Thursday, 20 November 2008

Rough Justice?

A few weeks ago I was woken in the early hours of the morning by loud banging and crashing. Loud, invasive noises which made no sense.

The adrenaline kicked in immediately.
I thought there were intruders in the house, and I forgot that I had a telephone beside the bed. I did the thing you are not supposed to do -especially when you're a lady of a certain age, or more, living alone.

I came downstairs.
I put on the light in the glass porch, trying to make sense of what was happening, thinking to identify who ever was crashing around my house.
I stepped into the porch and unwittingly, stupidly, made myself into a target.

The glass shattered around me with a terrifying explosion. I heard jeers and laughter, coming from the garden. The force of the explosion was so great that I was convinced that I had been shot at.
I used the emergency number and said I thought someone was shooting at me, and that they were still in my garden.
The police were wonderful, and were with me within a very short space of time, as was a helicopter, equipped to catch criminals.

I was not being shot at.
Several neighbours and I were the victims of an attack by vandals, trespassing on the railway line at the bottom of our gardens, and hurling very large rocks at our roofs, windows, and at me, spot-lit in my own glass porch.

The police caught the vandals. They were apparently quite young. They wept and confessed and made many abject apologies. Several different police officers told me that they were basically 'nice young men', who were ashamed and sorry.
I am a sceptical old lady. I said I guessed much of the sorrow and embarrassment was connected with being caught.
How cynical I am!

They came before the magistrates the other day.
They all pleaded 'Not Guilty', so now we have to come to Court.
I received a call from the Crown Prosecution Witness Service.
I have to remain available to go to Court, too. I must not make any appointments for the next few weeks.

I do not want to see the people who attacked my house and my person in a totally unprovoked and violent manner in the middle of the night.
I don't want them to see me.
I have no wish to be involved in any sort of Court proceedings.
They have damaged my ability to sleep properly at night, and to feel safe in my own home once darkness falls.
They have done enough.
I have paid the bills for the repairs of glass and roof slates.
I want absolutely nothing more to do with them.

Who is being punished, I wonder?
It feels like me.


Zhoen said...

I'm sure you're right, or they would not have plead "not guilty." Little bu.... sorry. Nothing like that kind of intrusion to break the illusion of safety. It is an illusion, but a comforting one. I'm very sad this happened to you.

herhimnbryn said...

As z said I am so sorry this happened to you. I don't know you and I often feel that we are all strangers in this blogging thing, but that does not negate feeling for someone in pain.
YOu are going to have to stand strong and straight in that court room and from what little I've read of your words and thoughts, I think yo can do it.

pohanginapete said...

How on earth can they plead "not guilty"? "Drink/the devil/my mates/my upbringing/stress/temporary insanity/video games/etc., made me do it"? "It wasn't really me"?

Even if there's even a skerrick of truth in any of the excuses offered by those "nice young men", I fail to understand how anyone can get a thrill from smashing someone else's home and terrorising the occupants.

I do hope you can somehow manage to relax in your home again, soon.

mm said...

Ach, RR. I am so sorry. Very frightening, and not just for the time of the incident itself. Such events leave their own residue. Boundaries breached.

As HHB says, strong and straight may be the way to go. A judicious amount of "acting as if" can sometimes help.

See you soon.

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen, HHnB,PPete and mm: thank you all so much for your support. Part of my reason for posting this is because there has been recent publicity about the short-coming of the compensation system for victims of crime.
The other reason is that I am (rarely for me) feeling sorry for myself.
I coped perfectly well with all this (well, almost) until suddenly faced with the threat of a court appearance. I have such a reluctance to be in the same room as these people. I fear reprisals.

I agree with Zhoen that safety is an illusion, and once it's shattered it may be impossible to repair.

Peregrina said...

Dear R.R., I'm so sorry you had this terrifying experience.

I understand why you no longer feel safe in your house at night, especially since you live alone. A couple of years ago, at dawn, we had a break-in through a back window, probably because we hadn't closed most of the curtains and in the summer holiday season the house looked unoccupied. The intruder and accomplice left hastily on realising their error, so we lost only a small amount of property. We got over the expense (insurance never covers everything completely), and over the loss of some items which had only sentimental value, but the lasting legacy has been a feeling of insecurity, a constant awareness that it could happen again. What's more, our general trust in unknown people has shifted down a notch or two. We're a little more suspicious. Now, diminished trust in others among people in a community is not good. It seems to me that, in the long term, this destruction of trust is far worse for society than the property damage these vandals do.

And how can people who deliberately damage property, deliberately frighten people and, worse still, risk injuring someone, be called "nice young men"? No nice young man, whatever condition he's in, would do such a thing. Moreover, whether they were "nice" or not, what they've done to you remains unchanged. Their supposed "niceness" doesn't make things better in any way. Someone should explain this to the several policemen who so described them to you. In addition, no "nice young man", caught in the act, would subsequently deny his wrong-doing and seek to escape the consequences by pleading "Not Guilty".

Relatively Retiring said...

Peregrina, thank you for your kind response (and several others, which will be replied to soon).
That sort of intrusion into one's home is a violation, and the feeling remains. I am sorry you've also had the experience.
As for the 'nice young men'....I think PPete has provided most of the likely excuses. What is the financial cost to the tax payers of all this, I wonder - a Rapid Resonse Police team, a helicopter, and now a Court hearing? Why the heck couldn't they just say 'sorry' and have a figurative smack on the wrist (not a real one, or there would be an assault charge!)?

Anonymous said...

It will help you a lot to go to the Court and face up to the young men who threw stones at you. If they apologise it will make you feel better. This is the right way to approach this sort of problem. It is no good hiding away. This is why the Courts work in this way.

Relatively Retiring said...

Thank you for your advice,

Julie said...

Have you been to court yet?
If not and you'd like some moral support please let me know. I would be happy to come up to London and accompany you if you feel that might help.
As for their pleading not guilty, stuff and nonsense, that makes their actions a hundred times worse! Tell me, do we still have the stocks?