place, that particular bit where I lived for two weeks. I went with my friend and we sat there for two hours on my canal bank for two hours and we talked, we laughed and we spread some poppy seeds. That spot brought me some peace when I was at a very bleak point in my life. The canal with its eerie silence and its wildlife breathed life into me. I wanted to die but strangely, it kept me alive.

I’m a convicted criminal. Let’s not make any bones about that or dress that up in any way. I broke the law and I deserved to be sentenced for that act. I was foolish and I didn’t ask for help where I could have done. I’m currently serving my sentence and I’m doing well. I had no access to services, but I’ve had help and I’ve worked hard to try to rebuild. I’ve still a long way to go to make some amends with those I love; my children, but that is only going to come with a passage of time and may well take some years.  The friends I’ve lost, I don’t have to make up to. I own my crime and if they want to make it theirs then I cannot do anything about that. My time is precious, I give back and then some to those who care enough to see the real me and not allow that to cloud their love and respect for me. Those who I can make amends to, I will and I have.

Oh – remember that warrant that someone forgot to put on the computer those two weeks previously? Well someone forgot to take it off the PNC. The Police turned up at my Mother’s property to arrest me the day following my sentence.  Oh yes they did…  I was to be taken into custody to be put before the court on Monday. But that’s another story….

I’d like to thank Dan, Sara and in particular Lyndon for giving me the opportunity to use their space to tell my story.

It was nearly all over, but it isn’t now…

About the author: Tracey McMahon is a 45 year, copy writer/transcriber/translator. She is a convicted offender and is currently serving her sentence.

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