"I've lived down South all my life, we used to live in an old prefab but ended up in a road where my family have been for about 25 years. We had a lot of arguments and I rebelled a bit. My dad didn't want a son - I've got 3 sisters - and I got into trouble when I was only eight. As soon as I was old enough I went to juvenile court but before that my mum used to march me back to shops to apologise for nicking sweets. As I got older I got into bad company. So much was happening at home. My dad was a long distance lorry driver and used to have arguments with mum about me when he came home. My mum worked at a bottle factory. We didn't see much of either of them. The baby sitters used to say 'we'll look after your three daughters but we're not looking after him again.' One of them would hold my face down under the bath which made me even more difficult to deal with.
My parents bought me a tape recorder one year but I broke into a school and stole a much better one. They said why did you want that when we bought you one? But I was insecure and didn't feel that I was wanted anyway. I wanted some love, not gifts. My mum couldn't handle me any longer and when I was 13 they put me on a five year Care Order with Social Services. As things got worse I went to Borstals and then on to prison.:
In 1983 a new family moved in. They used to have wild parties, all sorts went on. First off they thought my mum was being nosy. She was always at the window and they thought she was going to tell the Social about them. They didn't know she was having breathing problems. This family called her names and things but I became friends with them and used to go into their house which she didn't like.
Later on, though, these lads used to come round nearly every night throwing bricks and things. We'd call the police but they said they couldn't do anything. They'd look at my dad's broken windscreen and just laugh. We gave them names but they weren't interested. The lads used to come from a night club, sometimes 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning, putting bricks through bedrooms, living rooms, anywhere they wanted. Mum had the grandchildren staying. I was living with one of my sisters at the time but it got so bad that I went back and slept on the settee. One night they put a light to dad's van but because it was diesel it didn't go up, that's how serious things were getting. They would phone up with taunt's like ' nice windscreen on your dad's van', and so on.
They came again on January 13th at half past midnight and lobbed bricks through the front door. Mum said 'oh no, not again'. Dad jumped out of his chair and took a pick axe handle. I thought, shall I go running after dad or stay with mum? They both had bad medical conditions so I didn't know who to protect. In the end I told mum to phone the police and ran after dad. I found him round the corner on his knees. He was hysterical, shouting for someone to stop them, but no one was interested.
I just snapped. I grabbed his axe handle and chased after one of the lads. He was giving me the come-on as I was chasing him. I didn't know he was trying to lure me to his mates down the road.
When I caught up I just hit him once with the handle and right after I hit him the police came round the corner. If I'd seen them a couple of seconds earlier I probably wouldn't have done it but I was wound up so much that I just couldn't stop myself.
The police stopped and saw the lad on the ground. I said 'I did it, I'm not going anywhere' and I just got in the police car by myself . I was being driven back to the station and they had the radio on. They didn't have a chance to turn the volume down before it came over that he had suffered a cardiac arrest. He'd been drinking alcohol and had 235 milligrams in his bloodstream so they couldn't give him any drugs. They did what they could. I didn't hit him hard but where I'd hit him was a vulnerable spot and the drink had relaxed his muscles so he had haemorrhaged.
When I heard he'd died I was shocked. I didn't say anything for a long time. I was in tears . I just admitted that it was my fault and not my dad's. The people against my dad tried to say it was him as well and the police said we'd both gone off with pick axe handles but later they had to admit that wasn't right.:
Because of the threats my dad was arrested, supposedly for his own protection. He was in Winchester with me. We thought that he was going to be put in a hospital because he wasn't well but every time it came to court the victim's mates were there. We thought he'd only be in prison a couple of weeks but he ended up spending 15 months inside before he was acquitted. He was pretty bitter about that. Even the prosecution said he'd never done anything.
I got 7 years for manslaughter with provocation which got reduced to 4 on grounds of diminished responsibility. But I was so low in prison and on anti depressants. As far as I was concerned I had taken someone's life and I wanted to take my own. I didn't understand the difference between manslaughter and murder and for the 15 months before my trial, before I got a decent QC, I really thought I was going to be locked up for life. I knew I couldn't handle being banged up in a little box all that time.
A couple of days before the trial I was talking with a chaplain. They knew I was at risk and I was telling him how I thought life wasn't worth living. He was telling me that Jesus loves me and that my sins would be forgiven if I repented. I prayed a prayer and when I looked up at the window, suddenly the cell became filled with light. He saw it as well. It was like the sun passed over, backwards and forwards, waving. I thought I was cracking up - really cracking up, but I felt so good inside, like all the weight was being lifted off my shoulders. I had a new confidence that day.
I went to chapel that afternoon and I was shouting my head off. I've never felt anything like it. I got so full of confidence. I remember this group came in one day and nobody clapped when they finished so I started clapping and told the others to give them some encouragement. I never would have done that before. So many miracles have happened. When I was in prison I had a cyst on my head the size of a boiled egg but a friend that I met in Wandsworth stuck her hands on it and prayed and it went. The prison officers and people who used to make jokes couldn't believe it.
When I got back from the appeal court they gave me my parole papers straight away because I was already a month into parole. I had been going regularly to the chapel and bible studies. There were lots in Winchester but a lot of things got cancelled in Wandsworth where I spent the second half of my sentence. They didn't think I'd get parole so they weren't prepared with a release plan but the Chaplain, Jo Honour, said she knew about Stepping Stones. When they came up with a place in Bournemouth I said it was too late and I already had a place to go to. It was too dangerous for me to go back home. I don't think I'll ever go back to that area.
Now I'm trying to find a little flat so I can stay in the area and I do three days voluntary work at a charity shop, but I'd like to get a full time job. I'm a member of St Marks which is great. I think my hurts and rejections are still there a little bit but the Lord is working on them and I can never deny what God has done for me. I just wish I'd become a Christian sooner."
Date updated : 6th June 1997
Webmaster : David Daniel