I caused an accident after losing control of my car. It was sideways straddling both sides of a B road, a motorcyclist coming the other way came around a blind bend to be confronted with a car blocking the road. The impact launched him over my (destroyed) car and dumped him on the middle of the road, unconcious. His bike had been thrown some 14 metres back the way it came. My car dangled precariously over the edge of a drop past the verge.
After about a minute or so of getting my breath back following the airbag deploying, I realised I'd caused a very serious accident. I'd seen the motorcyclist only for a split second before the impact imploded against the B piller behind my head and shattered every window on the car. My sunglasses had disappeared from my face, glass from the door window was mingled with blood dripping from my face.
There was no way of opening the drivers door, I clambered over the passenger seat and observed one of the worst sights of my life.
For about 50 metres down the direction I'd come from, were the tell tale black lines of a skidding car. These were only interrupted by gouge marks on the road surface where car had met bike. In the middle of this lay the biker, motionless, unconscious, a mess. Onlookers, other motorists, were out of their cars but nothing more than background fuzz.
By the time I got out of the car, some other bikers had begun trying to help the badly injured guy laying on the centreline of the road. For a long minute, he didn't move, he didn't seem to breath. I'd just killed a man. Then some movement, some spluttering. Blind panic from someone who's just woken up to wish that he hadn't. His girlfriend, who had been a few minutes further behind on her own bike, arrived. Screaming and wailing, wondering how this has come to happen. No doubt a million thoughts all arriving at once. Most of them fearing the worst.
First aiders helped on the scene, I didn't know how to help medically. I was guilty, impotent and wondering how I'd gone from an enthusiastic drive to a potential killer in the space of 50 metres. It only took 3 or 4 minutes for the Police to arrive, I volunteered myself immediately as the guilty party. I was breath tested and questioned on-scene, sat in a Volvo, bleeding on the back seats whilst in full view of the prone motorcyclist, by this time being worked on by the paramedics who'd arrived, hoping the patient could last long enough for the air ambulance to arrive.
I'll never forget that poor man, lying there screaming for his helmet to be taken off, his girlfriend in tears and despair and me, not badly injured, no reason to have caused this, other than wanting to enjoy the road.
The motorcyclist spent days in intensive care, being treated for most of his right arm being smashed to pieces, his collarbone wrecked, serious head injuries, damaged eye socket, chipped bones on his ankle and a massive nerve injury. A year later and even after a number of operations, he still has many to go to correct his broken body and his impaired eyesight. The nerve damage to his dominant right arm means he'll never regain full use of it. He can no longer support his children by working on the rigs as he did beforehand.
My car was impounded by the Police and kept from the day of the accident, 30th April 2006 until the July. I was first formally interviewed in June 2006, then again in September. I was charged via postal summons in November last year. Magistrates passed the case to Crown Court on 13/12/06, as their sentencing powers were not sufficient and at that point I knew I was going to prison.
10 days short of a year after my accident, I pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and banned from driving for 3 years, for dangerous driving. Aside from the odd speeding conviction (I was driving 65,000 miles a year for the previous 10 years), I had never been in trouble with the Police before.
There was no feeling, no shock, no crying or anger when I was sent down from that court room. Just numbness. As the judge finished his sentencing, I had just one opportunity of shouting to my other half how much I loved her, before being lead into the downstairs of the court. The guard, a nice guy in his late 50s, explained that he had to handcuff me to himself, and down I went. Immediately down, through a number of locked, barred gates, to a booking in counter. All my possessions, and my belt, taken. My height measured. All my details recorded. Then 4 hours in a windowless cell with nothing but a wooden bench and contemplation for company.
4.30pm on a sunny Friday afternoon, leaving a happy looking Carlisle, but for me, in the back of a paddywagon. Watching people leaving school and work with a smile on their faces, looking forward to a weekend of choices. I was heading to HMP Durham.
You can say what you like about prison, and how easy it is, how great you think the facilities are, how prison is like a holiday camp. It's none of those things. It's a demeaning, soul-less place full of sad and sometimes evil people who have lives none of us would ever want or even imagine. All the freedoms you take for granted are removed in the name of control and security to the point that you're constantly reminded how little value society as a whole places on your miserable little existence.