A tidy, tiny, polite woman in a prison

I met her in a female prison in Manchester a couple of months ago. A tiny, tidy, decent, a very scared woman in her forties. She used to speak quietly, with a characteristic, careful way of choosing words. She said she didn’t intend to kill either her husband or her son. 

She said there was an incident because she had lost control over her car whilst driving.
She was charged with attempted murder. Her solicitor and barrister were expecting (hoping?) she would have been sent to a psychiatric hospital, where she could stay as long as needed.

A long black hair tied in a well-sorted bun. Her middle and index fingers marked with dark brown spots of nicotine. Like many prisoners, she used to roll her ciggies with poor filters. Small hands, clean and well-maintained nails. She was extremely polite and focused on her precise answers to be given when asked by a solicitor or barrister, or during being a psychiatric assessment.

I was paralysed when crossing a prison gate for the first time. Everything I have read about or seen in movies, this time appeared to be a real thing in my life and I was taking part in something what when it came up to the end of my presence in her life, has left me speechless. I don’t know if ‘speechless’ describes all my emotions then. I think it was the very first time in my life when I  met a person whose brain was so clearly divided into 2 worlds. I hoped that she would be directed to a psychiatric hospital and given a proper treatment instead of being sentenced to a life sentence.

She believed that everything she had experienced in her adult life was registered by them. She was convinced that somehow some people got access to her private life, registered it and made it accessible for her friends, colleagues, and strangers as well. She didn’t know how they managed to get into her private life, register it, made files, and started to roll it out. She wasn’t able to explain how it was registered, but she was absolutely sure that they were doing the thing all her adult life long.

She had continuously worked for one company for 5 years and she had a very good opinion as an employee: never late, never tired, never complained about anything, quiet, obedient, precise, decent. The family occupied the same property they had found and moved in 10 years ago after leaving their homeland. Since then she was the only one in her family who worked full-time throughout all the time they were living in the UK. Her husband always had problems with keeping his (random) jobs; there were many months when she didn’t eat full meal portions in favour of making her husband and her son eat because they couldn’t afford full meals for all of them. The son was seventeen-years-old when I met her.

Months earlier, she tried to talk to her husband about her thoughts, beliefs, and fears. He ignored her concerns, laughed at her, and told her to visit a GP. She went to a doctor and was diagnosed with a depression. She started taking medicines, but it didn’t help and she continued struggling with understanding: “Why they keep on registering everything that happens to us???’’.

On the day of the accident, she wanted to take her men for a trip to another city. She was told that there was a beautiful beach and she thought they could have a calm, beautiful day together. On a motorway, while heading to the seaside, he got a text message from their friend informing him about her behaving like a psychopath. He showed her the message but she reacted calmly as she was driving the car. However, something in her head exploded. She didn’t remember anything since that moment. The next thing she remembered was their car damaged and laying on its roof, people around them, and her son getting out of the damaged vehicle and shouting out: “She wanted to kill us! she is mad! she wanted to kill us!”

In the prison, while waiting for her trial, she was new she was charged with attempted murder. After one visit in prison, I asked the solicitor: “When I am driving my car, is this possible to attempt to kill other people who are with me in the car without attempting to kill myself?” The solicitor looked at me surprised. I asked him why the woman wasn’t charged with a suicide attempt? He answered that she was charged with attempted murder because there was a witness who testified that the son yelled: “She wanted to kill us!”. Whilst interviewing by the police officers on that day, the husband testified the same. It didn’t matter that they wanted to change their testimonies later on.

During my last visit, her barrister asked her if she was ready to plead guilty of driving with dangerous speed? She answered: “Yes, I am ready”. Then, he asked her if she was ready to plead guilty for causing dangerous situation on the road? She said: “Yes, I am ready”. However, suddenly, with a surprisingly different to her usual tone of voice she stated: “But, I do not intend to let them keep on registering my life any longer and I want a judge to make them face an appropriate sentence”. The barrister asked her: “Who are ‘they’?” She answered: “I don’t know, I want a judge to find out who they are and have them stop spying on me and on my family.”

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I don’t know what sentence she got.

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