Wednesday 31 May 2023

Would You Shop Your Own Child? (Draft)


In my heart of hearts, if I had known what would happen the day I shopped my son to the police - and that he’d never forgive me or talk to me again - I don’t think I’d have done it.

Probably like  Tania Garwood  I thought Oliver get a slap on the wrist, a few nights behind bars at the local police station that would teach him a lesson.

I didn’t realise he would go to prison, and I certainly didn’t realise he would go down for so long. It’s a terrible ­situation for any mother to find herself in, and I live with my decision every day.

Oliver ‘s father and I split up when he was four, but we tried to give our son the perfect upbringing. He went to £25,000-a-year public school - St Bede’s in Hailsham, East Sussex - but started dabbling with cannabis aged 14.

By the time he was 21, he was mixing with a bad crowd and clubbing all the time. His behaviour had become erratic, and when I found a wrap of brown powder on the kitchen table I knew I had to do something decisive.

Oliver was asleep on the sofa when the officers arrived. They searched him and found another wrap of brown powder - which turned out to be ecstasy. Then they took him outside and searched his car. What they found in the boot shocked me to the core - £10,000 worth of ecstasy. Oliver was in much deeper than I could ever have ­imagined.

Instead of a slap on the wrist, he was charged with possession with intent to supply and in April 2009 was given an 18-month prison ­sentence. The sentence could have been much longer, but the judge accepted Oliver was a ­runner for a drugs gang and not a ring leader.

I was devastated. It was the last thing I’d wanted to happen. Oliver hasn’t spoken to me since. He refused to let me visit him in prison and never replied to my many letters.

My biggest fear was that prison would make him even worse. Oliver was released after five months and went to live with his father, who gave him a job. He’s 24 now and has started his own ­property ­developing business. At least he’s got his life back on track, but it’s heartbreaking for me not being involved in his life any more.

I dread the future. One day he’ll get married and have children, and it will be even more painful. My younger son Oliver , 22, who still lives at home with me in Haywards Heath, tells me bits about Oliver life, but not much. He’s very loyal to his brother. It’s a strain on my relationship with Oliver father, but I think he understands why I did it.

In one respect, I still think I did the right thing. Oliver could have got even more involved with drugs and ended up dead or serving a much longer prison sentence. I know what an agonising decision  Tania Garwood  had to make.

As a parent, you have to teach your children that their actions have consequences. I know exactly what she is going through right now. It’s something I have to live with everyday.

People stop me in the street and say: ‘You did the right thing.’ But most days it doesn’t feel like it.