A Remorseful Rapscallion’s Rap Sheet.

Confession can be cathartic. I find that to come clean about my many past peccadilloes is a cleansing experience. So to that end, (and to prevent you hearing about my nefarious past from anyone else) I will list here my juvenile misdemeanours as I remember them.

 

Age-Five years.

Offence-Theft.

Details-Toy car.

Victim-Douglas, a classmate.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-A mild telling off from my parents, and a lecture on how wrong it is to take things that don’t belong to me.

Mitigating circumstances-I was very young and naïve, and did not understand the concept of theft-I just figured that if I desired something, that was within my reach, I should just take it.

 

Age-Seven

Offence-Theft.

Details-Various items of jewellery.

Victim-My father.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-An embarrassing lecture from both parents, laden with heavy tones of disappointment, which were designed to elicit total contrition from me as well as a solemn vow that this would never happen again.

Mitigating circumstances-The items in question were scrap pieces of bright shiny sparkly jewellery that Dad kept for spares and repairs. I genuinely didn’t think he would miss them.

 

Age-Six.

Offence-Theft.

Details-A toy Dalek

Victim-A toyshop in Llanelli Market.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-suffering once again, my father’s great distain.

Mitigating circumstances-None. I did it. I bought one toy and nicked  another, then, when questioned by my incredulous Dad I claimed that I had bought the second one out of the change I received from the purchase of the first.

  However, the story failed to convince him because he knew that I had only taken enough money out with me to buy one toy.

  You see at this time I did not fully understand the concept of change.  I had only ever witnessed monetary transactions before, and was yet to actually take part in them.

  At that time I thought you gave money for an item, and automatically received change-that was all I had ever seen, I didn’t realise that to receive change you first had to give over more money than the value of the item to be purchased.

 

Age-Eight.

Offence-Theft. Followed by the futile denial of responsibility for the act of stealing.

Details-A postage stamp to add to my collection.

Victim-Mr. Hart, my dentist.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-Another humiliating talking to from Mam and Dad, accompanied by a lengthy period of cold shoulder, plus the requirement to make an impassioned and awkward apology to Mr. Hart.

Mitigating circumstances- None. On the way to visiting the toilet, the door to Mr. Hart’s office was open, and a letter with the colourful foreign stamp was clearly visible. I went in and ripped it off. No excuse.

 

Age-Nine.

Offence-Theft.

Details-Breaking and entering a shop in the old Llanelli market to steal toys and fireworks. The act was committed in the company of a small gang of mates, and with the added outrage of involving both of my siblings in the wrongdoing, and making them both swear on pain of death, an oath of secrecy.

Victim-The Card Cabin.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-Severe rollocking from both my parents and two police officers who came to visit my house in no time at all. However, due to my now skilful deflection of the truth, they failed to be able to prove anything.

Mitigating circumstances-None. I was as guilty as sin. But because there were others involved, a confusing tissue of lies was woven by us all, each contradicting the other, and sufficiently flummoxing the forces of law and order, who, it seems, were powerless in the face of such complex obfuscation to take the case any further.

(At least that’s how it looked to us at the time. In actual fact we were all below the age of criminal responsibility, and so, in law, nothing could be done).

 

 

Age-Ten.

Offence-Arson.

Details-The accidental setting fire to a local tyre warehouse.

Victim-A garage business in Llanelli.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-Several weeks of intense stress whilst hoping that no one had figured out that I was the one of the culprits.

Mitigating circumstances-It was a genuine accident, and it wasn’t actually me who lit the match. However I shouldn’t have been trespassing in the warehouse in the first place.

  A few friends and I had found, and adopted it as our ‘den’, which we had used for a couple of weeks, and on the evening in question, one of my pals had brought a box of matches with him to ‘set a camp fire’.

  We stuffed an old tyre with newspaper, never expecting it to catch the rubber tyre alight so quickly. At that point I learned just how wrong you can be, because within about two minutes the tyre was blazing fiercely, and despite my panicked efforts to extinguish the flames, it swiftly spread to the other tyres piled high in the warehouse. We legged it out of the place like rats deserting a sinking ship!

  We all scattered in different directions, and thinking that the best way to avoid being fingered for the crime I decided to walk nonchalantly back to the scene and stand as an anonymous face among the gathering crowd of neighbours and passers-by.

  I watched the firemen battle the conflagration for about a full half hour, before making my way home, smelling of smoke and evidently wearing my a guilt on my sleeve.

  Dad quizzed me as to why I had returned home looking so sheepish and so unusually early. I told him about the fire I had witnessed but I denied all culpability for the incident. He didn’t believe me, but in the face of no solid evidence he had no choice but to grant me the benefit of the doubt.

 

Age-Twelve.

Offence-Shoplifting.

Victim-Woolworths.

Details-A confederate and I went out we each stole an Airfix kit.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-A police caution, and later a most uncomfortable scene at home whereby, after offering me outside for a boy to man stand-up fight, (Which I declined), Dad virtually washed his hands of me-and really, who could blame him?

  Mam tearfully pledged to stand by me. It was all very distressing.

Mitigating circumstances-None. I should by now have long since realised that the majority of my delinquency ended with my own humiliation. I had absolutely no aptitude for crime and criminality, but unfortunately, this realisation was not destined to dawn upon me for a while yet.

  If the penny had dropped at that time, I would probably have walked off with it!

 

Age Twelve.

Offence-Theft.

Victim-Unknown to me.

Details-one bottle of lemonade.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-I was ordered by my school headmaster to pay back within a week, the value of the stolen item, plus a fine of five pounds. If I failed to do this, a letter would be sent to my parents, inviting them to his office for an interview and they would be informed of my deeds.

Mitigating circumstances-Again, following the example of many others who had gone before me and got away with it, I entered a warehouse located on the route to the school metalwork annexe that had already been broken into.

  I helped myself to a bottle of lemonade, drank it hastily, but the enjoyment of my ill-gotten gains was short lived as I violently vomited almost immediately after drinking it.

 

Age-Twelve.

Offence-Fraud.

Victim-Many.

Details-A scam raffle.

Plea-Guilty

Sentence-None. For once I got away with it by the skin of my teeth.

Mitigating circumstances-None. I was desperate to raise the fine money, and so, using my pocket money I bought a book of cloakroom tickets, and managed over the course of two evenings to con several Llanelli residents into believing that I was selling ‘raffle tickets’ on the behalf of some local charity-the blind, or deaf, or something, and I begged them to dig deep!

  Most were not fooled, but some of the older ‘customers’ after giving me the third degree, reluctantly gave me the benefit of the doubt.

  I raised the required sum, paid it, and just managed for once to escape the wrath of my parents.

 

Age-Fourteen.

Offence-Criminal Damage.

Victim-A local demolition company.

Details-Throwing stones.

Plea-Guilty.

Sentence-Three year probation order imposed by the juvenile Magistrate’s court.

Mitigating circumstances-Many. This is one case where to this day I believe that I was unfairly treated.

  Whilst bunking off school one day, a friend and I happened upon the site of an old hotel that was being demolished as part of the town’s refurbishment scheme.

  We wanted a smoke, and so we befriended a worker who was having his lunch break. We scrounged a cigarette each from him, (I have been a smoker since the age of fourteen).

  While we smoked and talked, my friend, the worker and I started idly tossing lumps of rubble and stones through the panes of glass that were the remains of the building’s windows that littered the ground round and about. The conversation petered out and we thanked the man for his generosity, and left the site.

  I have no idea how the police got hold of our names and addresses. All I do know is that about a week later I was visited by them, and informed that the demolition firm wanted to press charges against me and my friend for criminal damage.

  I could not believe it!

  We were being done for the vandalism of some already smashed windows that we broke in the company of and with the willing participation of one of the firms own employees.

  None of this made the slightest difference to the bench who were deaf to our protestations of innocence. They awarded me the probation order, complete with the warning that they had better not see my face in front of them again. Unbelievable!

 

Age-Seventeen.

Offence-Theft.

Victim-Various catalogue companies, and their customers.

Plea-Guilty.

Details-A selection of goods.

Sentence-A second three year probation order imposed by the juvenile Magistrate’s court.

Mitigating circumstances-None. I was caught red-handed. I had started working at Llanelli’s Railway station-it was my first job upon leaving school.

  At first I got on well there, but before long I became embroiled in a scam that had been going on for some time. It involved the keeping of unclaimed lost property that should have been sent away for auction in Paddington.

  Instead it sometimes got shared out amongst those of my colleagues who were ‘in the know’.

  This progressed to me stealing certain easily recognisable high value items sent from catalogue companies to customers in the town.

  To cut a long story short, I got caught out trying to sell some of the merchandise on whilst holidaying with friends in Doncaster.

  I took the rap myself and didn’t spill the beans on my co conspirators, and ended up with a final warning, that next time I would be facing the adult courts, and as such would receive an adult sentence.

  The hint was that this would in all probability be custodial.

  CLAAANG!!…The penny finally dropped.

 

  I am not looking for any medals here, but I have to tell the truth. Since my turbulent early life, and that final warning, I am glad to say that I did managed to turn it around.

 Once people started to trust me, give me a chance, and give me some respect it came fairly easy, I sincerely thank them all, and I am now, I promise you, an absolute model citizen.

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