I had to do what was best for my boy, any father would right? Not that my son could see that, oh no, he disagreed with my plan from the start – But what choice did I have? No son of mine could go to prison, especially Larkford Prison - he’d be lucky to get through the first week alive.
When the call had come in that Ian had been arrested for the murder of a known dealer my first thought wasn’t of disbelief, it was that I had to keep him from going to Larkford. I could just imagine what would happen if the other inmates found out that he was my boy, the son of Detective Alan Simmons. It would be all of their Christmases rolled into one. I was responsible for putting a lot of people behind those bars. It wouldn’t take long for them to make the connection between Ian’s last name and the family resemblance. No, he wouldn’t last a week.
My sons struggle with drugs has been with us since he hit his mid-teens. When I realised he had a problem and confronted him about it of course it was my entire fault. Apparently because of who I am he was bullied, he went to a tough school, coppers kids were just below the fat kids and the gingers in the social structure. He started to rebel against anything that had a whiff of authority about it all with the aim of making his peers laugh and fitting in. Sadly his plan worked and Ian fell in with a crowd that could only be described as wrong.
Before long Ian was a barely walking, barely talking cliché. He moved through drug classes with far greater ease than he had ever coped with school classes. And I found myself doing everything I could to try and get him off that shite, of course my interference only pushed him further in. He picked up a few arrests over the years and every time I managed to get him off with a slapped arse, but this time it was different – They don’t dish out slapped arses for murder do they.
The only way I could see to keep him safe this time was to have him declared insane, have the little shite sectioned. Better he sees out his sentence on a mental ward than getting sent to Larkford to become one of my collar’s play things or end up with a shank in his neck and that’s what I told him, when I went in to see him after his arrest.
‘No fuck that, I’m not rotting in some room with a bunch of spaced out nutters for the rest of my days.’ Ian had protested as I’d outlined my plan. He seemed oblivious to the irony that it was because he’d spent nearly half of his life as a ‘spaced out nutter’ that he was now facing a future behind secure walls.
‘If you don’t go for an insanity plea I can’t protect you. It’s not going to take long for the inmates at Larkford to connect your name to mine.’ I said. ‘I don’t care how gaunt and broken you look and how chubby I’ve become there’s no denying that we look alike. Some of the people I’ve put away are never coming out, there’s nothing stopping them taking out a little revenge on me through you.’
‘So get me sent to another prison then. I’m not being locked up with the loons.’
‘Prisoners do re-offend when they’re released. There’s nothing to say that you won’t come across someone I put away in the past that’s now doing time somewhere else. You won’t be safe in prison.’
I looked sideways to Ian’s brief for support. I’d hired David Shipton, one of the best in the business. I’d seen some of my best collars slip through the system to freedom when Shipton had defended them. I’d paid through the nose to get him and agreed that I’d owe him a favour in future if a key piece of evidence needed to go missing for one of his clients – despite everything, I’d sell my soul for my boy. There was no way Shipton was ever going to get Ian off but getting him sent down as insane was going to be a tough job and so I needed the best.
‘Your old man’s right Ian, the best we can do for you is plead insanity, have a couple of doctors testify that you’re not all there and get you sectioned whilst I try to find ways of appealing this thing,’ Shipton said. ‘I’ll to be honest with you though, it’s going to be tough. There are three witnesses that saw you stabbing the victim in broad daylight and you were arrested covered in his blood. Now I can use this to our advantage, as only a mad man would viciously murder a person in public in the middle of the day…’
‘He’d stolen my money and not given me my fix,’ Ian interrupted, anger flashing across the back of his eyes. Sweat beads had formed lines across my son’s grey and furrowed brow. He shook with uncontrollable rage as he screamed out his words. In Ian’s drug addled mind the dealers crimes were worthy of a death sentence, perhaps convincing a judge and jury that he was insane was not going to be as tough as first thought. I looked at Shipton and the slight grin on his face suggested he’d just had a similar eureka moment.
I’d pulled a few strings and managed to have Ian placed in solitary whilst he was awaiting trial. Shipton had asked that my boy be bailed to my custody but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen.
As the trial approached we had a number of concerns. Shipton was concerned that regardless of any doctor’s testimony, it was going to be tough to convince a jury that Ian was insane. He didn’t have to remind me, but did, that drug addicts aren’t society’s favourite people and addict muderers are at least a step or two further down that list. I had to remind Shipton that I’d employed the best lawyer for my boy because I was more than aware that the situation was a fucking mess.
What was more worrying was that we were having problems with both the doctors Shipton had roped in to testify that Ian was a nutjob. One of the doctors got cold feet when he found out I was a copper. I think he thought it was some sort of elaborate sting. I managed to convince him that this was a genuine case by showing him a full audit trail of my bank account from which his five grand sweetener had come, proving that the funds were mine and had been in my saving account for the past decade.
The second doctor got greedy the week before the trial and decided that five grand wasn’t enough, he wanted ten times that. Shipton pointed out there was no way of replacing him at this stage. I wouldn’t be surprised if that little prick had put the doctor up to asking for the extra cash and was getting a commission from him. I got a loan that would basically wipe out the lump sum I was going to be getting on my pension in a few months’ time and paid the bribe.
And of course the judge had to be given a little convincer too, but that was nothing new. I’d done it a few times in the past from the other side of the fence when we’d gotten the wrong person, or more accurately couldn’t find the right person and the bad PR involved in that getting out would be too damaging to the force. We’d stitch up a fall guy, I’m not talking about a family man with a steady job and bills to pay, no someone that had slipped through the net in the past - someone who deserved it.
It was a great relief when the trial came to an end and Ian was ordered by the judge to be detained at the Moorfield Centre under the Mental Health Act. My boy would be safe from the violent scum that walked the prison corridors.
Visiting time at Moorfield was hard for me. Ian refused to see me but still I turned up diligently every week hoping to see the son who, in spite of his thoughts on the matter, I had saved from a certain death, bankrupting myself in the process. As I walked away at the end of visiting time each week, having sat for two hours alone, I noticed the looks of sympathy on the faces of the staff. I was undeterred and still turned up every week.
As I signed in at Moorfield this morning, almost six months after Ian had been sent here, again a sympathetic face looked back at me and spoke. ‘Hello, Detective Simmons. Can you go into the waiting room behind me? Doctor Lamb would like to speak with you.’
I was expecting this day to come. Patients are not kept within the care of mental health institutions indefinitely and Ian’s time was coming to an end. He would have to be reassessed and, if it was decided that he was no longer playing ball, he could find himself out of the hospital and in prison within the month.
Doctor Lamb entered the waiting room and I stood to shake his hand. He motioned me back to my seat and spoke. ‘I’m afraid there has been an incident. One of the patients went on a frenzied rampage during breakfast this morning. He was sat next to Ian when the incident began. He attacked your son and before anyone could stop him he had slashed his throat with a piece of glass. We're not sure where the glass came from. I'm sorry, Detective Simmons, but Ian bled to death as hospital staff tried to help him.’
I felt my shoulders shake; tears filled my eyes and ran down my face. I saw Doctor Lamb’s lips continue to move but I heard nothing of what he was saying.
Bio - Aidan Thorn is a 33 year old writer from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titantic left from before sinking. It's Aidan's ambition to put Southampton on the map for something other than bad R N' B music and sinking ships. Since having his first short story published in Radgepacket Vol. 6 in 2012 he has written a couple more but spent the first half of 2012 completing his first novel 'When the Music's Over.' More information on Aidan's writing can be found on his website http://aidanthornwriter.weebly.com/