In an earlier post, I spoke about getting caught taking photos of a girl in a shopping centre after her mother noticed me.
I spent a while concerned about what I had done, and worried about the possibility of further consequences. Sadly, I soon drifted back into complacency and resumed taking photos. It would take an arrest and the subsequent fallout to get me to stop.
I wasn’t working at the time, so when I heard a knock on the door one morning, I was home and still in pyjamas. Two detectives introduced themselves, confirmed who I was, and explained that they had a warrant to search my house and car for evidence.
A lawyer would always advise to make no comment, but having a tendency for honest and not wanting to appear that I had anything to hide, I admitted to what they already alleged, and elaborated on other things that would become clear during analysis of my computer equipment (e.g. having shared photos online).
They called in some colleagues to help catalogue and bag up all of my computer gear, including computer, mobile phone and all hard drives. They also seized a jumper I was wearing on the day of the offence. I miss that jumper. I miss my family photos more.
They took me back to their station (after letting me change into clothes) for further interrogation and a recorded interview, where again I was forthcoming with information. Before they got to the interview, there was plenty of waiting, as they gathered details and followed whatever processes they normally followed.
Another detective introduced himself, and later sat in on the interview, having more experience dealing with sex offences. He acknowledged my nervousness and my hunger, and organised some food. I recall hearing him trying to convince an officer to make me a sandwich (“yes, I am serious”), and after that initial reluctance, it was brought into me; a little dry, and I couldn’t eat much of it in my stressed state, but it helped. Food, water, toilet access and careful adherence to procedure help ensure a successful case with admissible evidence. I remember being asked before leaving if I had been treated well, and I agreed that I had.
Fingerprints. DNA swab. Photographs. Signatures.
At some point whilst waiting, I overheard the names of my partner and my children’s mother, so they’d already worked out the key relationships in my life. I’d later learn that these were for the purpose of the submitting a report to DHS Child Protection. Police aren’t meant to divulge information about the accused to the public, but Child Protection can, and Police procedures require an automatic report through to them. I’ll talk more about Child Protection in later posts.
At the end of the ordeal, the offer of a ride home dried up, and I was left to make my own way home, but without a smartphone to guide me. I took a random bus to a train station, and two trains later, I made it home, ready for a sleepless night.
I’m sure there’s more I could write about the experience, but I can’t honestly say it’s pleasant to revisit. However, reflecting on it is one of the ways I keep consequences in my mind. And perhaps one day someone else will find it helpful to compare my experience with their own.