“Don’t cry mate, daddy will be home tonight”. But he wasn’t, he came home 12 years later after his release from prison.
It was 7am on a cold dark January morning. Jon and I were both up and getting moving for the day, the kids were just waking up.
Jon went out to find something from his van in the driveway whilst I was faffing about in the kitchen, making a cuppa and the kids’ breakfasts.
I heard the front door, didn’t look up, just asked if Jon had found what he’d been looking for. I didn’t recognise the voice that said “Mrs. Beere? I’m from the Serious Organised Crime Agency. We need you to take the children in the kitchen while we speak to your husband.”
“Don’t cry mate, dad will be home tonight” and with that they took him away.
I looked up and saw a string of men walking through my hallway, Jon in the middle and a Policeman in uniform bringing up the rear. Jon looked so confused. They had a warrant to search the house. Jon said ‘just do what they want, don’t worry, it’s a mistake’.
The kids were crying. They weren’t allowed to see their dad. The police wouldn’t tell me anything other than they needed to speak to Jon. We could hear moving around and banging upstairs – what were they actually looking for?
We were told to move to the dining room so the kitchen could be searched.
He had nothing to hide. He wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise our family and life together.
Our eldest was 15 and in her GCSE year. She had a Mock exam that morning. I asked if she could go and get ready – she had to get dressed whilst a police officer stood guard outside her bedroom.
I still had no clue what was going on, but whatever it was they reckoned he’d done, there’s no way he knew what they were on about. He looked so confused and was co-operating fully. He had nothing to hide. He wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise our family and life together.
By 8.15am, I was called to the front room and asked to account for the cash Jon had in his pocket – £325.00, nothing major. I had drawn it out the bank the previous day and was able to show the bank transaction. It was cash wages for a guy who worked for Jon. I was asked to sign for the money, then someone said “actually Jon, keep 40 quid in your pocket to get yourself home later.” A split second’s reassurance until I realised they intended to take Jon away with them.
Jon was handcuffed. The kids were crying and screaming trying to hold onto him. He looked so lost and confused and concerned about the kids and I. That’s when one of the blokes in uniform said to our 4 year old “Don’t cry mate, dad will be home tonight” and with that they took him away.
I asked the officer in uniform what would happen next – he said I’d get a call later.
Bearing in mind this was the first time we had been involved with the police, I had no clue what I was meant to do, cooperate or refuse. They said again it would speed up their inquiries if I helped them – so I did.
Our eldest somehow went to school whilst me and the younger two children took the dog for a long muddy walk to try and distract them. I hadn’t told my parents or Jon’s what had happened, there was no point worrying them as well. It would all be over later.
I heard nothing all day, just tears and questions from the kids which I couldn’t answer.
Around 6pm, two SOCA officers came back to the house. The kids freaked out thinking they had come back for me. The officers wanted to come in and talk to me – they needed help tying up a few things and if I helped it would speed things up. They wanted Jon’s work diary.
Bearing in mind this was the first time we had been involved with the police, I had no clue what I was meant to do, cooperate or refuse. They said again it would speed up their inquiries if I helped them – so I did. I gave a statement with just two SOCA officers and our 15 year old daughter present, no other formal recording. I was asked to sign my statement, the same officer said if I didn’t, false addendums could be added. I signed.
Still no word. Put the kids to bed crying, I went to bed crying.
11.30pm the phone rang – Jon!
He sounded so serious, exhausted, quiet. I started crying, asked what was going on – he told me to listen, he didn’t have long.
They had charged him with Conspiracy to import class A drugs – WTAF!? But I wasn’t to worry, it’s a massive mistake, it’ll get sorted.
He had to appear in court in Portsmouth at 9am the following day. Then the phone went quiet – he had to go.
I needed to be there. I rang my parents and broke the news to them – we were all broken.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Beere works at APPEAL as a Survivor Advocate. Before this, Sue was part of APPEAL’s Bound By Injustice community, a powerful support and advocacy group made up of the family members of APPEAL’s clients and former prisoners which they continue to represent in their fight for justice.
Sue has been married to Jon for 30 years, although they spent 12 years apart due to him being wrongfully convicted in June 2011. Jon has now been released but their journey of wrongful conviction is still continuing. They have three incredibly resilient children, and two beautiful granddaughters.
Sue is on the Sounddelivery Media Spokesperson Network.
APPEAL is a charity and law practice dedicated to fighting miscarriages of justice and demanding reform. They fight the cases of individual victims of unsafe convictions and unfair sentences who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer themselves. They also advocate for people with wrongful convictions in financial, housing, education and employment matters.
APPEAL Website: https://appeal.org.uk/
APPEAL Bound By Injustice Website: https://appeal.org.uk/bound-by-injustice