If you have read my about page (if not, why not? lol), you will see that I mentioned I had gone back to prison on purpose. One of the riskiest decisions I had ever taken. To be sent back to prison for a few weeks or months would’ve served no purpose whatsoever. To sort myself and my life out I needed at least 2-3 years behind the door. I therefore needed to commit a fairly serious level crime.
I was homeless at the time, actually street homeless, I was sleeping in the porch way of a church here in Norwich. I had also lost everything that was important to me. I had led a very selfish and irresponsible life and yeah I probably deserved to be in the position I was. I may not have thought that I would eventually end up on the streets but my behaviour, the risks and decisions I took along with the lifestyle I was living all conspired to fully put me on my arse. I have no one else to blame for this except myself. Yes!, I have a history of mental health and some low points in my life but ultimately we are responsible for the decisions we make. Before anyone thinks “why didn’t you ask for help?”, believe me I did. I had gone to see the council, they accepted me under the homeless legislation, however, because of my long history of violence and after a risk assessment, I was considered unsuitable for temporary accommodation, the council informed me it could take 3 weeks while they investigated further my claim. I was then referred on to a homeless agency who saw me straight away, their properties were full and to start the ball rolling they would need to see me on three separate nights sleeping rough to confirm I was homeless.
A few days later I was at a flat owned by someone I had been introduced to, I was asked if I would basically look after the door at a location where drugs were being sold. I was smoking heroin and crack myself at the time, so the offer of free drugs was too hard to turn down. I had become dissociated from reality, I was nothing and felt nothing. We had a quiet night and there were three of us smoking through the night, the flat owner, myself and a bloke I will call H. We were sharing a few prison stories and it hit me, what the fuck am I doing, this life ain’t me, drugs had hardly ever been an issue in my life, save a few recreational drugs through the nineties. Prison could be my way out, but how?
It was around six in the morning and H was in a bad way, he was ill and needed help. None of us had the money to get anything. Without incriminating myself, I could always turn to a bit of handy work should the need arise. It was then that I started to draw up my plan, a very risky plan because I would’ve ended up with a life sentence if I didn’t do it right. I had decided to rob a local newsagent at knife point, please know that I still feel bad about what I did, it wasn’t the shop owners fault he became a victim, I did write a letter of apology after I was sentenced to him explaining that at the moment in time he wasn’t an anybody, he was an object, an obstacle. I also knew that I was going to allow myself to be caught after I had given H whatever money I gained.
I needed to be caught in a way that provided reasonable doubt to it being me that committed the crime. I followed through with the robbery, got back to H gave him the money, changed my clothes and was heading back out, H said to me “where the hell you going” and couldn’t believe my answer. It went better than expected, I was arrested very close to the crime, this included armed officers, a lot of loud chaos, that would leave witnesses unsure as to whether I was the man who committed the robbery or the person they saw being arrested, this was important. At the subsequent interview I gave a prepared statement and refused to answer questions put to me, a while later I was charged, next day put in front of a virtual court and remanded in custody. I, like I would advise anyone to do, who knows they will be going crown, was waiting for the disclosure to come through to see exactly what I was dealing with. There appeared to be some confusion over the ID parade’s, there were 4 prime witnesses, two picked me out and two including the shop keeper wasn’t sure, reasonable doubt!!
This is when the games started, it was at the pleas and directions hearing, on a Monday, that I made it aware I would be prepared to plead guilty (no pleas put in at this stage) on the basis I get sentenced there and then without the judge requesting reports. It is usual practice, though not with all defendants, for a judge to request what’s known as a pre-sentence report (PSR) from probation. However, if you have a history of violence the judge can also request what is known as The ‘Dangerousness’ Provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, this provision gives the judge considerable discretion when it comes to sentencing, this opened the door to a possible discretionary life sentence: there are a number of crimes for which the maximum sentence for the offence, such as rape or robbery, is life imprisonment. This does not mean that all or most offenders convicted of those offences will get life. Parliament has made provisions that deal with how offenders who are considered dangerous or who are convicted of a second very serious offence may be sentenced to imprisonment for life or what is known as an extended sentence: An extended sentence may be given to an offender aged 18 or over when
- the offender is guilty of a specified violent or sexual offence;
- the court assesses the offender as a significant risk to the public of committing further specified offences;
- a sentence of imprisonment for life is not available or justified; and
- the offender has a previous conviction for an offence listed in schedule 15B to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 or the current offence justifies an appropriate custodial term of at least four years.
These sentences were introduced to provide extra protection to the public in certain types of cases where the court has found that the offender is dangerous and an extended licence period is required to protect the public from risk of harm. The judge decides how long the offender should stay in prison and also fixes the extended licence period up to a maximum of eight years. The offender will either be entitled to automatic release at the two-thirds point of the custodial sentence or be entitled to apply for parole at that point. If parole is refused the offender will be released at the expiry of the prison term. Following release, the offender will be subject to the licence where he will remain under the supervision of the National Offender Management Service until the expiry of the extended period. The combined total of the prison term and extension period cannot be more than the maximum sentence for the offence committed.
The prosecutor and judge accepted the terms of my guilty plea, however, they adjourned for sentencing. I went back a few weeks later for sentencing, the judge said that he appreciates that I went guilty as he has seen the evidence and he would not have been confident of a jury finding me guilty, he appreciated the fact that I did not want to put the witnesses through any more stress, he then went on to sentencing, he told me that the starting point would normally be 7 years, however, because I went guilty he gave me 5 years which I was happy with, perfect, but then he added, because I went guilty when I did I am entitled to a 25% discount, therefore ending up with 3 years 9 months, slightly shorter than I wanted.
These events are what took place, I can only publish my story, I can’t make anyone believe me. On a more important aspect I would like to say, I have not tried to glorify the events nor be inconsiderate of the feelings of the victim or whoever witnessed it, I have written as fact.