I didn’t realise how quickly I’d skipped over the court day. I guess I was so relieved that it was all over and I was free that I neglected the detail.
Literally at the 11th hour, (11am) a certain person offered to write a letter to the court asking for common sense and leniency. But I couldn’t speak to my solicitor as she was in court. It needed to come in the right format to be admissible but I couldn’t get the right information so messages were being passed 3rd hand and it got very confusing. A lot of people were going to a lot of trouble for me and I will be forever grateful. No one could print it as the Police have all my tech still so I was trying to get ready, make phone calls and then set off drving to a friend’s house on the other side of town to print it off but got stuck in a huge traffic jam and had to turn around and abort as I was due in court in an hour. My mate dropped it off just as my solicitor finally called and said the letter should be sent to her. Damn! The taxi came and off I went.
I showed my solicitor the letter and she was adamant she couldn’t use it as it was a private letter between 2 people and not addressed to the court. She told me to not show it to the Probation officer.
The last time I saw a Probation Officer he shafted me big style. We just didn’t hit it off. They work for the court and not you. They are not your friend. But this chap was my friend! I guess it was made easier by the report from my Counsellor (published here) that made it clear why I had acted like I had. That I was by the time of the offense at the height of a long, slow breakdown caused by depression, isolation, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and the view of my 4 walls for months whilst also doing my own head in with ‘stuff’.
The Probation officer totally got it! From that moment on everything went so much better than I expected it to. We discussed possible punishments that might assist me and community service was ruled out due to my job, probation and alcohol services too due to my private counselling and re-enrollment at a non-government alcohol charity. He was going to recommend a suspended sentence if the judges warranted the offense custodial.
Within a few minutes of that ending I was in court. The bench was filled by a kind looking older man and an equally kind looking older lady. As a the norm, the prosecution go first outlining the offence and reading the victim statement out. I was dismayed that the statement had obvious lies on it such as why the victim had moved. It was blamed on me instead of the real reason of health and that we had parted in January and not August but even that ended up helping me too. As it was laid out to the judges I suddenly felt a huge surge of emotion and burst into tears. Although clearly events spiralled out of my control I am still ashamed of my actions and hearing them all listed was absolutely awful.
Then it my turn, or my solicitor’s more precisely. She was a fine litigator who I had spent a long time researching before hiring her. She didn’t let me down. She explained at great length the ‘on again, off again’ nature of the relationship and how it had been so difficult for me to know where I stood in the relationship. She went to great lengths to explain my troubled past and clear Abandonment issues that were at the route of the problem. She provided my evidence of joint trips to Barcelona in April and Majorca as late as August. That went well for me. She handed in my councillor’s report and finally even decided to read the email from the victim asking for leniency. Then my friend the Probation Officer stood up and spoke well of me too and suddenly I didn’t feel like the criminal I assumed everyone there would assume I was
The judges retired for maybe 10 minutes, possibly the worst 10 minutes of my life. But I needn’t have worried. They returned and I stood up. The kind looking older man spoke to me directly. He didn’t feel the offence was serious enough for a custodial sentence to be imposed and didn’t feel I warranted more than the obligatory Restraining Order and a small fine which was reduced due to my full co-operation with the Police and my Guilty plea. He spoke with kindness and compassion and told me to keep up all the good work I’d completed since the charge. He told me I had to somehow learn the skills my parents had neglected to teach me. He then wished me luck. I asked if I could speak and I thanked them profusely, apologised to them and to the victim, and told them how the events of the past were linked to my present and that I would keep working on the issues that led me here for as long as it took
And with that the nightmare was finally over. I thanked my Solicitor, the Probation Officer and even the Prosecution gave me a cheeky smile. I don’t think I have ever been so tense, relieved and happy all at the same time. For the first time in nearly 2 years all my stars aligned at once.
Now, as Christmas Day (or Sunday as I call it) is but minutes away and I face the task of filling in that blank piece of paper that will become my new life, the hard work starts. It can’t be worse than the old life. I’m clean and committed to whatever the future holds. It will be scary and lonely at times but I will cut it. I will survive and I will be happy again one day, so the sooner this holiday is over the sooner I can start getting on with that.
I will cope, I will heal and I will change. There is simply no other option.