ACYO – I WAS THERE YEARS AGO
“Innocent as hell, Innocent as hell and its not a lot of fun being here.
I can see a few faces I’d rather see, be a few places I’d rather be than here.
The judge says, “down you go boy, not to be seen for five years”,
he says, “Think yourself lucky, I know it was you, that you are sent down for five year too…”
From “Innocent as Hell” by Scheme on Black & Whites album
Down the stairs you go, back door for the bus to Polmont YO
New label over your life ACYO,
with the cry of the con “I was there years ago”
“Mr Patterson, on the two counts of Possession with the Intention to Supply, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 you have been found guilty and I hereby sentence you to 12 months on each charge, to run concurrently.”
I honestly thought I would walk. It was November 1989. My guilty verdict had taken the jury all of 45 minutes to come up with three months before. Three months in which probationary and social work reports had to be carried out so the judge could decide the most suitable punishment. As usual, they came up trumps as I did come from a good home, and I was pretty intelligent. However, I had made the mistake at my trial of dressing in a suit, knowing more than the drug squad officer called to testify (he had only been with them two weeks in fairness), and was able to quote my judicial enquiry transcript better than the Procurator Fiscal. That’s not smart when you are trying to convince them you are just a junkie that needs a break.
So how on earth did I, the partially private school educated by from the east end of Glasgow end up standing before a Sheriff in the new Glasgow Sheriff Court?
It was about 1am when I heard the shout, “paddy there’s the mob comin in.” I knew I had only moments but all I had on me was a couple of bags of speed and about nine 10ml temazepam tablets, not much in the greater scheme of things. I ran to the back window of D’s ground floor flat ready to make my escape, but as I pulled the curtain back, the grinning face of a DS officer was shining in the darkness. Pointing his torch in the window and shaking his head at me.
It was nearly 15 months previous to my sentencing. I had stashed the drugs, my own supply, in a matchbox under the mattress. I really was the only one in the house even remotely likely to have anything on me. It wasn’t even me they were looking for. I was just a face. However, they were expecting John to be there and to have a lot of drugs, which was stupid on their part because John never had a lot of drugs on him.
The room has been turned upside down twice and they had even checked under the mattress, but never far enough to find my stash. Just as they were finishing up they came back into the room they had me in. they had kept me back from Donna and the others so we couldn’t swap stories. I had been careful to avoid looking at anything and just stared at the ceiling.
DS Nondescript said, “has anyone checked under here?” I said nothing. He pulled mattress back, and for the third time, nothing was found. The shout came in from the hall to go as they were was nothing and no one of interest. They were not happy, As always they were convinced they would get a result, in reality, it was very rare that they did. DS Nondescript looked at me, pulled the mattress back all the way so the middle showed and looked like he had just won the lottery when he saw the matchbox.
Remember they were expecting to find drugs worth thousands, the total value of mine was about 30 quid.
I just grinned. Nothing else to it. “Mr Patterson, I am arresting you on suspicion of being in possession of a controlled substance, do you have anything to say?” I said nothing. Honestly, I just looked at him and smiled and said nothing. That bit is quite important because by the time it came to sitting in my Judicial Enquiry, (a smaller private gathering with Sheriff, Procurator Fiscal, my lawyer and myself, maybe some others I cannot remember) they said I said something. In their statements, I said, “It’s just a wee bit o speed for me an my mates.” I didn’t but that’s an admission of supplying. I was not stupid, and I knew the street rules when arrested. Say nothing! That was important because denying that at trial 12 months later, and being able to recall, word for word what took place. Being able to recall my judicial enquiry transcript and especially when I was asked regarding that, came back to haunt me. Drug addicts in 1988 in Easterhouse were not supposed to be smart. May I just point out that there was an awful lot of drugs in the 80’s in Easterhouse and very few large-scale successful busts. Stereotypes very rarely provide a foundation for good detective work.
As I was placed very gently in the back of the unmarked car, it was obvious that someone had reverse inflated their tyres, (had slashed them all with a knife) I just groaned. I knew I was getting slapped at the station for it. It was not unusual for police cars to be vandalized. They were in our territory and they didn’t belong. We had to let them know that. Four tyres and a very large scratch down the side of the car – all the way down the side.
“I take it I’m your payback for that?” I asked. “Yep!” DS Nondescript replied as he got in and closed the door.
I pushed my small lockback knife way down the back of the back seat, absolutely convinced I would be pulled up for it later that evening. I wasn’t. But then again I did get 12 months in prison so there was that.
And there you have it. A lot obviously happened in between the arrest and the sentencing, but that is for another time. Here I was on my way to prison to serve my sentence. Actually sentences as it was two twelve month sentences one for each of the charges for each of the drugs. They were to run concurrently though, which just means both were served at same time. It could have been worse, I suppose.
(ACYO is short for Assessment Centre for Young Offenders. It is located ion Polmont Young Offenders Institution and is the first port of call for newly sentenced young men, under the age of 21. Its purpose is to decide which category they should be assigned, and hence what prison they should be sent to.)
This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
If you would like to know more about the Christian response to addiction, or just need hope please click on one of the links below.
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church