Tag Archives: lawyer

Kweku Adoboli / UBS/ The week review

23 Nov

UBS weak link Kweku Adoboli, saw himself star down the barrel of a 7 stretch this week in a dock once graced by I, at Southwark Crown Court.

Having already served over  a year of his sentence, he must now while away another 2 and a half years, although come the summer he will be allowed to begin home and town leaves. Quite how devious or truly criminal he is, is a topic that has been left in the calm, hysteria free hands of the  The Sun, The Mirror and the Daily Mail.

For many outside of the City of London, this was one of a number of obvious calamities still being committed by the arrogant swaggering bowler hat types.

Is Kweku really a criminal in the true caricature style we associate them with? His swag bag seemed a little empty for a man who is accused of a £1.4 billion fraud; for this isn’t a fraud with the intention to steal £1.4 billion, merely corporate financial manslaughter, where a sledgehammer was being used to crack nuts. What does 7 years buy you in other walks of life?

7 years is the average total sentence of Rapists in the UK.

7 years allows you to kill a man driving dangerously with intent.

7 years allows you to stab a man in the neck with a bottle for GBH.

Kweku will serve 7 years for doing his job badly in an environment where blind eyes were turned when the money came in.

Perhaps those blind eyes should too be punished, for creating the conditions and culture where deceit, and smokes and mirrors are employed.

As is likely, UBS will see no more criminal imprisonments amongst their staff. They will pay large fines and duck down below the parapet again for a number of years, before the next cataclysmic economic asteroid rocks the financial capitals of the World; where they hope their mistakes are the least and they can join the queue without making regulatory eye contact.

In the meantime Kweku will don the green trousers of a prison orderly, tamed –  for now.

I walk the streets of London once again, but these days my attire is a little more blue collar. My hands have paint and the callouses upon my palms are no more a Cityboy’s than they are a writer’s. Time moves every bit as fast once more, I wish I had some time to stop and reflect upon my life. A one year sabbatical seems a nice idea again 🙂

 

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Back to Prison & Christmas Eve

5 Jun

My time away was a pleasure and I feel exhausted after it all. It might sound a little bizarre but I was ready to return when I did. I don’t want to be in prison but you learn to accept it. It’s not the hell its characterised on television and I know I don’t have a huge amount of time left, most of all its a comfort zone I’ve grown accustomed too. With friends around you and zero of life’s pressures I could handle a little more of Ford.

On my return I hear the Prison Block has been active, with a number of inmates being shipped out. The worse news was hearing that Paddy a young Irish Traveller was caught with booze and stuck on the first bus out of here. It’s tragic news as he works on the Servery and ensures all inmates get proper portions of food. 4 pieces of stuffing, two helpings of cake, double pie, extra meat, you name it he’ll serve it. When he’s working, bring Tupperware.

In other news a young lad Ali is sent packing after he’s snuck in an internet dongle and plugged it into one of the PC’s in the Chapel. He has subsequently used it to access the web and it’s world-wide hub of infinitely more fun things than there are here. Pictures are found on it of kids. HIS KIDS, rumours spread fast that he has in fact been accessing Child Porn. It’s amazing how warped chinese whispers can get. He is now in harm’s way if he remains here. He is moved possibly now for his own safety too.

My cellmate has had some bother in our absence after a set-to with a prisoner about mail issue times. My cellmate being the mail orderly, sees him pestered constantly about the prison about whether someone has received a letter. Complete strangers who have never met him, greet him with the uncomprehendingly stupid query:

“Have I had any mail today?”

Maybe, or maybe you’re one of the other 400 who haven’t. Who are you?

Jamie and I find out the identity of the protagonist and knowing him personally we have a chat to him.

As I walk around the prison today, a few guys know I’m back from my first home leave and stop to see how I am doing. One, Simon (7 years – Drugs) notices my face is a little more tanned than it should be in a December. I give him: “No Comment”. I see him mouth “Fake Tan” as I wheel away.

Christmas Eve

Short of nearly 200 inmates, the kitchen have taken the opportunity to cut down on its kitchen prep for meals. Consequentially leaving a large number of prisoners more dissatisfied than usual. A cooked breakfast of 3 battered chicken burgers and 2 hash browns struggles to form part of a healthy diet, even with a sensibly placed hard-boiled egg rolling around the plastic plate. I wonder what the heart disease NHS bill is for patients from HM Prisons.

I catch a cold on my home leave and am feeling a little groggy; finding time for 40 winks to kill the odd hour of your sentence here though is never a drama. I use some of the morning to put together a letter in spanish to my South American cousin. Based in Peru and Bolivia, formerly of Venezuela, Spain, France and Britain, his command of languages is formidable. The son of my mother’s late sister, I often think about him at important times of the year. I want to reach out to him more and see him closer to the family. Time will tell.

I glance across at a TV Guide, these are often like gold dust in prison, but we have happened upon a couple of them. As usual, there isn’t a good deal of choice. Tonight, around the world, billions of people are snuggling up with loved ones or sitting down with family preparing for Christmas Day. For those of us ‘Behind the Door’, tomorrow is another day.

 

A day after delight

3 Jun

I spend awhile this morning in the drop in centre, my office since I transferred to the Diversity team helping ex servicemen utilise the charitable provisions in place for them. I talk to the senior officer Sheridan about my life thus far. He is a sound guy and a man I won’t call a screw. I have more in common with him that 50% plus of the prisoners here. He is respectful and takes the time to listen. Possibly for him hearing a frank tale of an inmate’s journey helps him understand those his job involves managing. An informed Prison Officer is undoubtedly better equipped to do his job.

In the Billet, days away from his Christmas home leave, in fact days away from his first trip outside in 3 years, a young lad Jamie we’ve befriended has been contacted by outside probation and told that due to the emotional nature of Christmastime and the fact that his probation office will be closed – it’s not wise for him to be allowed home. This is spite of him being given the green light weeks ago, raising his hopes and making plans at home. Mum was happy, the brothers too, their boy Jamie was coming home for Turkey.

Now, he’s devastated. But… his attitude in response to it all speaks volumes about his character and how he has matured. Having friends who won’t see outside for a decade  makes him philosophical about his situation. To an outside observer however, it’s obvious, moments like this can have a hugely negative impact on the long term rehabilitation process. You wouldn’t be wrong to suggest this creates a contempt toward the ‘Superiors’ negligence. This arbitrary approach, a top down attitude really has no place in the Prison and Probation Service. It ignores the individuality of every situation – one size does not fit all.

Back to Jamie, he will not know be rewarded for his hard work. I buy some extra mince pies instead to put a smile on his face come the 25th of December.

I count down the days until the 18th, my pretend Chrimbo, 4 days away until I can sleep in my own bed and be fawned over by the women in my life.

 

His and Her’s tale

1 Jun

Her Tale:

My heart is beating so fast, I can feel every single note. Every beat draws time closer to that one moment.

One second closer, two, five….

I think of the last time I was this nervous. My driving test, opening my results letters or waiting to hear what happened to my Masey in my absence.

In those times, as it is for me now; my palms are sweaty, anxiety rips through my very being.

I’m agitated by the woman next to me, loudly telling her children they aren’t having sweets.

I’m agitated by the two men talking at length and at volume about their plans tomorrow.

I’m agitated.

I’m hot and my pulse is racing.

There is a fear within me. A fear I dare not profess to anyone but my own inner demon. I’m scared, I’m scared if it’s not the same.

Finally, the doors open and I’m allowed to walk through with the other visitors into a large square room, tables, chairs and a booth for food at the end. I take in nothing else but my thoughts.

I choose two seats that are together. I sit and I wait.

I wait a little longer

5 more minutes pass and men begin to shuffle through a door at the top of the hall. My attention is on nothing else but that door. Behind that door lies my hopes, my dreams and my future.

Or it crushes them.

THERE HE IS!

I see him, I run.

I run

I jump.

His arms are around me and I’m overcome with emotion AND love. I’m back in his arms.

 

Life in Prison

28 May

So today is 3 months since I was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court and it feels like a good deal longer. Life is not tough, though a little boring at times, still, I can exercise each day, read the papers/books and have  a laugh. It’s just that I can think of more constructive things I could do with my time. I’ve seen a lot in my time inside and experienced such a spread of diverse peoples, a range perhaps I shall not see in my life had I not been “Behind the Door”.

I’m entering a writing competition with the literary class, I spend a bit of time today, completing my entry. I also am introduced for the first time to ‘Speed Solitaire’. A variation on conventional computer solitaire, using the one card draw method; by two inmates in the Education Department and who use my office, who are counting down the days until their release.

**BAD NEWS**

I’ve run out of visits and am likely to have sunday’s visit with my sister knocked back. How irritating that the most efficient system, in fact possibly the only efficient system is the visits booking schedule. I do still have an ‘Emergency Visit Order’, I am waiting to hear that it is still valid. The prison has cracked down on abuse of the system of late after complaints made by some inmates who missed out on visit slots. I’d sympathise with these grasses if I didn’t already know these same people were the type to be so badly organised that they have left something as important as arranging a visit with ‘loved ones’ to the last minute.

I speak to R finally and things seem okay, it’s a weight off my mind. She lets slip a surprise that she may be home earlier than expected. I’m thinking she probably had to do this just to appease me, like a spoilt child. Back in the kitchen, someone has stolen our worktop and our wheely bin. The residents of G2 are fuming at this inconsiderate action. Rather than ask prison estates to replace items, aggrieved inmates just nick someone else’s. To demonstrate the intelligence of those that dwell here, the billet stereo was left plugged in and put on the wet sink top. Perhaps this says more about the lack of training in practical skills than in the lack of common sense present. Who nicks a bin?

Tonight in the gym I train without my Ford Mr Fix It; the last time I saw him today he was off to pick up 10 bottles of Vodka. I think the worse when he doesn’t show up for training, With his release dates approaching its not like him to miss training. I needn’t have worried though, he falls into my cell stinking of booze to borrow some pegs for his washing after evening roll call. With only weeks to go until his release an ineligible for tag, any nickings of adjudications he picks up now will have little or no effect on his release date as he will be gone before they are sat before a judge. He therefore cares little about bending rules in his final days. He is a funny fella despite his criminal temerity and I enjoy hanging about with him. I like knowing how the real prison works and he can be assured I am very good at keeping mum; it’s why I’m here.

 

Lord Taylor of Warwick Part 2

27 May

A hurricane is a brewing – I use this as an ideal opportunity to dry some clothes outside. On the flipside it could also be a terrible time to do so but I’ll take my chances.

On the news, I hear Lord Taylor of Warwick the Tory Lord jailed for expenses fraud has been given his electronic tag to observe a Home Detention Curfew. To the lay person, this means being released on tag. He will have to observe strict curfews or face being recalled to prison. Today is the 3 month point of my own sentence. Had I only received a year I too would be out today. I didn’t, so I’m not.

Anyone with a sentence between 6 months and 4 years is eligible for early release on tag. This means in the best case scenario an inmate can spend up to four and  a half months doing the remainder of their bird at home. This is providing they have a home to go to, are wanted their and not deemed a danger to the community. Importantly, it clears up bedspaces in our crowded system and makes for  a cheap solution to containment.

Lord Taylor’s first priority was to do some work for penal reform charities on his release:

“If anyone listens to me” He says.

It’s a strange turn of events when a member of the ruling elite need to be disgraced to better understand the plight of the contemporary mass and become more in tune with society. Sadly it also becomes that bit harder to be listened to when you find yourself in such a situation. He aims to see inmates categorised while in the court cells after sentencing. The burden this will ultimately relieve on strained resources would be of untold value. After sentencing, the 5 hours plus sat on a wooden bench in an empty space could be more efficiently used by HM Courts and save having to send sane non violent offenders on a prison merry-go-round just to have them wind up at the correct nick weeks later than need be. George is a case in point. I get the impression that a good deal of problems in the UK Prison system could be eradicated if better use of the money alloted was made.

I busy myself in the education office reminding inmates of the importance of manners when they demand I put their names down for the Education Gym session – many of whom are ineligible anyway. It falls on deaf ears, coincidentally I tend to forget to write their names down too, at just about the same time.

I can’t help but think of R, she sent me 5 emails today, I worry I’m being harsh. I have continued to write to her, I just haven’t sent the letters. I need my outlet, my writing keeps me occupied and it helps me vent the thoughts I don’t feel comfortable telling those around me here.

Today I am halfway to home leave.

 

 

Paperchase – Coventry City FC – Labour MPs

24 May

On your last day here, you do what’s called  a paperchase. It’s all the sign off formalities to clear you for release. Only the guys leaving on tag take it real serious, being released early is deemed a privilege and not a right. Kick up a fuss over this and you could wind up staying for a little longer. For those who are leaving at their halfway point, they can use the paper as bog roll and still walk out the next morning. I imagine a fair number of people enjoy doing the paperchase as it’s that sense of last day excitement you have seen so many others go through.

I’d walk around with a bit of paper if it meant I was going home tomorrow.

The summertime seems to have ended, it’s proper damp here.

It’s making it that bit harder to clean our clothes. The heating isn’t on and the rain prevents drying clothes outside. Struggling to improvise here, in order to simply wear clean underwear – just like a holiday camp eh? The prison has now run out of ‘clean’ towels. So this 5 star resort is now a little shabby, unhygienic charade of a prison. The screws and management can’t sort out the simple matter of laundry; what good are they doing to the minds of young criminals?

At lunch one inmate is put on report after refusing to attend his afternoon work shift. He demands fresh clothes or access to cleaning and drying facilities. His work place is the gardens, so his only pair of prison greens (We are only allowed one pair of work/cargo trousers) are sodden. I don’t think asking for access to clean clothes warrants being put on report and being threatened with extraction to a closed prison.

While the public would wish us to break rocks for the rest of our days, with no opportunity for reform that sees us with the potential to live better lives* – being able to wear clean underwear and workwear is surely no mean stretch of requests; particularly given we are the (relative speaking) well-behaved bunch at Category D establishments.

*I mention this little barb after listening to a Radio 5 Report on an ex footballer being allowed on day release to train with Swindon Town FC. Ex Coventry City footballer Lee McCormick.

The inmate in question has served the good part of a 7 and half year sentence for death by dangerous driving. The tragedy took away two young lives after a professional footballer had been drinking before getting behind the wheel. It is awful and a man with no previous criminal history will be haunted for the rest of his days by this. Some call him a murderer, not a fair tag and not truly realistic but it is an additional punishment our society puts upon such people. I have met a handful of men inside for similar sometimes less culpable offences and often wonder to myself what is an appropriate sentence?

Coppers, Bus Drivers all sorts of perfectly sane, tax paying individuals you would happily have a conversation with and invite into your home. How would you sentence them?

In writing this, I do not seek to undermine the pain and suffering Phil and Amanda Peake have gone through, the parents. Nor would I wish to ignore the tremendous work they have done since the deaths of their two young children to highlight the dangers of drink driving.

Radio 5 gets me going – a separate story on the workings of prison wages, brings a lady on the phones with zero experience of the workings of the justice system yet heavily armed with critical information that has no foundation in truth.  This lady with no exposure or grounding in life this side of the parapet begins:

“Old people don’t get what they have…” Unsure of what that has to do with the prison debate…What do 80 year olds need with free weights or Methadone?

With many of us wearing dirty underwear, using filthy, pubic lice infested towels NOT WATCHING Sky, we are criticised for the lack of productive hours we put in – a prison management issue not ours. Then the very same people who spout this rhetoric demanding longer sentences are the farthest back in the list of people prepared to offer an olive branch at the end of it, to let us earn a second chance.

These holier than thou types seem to brand any person inside, a violent thug or dangerous predator. It is for this reason primarily that the Blue Collar inmates here LOVE seeing a ‘Well to do’ type fall from grace. Do I blame them?

Put it this way, hearing an ex Labour MP has today been charged with £60k worth of expenses fraud puts a smile on my face.

 

18th August

14 May

National Duvet Day – well it isn’t, it should be NAtional Prisoners do Nice Things Day. Armed with the signed General Application form I make for the property reception at 6.30 pm. Inmates at Ford have between 6.30 and 7pm on a weekday to collect inbound property. Not a lot of time in a prison of 500 + fellas and with a regularly changing population.

The same guard as before greets me – my bedding Nemesis. He tries to reject my approach to withdraw my duvet, informing me again of the unreported ruling. Water off a duck’s back here.

I’m steadfast Eddie.

I slide forward the paperwork. My finger heads toward the date on the application and then to the signatory: The SO.

“The SO didn’t feel fit to highlight this new ruling, can you show me your paperwork that over-rules this?”

He relents. The man I refer to in impression than by name. He looks as if someone has fixed a clamp to his forehead and chin and then been stretched. All the while deprived of sunlight, as his brain is removed from the rear of his cranium. A skinny zombie is  a kind comparison.

YES – I think, I wait with my breath held as he unfurls the quilt with the fire codes there for all to see. I can feel them uniting with me. A collection of codes screaming:

“GIVE ME TO MASEY”

….and then, a smirk becomes a half smile across his face; as he looks at the label on the possession I prize so dearly.

He slides my application toward him, studies it closely and looks again to the label on the duvet.

The application is pushed toward me as he smiles and says:

“The numbers don’t match”

…………………………………………………………………

As I wander away from the reception, tail firmly entrenched between my legs; Andy an education orderly calls my name. He ushers me over, tells me to grab a bag and come across to his cell. I do as he says and then bimble over to his block.

He greets me with a spare duvet.

“It may need a wash Fam” He says.

“You want anything for it?” I ask.

“Don’t be tripping, workmates innit” I get back.

Loosely translated, I have a free duvet.

Andy – you legend.

I clumsily slip back to the billets with my illicit bedding and get to making up my sleeping arrangements with a buzz of excitement. Spurs are on the tv tonight, just beforehand I pick up the bluebox and call Mum. It’s turned out nice again eh?

 

Country Tracks

23 Mar

A long tiresome journey, memorable for new vistas and a desire to vomit. Travel sickness has never been far away in my life.

As a kid my mother used to give us these travel sickness tablets, ‘Joy-Rides’ they were called. Sounds like ecstacy, the taste was anything but. In fact, I remember my anxiety forming on those mornings before travel, because of these tablets. The taste was awful, bitter, it set a pretty poor tone for the next few hours. God forbid you were in my way.

As we pull into my new home, it requires a sharp left turn into what looks like an old military base, being thrown into the cupboard door wakes others from their slumber. The reason why Ford struck me as a military base, is because it was. (Ex RAF and former Naval School)

That’s where the connection begins and ends. This place lacks order from the top down, riots only months before and the Governor has been named as a catalyst in a suicide inquest at a former nick. Inmates walk by, on what I assume is the start of their afternoon working day. They cross a public road to a second compound the other side. We are unloaded outside a reception hut and led into a back room before the drawn out reception process is put into (in)action once more.

6 1/2 Hours Later

Still sat in the waiting area trying to work out whether I’ll go for the Smoker’s Induction Pack or the Non-Smoker’s pack. You’re charged for the receipt of the item and in it contains a handful of items that you may want while you wait for Canteen delivery. With little but squash, polos and chewy bars, I’m not impressed by non-smoker’s pack. I request tobacco in the hope I’ll be able to use it as currency in the meantime.

Our bags in our possession we plonk them on trailer and wheel the items up to portakabin 200 yards away. Sheltered from the rain, we are given our ID cards and sign some paperwork. It’s here I have my first real conversation with a screw since coming to prison. One by one we head into an office and are asked a few questions by a man in a uniform different to mine. It dawned on me at this point, quite how little interaction there is between the Prison Service and inmates. Do they have a clue what really goes on in their workplaces?

New Pad

The cells are double rooms, or should I say; twin – in an old army style billet accomodation. Spartan, dirty and bunked with a smoker, I’ve no idea where the mail box, phone or showers are. I sit on my new bed and think about the guys I said goodbye to today. I wish I was back at Wandsworth. I know this feelings will subside but for now i’m not happy. I’ve heard this happens a lot to those moved to open conditions. There is a sense of protection one feels in a closed establishment. Taken down to dinner in the Dining Hall, I am very well aware how few prison guards are on duty and quite how many prisoners are walking about unhindered. Ford holds 510 on average, at the evening meal time, I see at least 300 of them.

I’m still in prison and anxiety builds. Suffocating with having to process this crowded new environment. The last time I was in such a busy environment inside, I had witnessed some severe gang violence. D Cats are not known for this type of event, but new in such a place, the heart rules the head.

Irrational, chips and a burger placate me.

 

 

The Land of Oz

20 Mar

Morning comes and a loud bangings woken me up. An inmate across the landing from me plays a drum solo on his door. I’m sufficiently confident enough here now, to want to find out who this person is and shout down his face.

I’ve got a short fuse today from a light sleep the previous night. Thoughts of getting out of this place and onward into the future’s freedom, dreams that stir excitement and keep your eyes from settling shut. I must have dreamt of an open prison and the lairy landing neighbour’s ripped me out of my ‘Happy Place’.

The doors are opened and I go first to the landing office to check my pay. I’m now doing two jobs and I should therefore see a preferential level of pay. At least more than those on unemployment wage here. I knock, I wait, ignored and wait.

The door opens eventually. I’m ignored a little more, then I ask to check my wages.

Surprise – I’ve not been paid.

More displeased than before, I drown my sorrows in a huge bowl of cereal.

I’d been told my pay would be amended by today, I’m due wages from the day my working career had begun. Payments are generally made daily onto your account, providing they are inputted in the first place. Which it seems has been the case here. Not 1 day, but on more than 15 occasions. That’s an attention to detail at omitting to make payment that the Greek Government admire! I could make a point that this is:

Obtaining services by deception……

But let’s be honest here, I’m not going to am I? No. The gym roll call comes round and the matter is forgotten about.

Darren and I grab a towel and a bottle of squash then head down to the end of the landing as per usual. A list is handed around where inmates visiting the gym write their names. Theres a lot of people today called X 🙂

I run off briefly and post D’s kids birthday cards and a letter for his missus, he meanwhile appends our names to that list.

Waiting for the screw to come along and let us through, I smirk as I see George join us for the gym. I smirk from remembering the first time I spoke to him here. Just a week back I and the others headed back from a gym session when George, a tall Aryan looking man remarks that in the City he would pay £80 a month for that in Cannon Street. I know the gym he’s talking about, a uni pal took me there once. We strike up conversation but the entire time I’m thinking:

“WHAT THE HELL IS HE IN HERE FOR?”

Got to be on remand for murder, a Wifer* or similar. The more I look at him the more I see a picture of married lunacy exploding in a fitful of rage. His strong manner, his swagger… Murder or attempted, I think its’s got to be.

*A ‘Wifer’ is a man who has done his Wife in.

George has done none of these things, your mind wanders when you rock up some place like this. He fiddled the books he was overseeing while managing to cut their budget year on year. Doing a good job, so had a little play. Owned up, paid right up, a guilty plea a year old and with a baby less than a week , still got a hefty bird. Who says Judges are soft. Despite paying it all back, the Crown are trying to get money he earned legitimately through his own business in the years before too. I wonder if the incentive of bankruptcy or bailiffs chasing you on release is a good motivation to stay crime free or if it poses the threat that it may make reoffending more likely? I’ll leave that thought open. My name’s being called.

“M*S**!”

What have I done I thought? My name is yelled out again.

Is it my letters?

My stash of photos?

My Diary?

The uniform approaches

Its one of the friendlier screws, an old east end dog:

“What have I done?” I ask

“Nothing you tart – pack your bags, you’re moving”

Flashback to the verbal nudge and the wink from the D-Man last night.

“Where my off to Gov?”

I’m off to FORD!