The bubble bursts
My husband and I lived in our little bubble of happiness. We were surrounded by lovely family and friends but generally on a week by week basis, it was just me and him, helping each other with chores and performing little acts of kindness that only we knew about and generally that only impacted our life together. We lived a simple life because we chose to. We were just happy with each other’s company and other than going to work, we spent every minute we could doing things together. As his children are grown up, we had nobody to please but each other. That bubble was obliterated with a single act of greed, the ramifications of which have been life changing for both of us…
And the nightmare began…
My husband, who I shall refer to as Harry from here on, was initially notified of this nightmare by his children. They had been contacted by Social Services in relation to the protection of their children from their granddad. Social Services proceeded to visit the homes of his grandchildren on several occasions and to have them interviewed in the presence of their head teacher and health officials. The intimation of the Social Services Officer was that the grandchildren needed protecting and even before Harry had been spoken to by anyone, Social Services were portraying him as a monster and predator. This lead to his children asking Social Services to refrain from using such language in front of his grandchildren and on one occasion lead to raised voices and the closing of the meeting, as his children questioned why there appeared to have already categorised him as guilty. This should have been our first alarm bell of the post-Savile hysteria but we just assumed it was a single over-zealous Social Services Officer.
It was the Social Services Officer who gave the phone number of the police officer to one of Harry’s children and Harry duly rang the police station the next day and was asked to come in for a ‘little chat’ the following day at 9am, which he did. The whirlwind of what was to be his downfall then began.
Within minutes of arriving at the police station, he was arrested, read his rights, removed of his personal belongings and put in a cell. Needless to say the ‘little chat’ was not as first portrayed. Also remember at this stage, he still had no idea what this was all about and why he was being arrested, other than it was for indecent assault. He sat in the cell assuming they had got the wrong man and this was all one big mistake. Two hours later he was still sitting in the cell waiting to be checked by the police health worker to make sure he was fit to be interviewed. Continuing to believe this was just one big mistake, he continued to comply with all requests made by the police. Unbeknown to him, the police had searched his car, removed his mobile phone and house keys and were in the process of arranging a search warrant for our home.
They then took him for interview. He was offered a duty solicitor but as he knew he had done nothing wrong, he just thought he would answer their questions honestly and as thoroughly as he could because still at this stage, he just assumed it was one big mistake. The mistake he made was actually answering over two hours of interview questions without legal support. If you take nothing else from this blog, if you or someone you know is being interviewed by the police, even if you have done nothing wrong, get a solicitor and legal support. He mistakenly thought he was being helpful and a decent person, evidently a mistake that most people who are not familiar with the workings of the police investigation system make. This, he now realises, was a big mistake….huge!
Whilst he was being interviewed, the police used his house keys from his car to gain access to our house. The house was searched for computers, photographs or I assume, any other evidence of paedophile activity. We have no computers at home and the only photographs we have are pictures of family and friends and their children. The police were obviously thorough or obsessive in the search of the house, as they managed to damage wardrobes and chest of drawers in their quest to find evidence. Later as we reflected on the invasion of our home, we started to think about what photographs do we have of family and friends children? Did we have any with them in the bath when they were babies or any of them running around in nappies? We honestly couldn’t remember. If we did, would this now been taken the wrong way and something extremely innocent turned against him? At this point your mind is in overdrive.
He was released on police bail mid-afternoon with a condition for no contact with any child. The word ‘unsupervised’ was not included. This therefore meant that if he was in a room with any child - including in a pub with complete strangers if a child was in there - he had to leave. Our solicitor later had this changed to ‘any unsupervised contact with a child’ but we spent 3 months effectively staying at home to make sure we were never in a situation which could have broken his bail condition.
When he told me what had happened to him after his first interview, he was incredibly upset and still in a terrible state of shock. He said that he felt the police officers were impatiently interrogating him and making him feel guilty for not being able to remember specific dates or events despite the fact that the accusations were from four decades previous. He was trying to be helpful by answering the questions but he is in his early 60s and was understandably struggling with trying to remember details whilst being put on the spot. They spent over two hours interviewing him and by the end his head was spinning.
Sleep that night was impossible for both of us, a situation we have just got used to.