22 Oct 06
Family Visits (3)
In the visitation room, the faces of Mum, Dad, and Auntie Lily looked wounded. They did not know I had been faxed the outcome of the hearing the day before it was held.
“It didn’t go well did it?” I asked.
“How do you know?” Mum asked.
“I got a fax through CO3 Rose just after you left saying that I had been unsuccessful in my application.”
They stared at me. Perplexed.
“You’ve got to be joking,” Mum said.
“This is ridiculous, the whole thing’s a farce,” Dad said.
“If they knew the result,” Auntie Lily said, “how could they put us through all that for nothing?”
“How can they treat people like that?”
“We’ve been treated like bloody morons,” Dad said.
“It’s unbelievable,” Auntie Lily said. “But you could sense it. They didn’t have to think when the vote was called for. There was no discussion. It was cut-and-dried.”
“What was the hearing like?” I asked.
“I thought the sentencing was bad,” Dad said, “but this has to have been one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. It soon became pretty obvious that the decision was already made, before we could make our beggings and pleadings.”
“I was crying the whole time,” Auntie Lily said, “The atmosphere felt awful, as soon as I walked into the room.”
“What made it worse,” Mum said, “is that we were quite optimistic at first. We were told that it would be informal and relaxed, just sat around a table. But it certainly wasn’t like that at all. The Board were on a raised platform looking down on us, like judges. I felt there was something wrong. It wasn’t a sympathetic atmosphere. They were antagonistic. One of the first things the chairman said was, ‘We know you love your son but we are here to address the harshness and suitability of the sentence. Anything else you say will be disregarded, and I will stop you if you repeat yourself, or if any one of you repeats the same thing as a previous speaker.’ That made me feel intimidated. I was on edge right away. The tone of his voice made it sound like he was reading us the Riot Act.”
“It was as if we were on trial.” Dad said.
“I felt panicky, and my mind was racing,” Mum said, spilling coffee over her blouse.
“Your mum spilt that 'cause she’s reliving it,” Auntie Lily said.
“Are you alright, Mum?” I asked.
“Yes. But I cried when I spoke up to the Board. I couldn’t think straight. Lorraine [Dad’s cousin] was crying, David [Lorraine’s son] was upset as well.”
“Alan [Simpson, Jon’s attorney] did a great job answering the questions raised by the Board,” Dad said. “But it didn’t seem to matter. There wasn’t a lot of eye contact from any of them. It was a very strange business. It was as if an iron curtain had been slammed down on us.”
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