Write a story where you have been a victim of injustice.
The day of the trial began.
He pleaded not guilty to drinking and driving, and causing death by dangerous driving. How could he say that? My son died due to this evil man behind the wheel of a stolen car.
As I sit in the public viewing area, this man standing in the witness box tries to explain his actions.
‘I didn’t realize I was over the limit, it was a mate’s car, I didn’t steal it.’ And so they went on.
My 17 year old was taking his first driving lesson. He wasn’t nervous. I am a single mum and worked extra shifts to pay for a six week, intense driving course. It cost me over £500. Sam’s dad never paid his maintenance, so it was up to me to support the two of us.
Passing his test would help both Sam and myself. He had found a little run-about and paid £50 for it. The hours he spent fixing it up made me so proud.
Sam would have more freedom to hang out with his mates. Not wanting me to run him around all the time, after all, it’s not cool at 17 to be seen with your mum. I could understand that, even if I didn’t have to like it.
The night before Sam was killed, we spent an evening talking about all the places he wanted to drive to.
‘I could take the guys to the ‘Down-Load Festival…’
What a rocker. I’ve no idea where his love for punk rock came from.
It was lovely to see him so excited. So young in many ways, but a man he was becoming. In many of his mannerisms, I could see his father. Only the gentle side, not the violent man he was so often. I prayed every night that Sam would be a positive and loving husband one day. The total opposite of his dad.
Second day of trial.
The defense team gave a speech about the “so-called” corrupt police officer, who tampered with the breathalyzer screening machine. How all the charges should be dropped due to this technicality. I could see the judge looking through his paperwork, saw the jury making notes.
The morning of Sam’s first driving lesson made him giddy with excitement. The night before, we went through the Highway Code. I tested him on road signs, and how to check over the basics of the car before setting off.
At 10am, Sam’s instructor parked outside our small, two-bed bungalow. It was all I could afford on the small income I received from my job in the local council offices. Kev pushed the horn and Sam came bounding down the stairs. A huge grin on his face.
‘Drive safe’ I told him. ‘Don’t wreck Kev’s car.’ We laughed together and hugged. Then he left.
I waved to Kev. He was a good man. I’d known Kev for years now. Her had been a great friend when Sam’s dad left. Always helping fix things, no expecting anything but a cold beer and chat. Kev was married with a son a few years older than Sam. Despite the age gap, both lads got on well. Daniel was a good role model and Sam looked up to him.
It was hard when Daniel went to Uni. Yet, Sam kept in touch and couldn’t wait to drive himself to Leeds Uni to visit his friend.
Day three of the trial.
It was the crown prosecution’s turn to open the day with all the evidence stacked against this man. CCTV footage showed him coming out of a pub, swaying all down the road. He was very drunk by all appearances, or he was a great actor.
Pictures were shown of the wreckage of both the cars after the crash. The coroner was on the witness stand, describing the injuries caused that ended my son’s life. A sob caught me in my throat. Again, I looked at the jury. Scribbling their notes, some looks visibly upset by what they heard.
This monster murdered my son. Hate consumed me. I wanted to scream at him as he sat calmly listening to the evidence that would surely send him to prison.
At 11:30am, on that fateful day, I got a call from the police at my door.
‘Miss, there has been an incident involving your son. May we come in?’
Sam? He was a good boy. What could have happened for the police to be here?
We sat in the living room, cluttered with Sam’s video games and car parts. I was acutely aware of the mess that, before, was just so normal.
A female family liaison officer, introduced herself and explained that Sam and his driving instructor had been involved in a collision. Both Kev and Sam were killed instantly.
My whole world turned upside down. Numb. I hardly heard anymore after that. My baby was dead.
I wasn't a drinker. An occasional glass of wine or a beer during the summer months. Right now I needed something strong. I stood and made my way to the kitchen, took out the bottle of brandy left over from the previous Christmas, poured a glass and downed it in one. The burn of the drink in my stomach reawakened my senses. Sounds became loud. I could hear my heartbeat, feel the cold glass in my hand, and see the police officer come to stand by my side.
I collapsed into her arms. This could not be happening. I asked where Sam was. I needed to see him. The police advised me that it wouldn’t be a good idea. It shouldn’t be the last image burned into my mind of my beautiful child.
Day four of the trial.
The jury’s decision. They had been dismissed late in the morning to consider the verdict. By mid-afternoon, they come back into the courtroom. I searched faces to see if I could tell what decision they had come to, but all I saw was stone expressions. No emotions passed over those faces.
‘We find the defendant not guilty of the charge of drunk driving.’
What? The color drained from my face. How could that be? The breathalyzer showed he was three times over the limit.
‘We find the defendant guilty of dangerous driving.’
Result! The scum bag had been found guilty for causing my son’s and Kev’s death. That would hold a hefty sentence. Justice would be served.
Kev’s wife and son sat by my side and we all held hands as the sentences was about to be passed. As the judge began to speak, he looked to the public gallery and then to the defendant. I held my breath as he began to speak. The moment I’d been waiting six months for.
‘You have been found guilty by your peers. I now sentence you to 18 months, minus the six months you have served… blah, blah, blah.’
The defendant has 13 months left to serve. He killed two innocent people and all he got was 18 months. Where is the justice? A lifetime ban on his driving license and a cozy short-term in prison.
My boy and my friend; a son, father, husband… gone forever and for what? A drunken joyride has ruined lives, taken away everything I have. Justice? For me, it hasn’t been done. Now I fight the law and the government, to crack down on these people. Justice will one day be handed out for others.
My ex-husband moved from a closed condition prison to an open one. Not only does he get help, he gets freedom. I’m left to pick up the shards of my life in the best way I can. No help for me as council funding is too small to improve mental health facilities.
A year later.
I am invited to a morning TV show to talk about my campaign to increase prison sentences on dangerous driving offenses. People were becoming interested in the change of law. Called Sam’s Law, anyone convicted of this crime now have to spend a minimum 10 years behind bars. If death is caused, then a minimum of 15 years before parole can be considered.