June 13th 2nd attempt at Sentencing – Southwark Crown Court

9 Feb

Day 1:

The family in tow once more, fresh from my sister’s wedding three days before. Pockets stuffed full of wedding cake leftovers, if I’m going down today I’m going to do it with a sugar rush.

So I wake up at 5 am, nervous but excited; and thats saying something when you are about to be sent to prison. Didn’t have time for breakfast, but Dad’s brought me up a coffee. Just how I like it, 3 heaped spoons of wondrous caffeine and so little milk it paints your insides black. Once again I don the suit worn on these occasions many a time before. A charcoal, tailored number from TM Lewin. It was my favourite, but its a little glum these days, carrying the air of depression transposed upon it, with the wearers ill-fated life. The black tie, the white shirt, I pop these on too. Once again, I don’t want to walk into court like the barrel chested gangster I’ve been painted.

I pick up my phone and see an email from her. Her, my girlfriend, she’s in India now, working and having fun. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The hope is I can get my sentence done while R is abroad. By the time she comes back I should be in an open nick and getting home leaves. Still, this is all in the very distant future as far as I am aware right now.

I never got to reply. (No Wifi in court 🙂 How does anyone cope!? If you know me, you know how I need my media.)

We get to court and this time matters proceed as expected. The FSA have been told by the Judge that regardless of what they push me to plead to, it won’t affect his sentence.

I tuck into some cake during  a break, savouring the taste of icing, a taste I am little likely to experience for many a month to come. As it reaches lunchtime, the wheels of justic begin to turn. I am remanded in custody during the recess. I guess its soon going to be time to head off to the cells and Judge Rivlin QC senses its time I get used to that. It certainly shows his intention, but I don’t get to say bye to my family. No hugs no kisses. Thankfully, there are less with me today. My sister’s on her honeymoon with her husband and I’ve purposely asked others not to come. I can’t have people wasting their time and money to see me go to prison.

I hear Dad has had a row with my Barrister. To be honest, its not their fault and Dad’s clearly stressed by the whole affair. No matter how often I tell them this isn’t any great drama and life will get back to normal, he is my Dad and my Mum is my Mum. They will always worry, if I’m honest it is the realisation of this and not prison that has reformed me in recent years. Perhaps the prospect of prison but not the actual visiting of prison has the most rehabilitative effect. Its irrelevant though right now. I’m worried that my Barrister may be less than effective in mitigating my sentence to the Judge after this debacle. Its a genuine concern, who wants to sell something they don’t believe in or care for?

Despite being cake less, being held in custody over lunch was probably a good thing. It got me away from the sadness of others. Its horribly selfish I know. But its guiltfree 🙂

A sweet little Asian chap – a court guard, Jim, took charge of me. He led me down to the holding cells via a lift and a path taken by so many others from so many walks of life. It is an as exciting trip as perhaps one to a hospital kitchen maybe. Its neither frightening nor eventful. Its just sterile.

Lunch time

I had to hear from my legal team in a box room devoid of soul, beneath the court. Cuffed by one hand to a security guard and given a red high vis bib to distinguish between me and the non-criminals, I am taken from what is effectively a secure cupboard to see Ben and Richard. We have  a chat, there isn’t really much for us to discuss besides the obvious:

“What do you think…”

Moments later I am prepped and taken back up to Court 1. This must be the nearest I could ever get to imagining what walking the green mile must be like. This is my room 101.

Court 1

As I enter the courtroom, there my loyal family sat alongside press and members of the FSA. What a tragic combination. I wave to those I love, I’m smiling, I hope they can too.

I listen to Judge Rivlin paint what seems like a terrible picture of me, I think of my girlfriend as he speaks and I think how happy we are together. I think how amazing it will be when we are reunited again. My subconscious listening pricks up what seems like a man summing up. I’ve not been here but it seems like how I imagine it would summise.

I’m told all my sentences are to run concurrently – (at the same time) and he begins:

On the first 14 counts – 1 year

On the charge of misleading statements – 18 Months

On the charge of Money Laundering – 2 Years.

There isn’t anything else for him to sentence me on, I exhale a little, its come in exactly what I’d imagined, though a little more than I believe the FSA thought. While I’m stood there heart beating like a man looking down the barrel, adrenaline is racing through me, I calculate, I’ll be home in January.

There is nothing in my life I could compare the sensation of standing in a dock at a Crown Court waiting to hear your fate. I expect it feels very much the same if you are waiting for 1 month or 1 life. It depends on your own expectations and where you have come from in life to reach that point. But for me as I surveyed the deathly silent chamber of justice, waiting to know my own fate, I was conscious that the rattle of my life force pounding within my chest, must have been deafening for all including me. The realisation as I turned to wave at my family and say “Its all good” heading for the exit marked ‘Prisoners only’; was a flood of endorphins telling me that the end is now beginning.

In the basement

Not long after being taken back down to the courts holding cells, I am visited by my legal team again. They say an appeal isn’t worth it, even though I’m conscious that prosecution witness statements could be proved to be flawed, I accept my fate. Its what I’d pushed for. At least now I can begin to plan my future.

Its been 16 days since I drove my sweetheart to the airport and set her off to India, I just see this days event as another step closer to being united with my baby again. Richard tells me to call home as soon as I can, my family have taken the news badly, my best friend Mel is keeping their spirits up, she’s a gem, an extra sister. I’ll never be able to truly thank her for all the support she gives me.

The holding cell is 3 feet by 8 feet, with a wooden bench, a red button and NOTHING else.

“Mason’s in 13!” I hear. How ironic. Its the only time I hear my name or receive any sensory stimulation for a couple of hours, until I hear the unmistakable sound of a secure vehicle reversing into a holding bay somewhere. The siren and warning message shakes me too. I’m about to begin my journey to prison.

 

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