Having started to recount what was a very difficult time in all of our lives I feel the need to keep going; that time’s been on my mind a lot today and all sorts of things have come back into my head. I have smiled and laughed a lot today, I do every day really, but I have felt sad thinking about how life was for Luke during and after his ‘ASBO’ period.
Having spent 2 months in a cell; where I could only see him once a fortnight and having to hear him upset and wondering just how he was going to get through Luke came home. As I mentioned he came home to yet more pressure from the local police; there was no ‘you’ve done your time’ attitude – oh no the conditions of the ASBO hadn’t been agreed so they wanted to keep the pressure on.
Luke was scared to leave the house for quite a while, certainly in the daylight. We continued to attend court in front of a District Judge brought in to deal with the troublesome youths in the area. Each time we went in general I’d say – well what if? So on the being with more than 3 people thing – what if he’s in a bus queue? That’ll be breaching the order. The judge would agree and send us away.
The ‘assault’ Luke was arrested for came up in front of the same judge – Luke had I believe punched someone who was hitting ten bells out of a friend after an England football match – the judge was actually quite angry with the police and bestowed a 12 hour referral order on Luke. Next to no punishment; but another crime on Luke’s record.
The ASBO was finalised in January 2004 after the police went to the bother of employing a barrister; the upshot was that in the end we all sat in a room; a police Sergeant, legal people, Luke and I and came up with something that was going to be acceptable to both sides. Not that what was in retrospect a barbaric order was workable or acceptable.
Luke was joined on the ASBO list by 2 of his friends; one of them, Gavin is living his life now in a way that would make Luke beam with pride. Married with a beautiful wife and 2 adorable sons he’s a young man to be proud of.
We had more drama with Luke in the March/April of 2004; he had taken to going out again and came in late one night. In the early hours Alexandra knocked on the bedroom door to say Luke was in real difficulty. When I went out onto the landing he was on the floor – his knee cap was round the side of his leg! Not a good sight at all!
An ambulance was called and off we went to the hospital – Luke was given gas and air – goodness that wasn’t a good thing! He was loud to say the very least! We were sent to a ward for some reason where combined with the wait in A & E we waited for 12 hours before being sent for an X-Ray. Where we seemed to be put at the back of the queue. Outrage and a load voice pointing out we’d been there for 12 hours got us to the front of the line.
Luke’s ligaments had detached from the bone – he said at the time he’d fallen – of course nothing was that simple with that boy of mine! He’d kicked someone, yep another sort of fight, and this was the end result. The rest of the family were going on holiday that day and off they went. I actually now feel quite ashamed that I joined them the next day leaving Luke with his Dad to go and have a 4 hour operation. I’d do that differently if I had the chance over again.
As the knee was healing Luke decided he’d take a lad who’d given a statement against him to task; that of course was reported to the police and was totally stupid on Luke’s part. But, he didn’t hurt the lad, just chased him with his gammy leg. He also then took offence at the way an officer was treating one of the other ASBO lads one evening. For his troubles he was sprayed in the face with tear gas (I think) thrown to the floor by his throat (he had fingerprints on his neck) and arrested.
At 17 things had changed and I wasn’t allowed to see him; in pain with his leg and in a police cell for 3 nights if Luke had been charged with murder on the Monday morning he’d have plead guilty. So it was that after staying out of trouble for a good 9 months Luke was sent away again, this time for 3 months.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned that one of the key aspects of the ASBO was that Luke and his 2 mates had their faces on posters plastered across the town. One out of town store accepted my plea to remove the posters as the lads were allowed into the area they were located in.
In retrospect these ASBO’s were an absolutely awful way to treat these lads – they were 16 – 19 and yes a bit of a nuisance; but they weren’t making anyone’s life a misery. I don’t know the ins and outs of the other 2 but Luke didn’t steal, he didn’t hurt, yes he was a pain in the ar*e but this was barbaric. He was in a cell next to a murderer this time; a lad who’d set fire to a tramp! Relative ‘crimes’?
The local ‘police’ didn’t lose their interest in Luke at all when he came home; a particular female Police Community Support Officer seemed to want to make him her life’s work. He bounced a basketball i a way she didn’t approve so she took it away from him. It wasn’t his so he tried to tap it out of her hands – he hit her arm as he did. The result of that little episode? He was arrested for assaulting a police officer. He called me in floods of tears to say the police were at the door one afternoon; he presumed he was going back to a cell. No cell this time, but another conviction and a fine in excess of £700.
The same PCSO had him arrested after he swore within her hearing, not at her, just near her. We had a knock o the for at 4am for that one; for an offence that wasn’t one that carried a sentence. He was carted away and had more time in front of the magistrates – and a £500 fine.
I must mention that 2 wonderful local shop keepers came to court on Luke’s behalf when the ASBO was being worked on; I’ll always be grateful to them for their kindness.
I don’t think ASBO’s are around any more, and the more I think about what happened to Luke – yes a lad who was a nuisance, the more I’m appalled I actually wonder how some of those involved can sleep with a clear conscience.
As far as our society and the legal system who introduced the awful orders go a few words from the very wise Nelson Mandela
“The true character of a society is how it treats its children”
I’m just so pleased that Luke was truly happy in Thailand – it was as if he’d found is place. He had the time of his life for the 3 months he was there.