Melissa Laird (ML) – A8904CJ
13 Dec 2011: Approx. 7pm I was arrested on the lane of my driveway. My son was in his car seat on the passenger side of the car on the back seat. He became frightened and was taken out by force. I was unable nor allowed to get to him. I tried to reassure him verbally and said I would go and sort out his dog and feed her. With some explanation to the English speaking copper I was allowed to go and sort out my son’s dog and her 3 week old puppies. At which point I explained I was going to see Papa (our neighbour) to get him to have Trixie and her pups. That calmed him some but was still frightened. They still would not let me near my child. After ½ hour my car was moved out of the land and I tried to get food for Seb, as I was going home to cook dinner when this happened.
Our neighbour, indeed, did agree to take in our dogs until we returned. Later, I found that the Police came back and took the dogs minus puppies to a rehoming shelter. I was put in the back of an unmarked Police car, with my son besides me. Once inside, my son grabbed my arm at which point he was told by the copper not to undo his belt. He kept asking for his car seat. I tried to explain that they wouldn’t allow it. When he started to cry, I was told very abruptly to shut him up or else. The copper turned, while driving over 120 km/hr and looked at me nearly hitting the vehicle in front. I explained that it was OK just this one time to not have his seat. I said that once everything was over, we would go and see Great Aunt Grace. That made him quieter. He asked if Grace would mind if Trixie came, too. I said she wouldn’t.
We arrived in Alicante at which point he undid his belt and onto my lap. He was trying to get into my jacket, but couldn’t work the zip. The door opened when tried to take him. He wrapped himself around me and started to scream. I intervened and said to leave him alone. I spoke to him to calm him down. They wanted me to get out which I did. They then snatched him. (I spoke to him before this and explained I had to sort out a problem, but if he needed me to ask for me. He said ‘You promise’. I said ‘I promise’.) He screamed. I tried to stop them, at which point I was punched whim made him scream more. That was the last time I saw my son. My son saw me being handcuffed and being punched.
I was then taken to the Guardia Civil station, where the next 2 days I was assaulted and given no food. During all this time, I asked for the American Embassy – to no avail. Each time I asked I was mocked. I asked where my son was and to see him and got no answer.
On 15 December 2011 @ 5am I was dragged from the cell to a Police car. Again I asked for my son and the American Embassy at which point I had my nose broken and got a black eye. Again not allowed the toilet or food or anything. I was dragged from the car to the cells at which point I was black and blue. I was continuing to ask for my son and the Embassy. As I had my nose broken and had blood on my clothes, they got a doctor. When the doctor arrived, she said “once I see the judge, she would let me speak to my son and that she would call the American Embassy.” I then was examined and she found bruising on both wrists, 2 black eyes, broken nose, a broken tooth and bruising on my back. She gave me pain relief and said when they sorted out where they were taking me, she would see I got treated for the nose and tooth.
When I saw the judge, he said if I refused to go to the UK, he would see to it that I never saw my son again. But I would see my son, if I went to the UK. So I agreed. The lawyer I saw for all of 2 minutes but gave no help. Just a puppet.
When I went back down to the cells, I asked for the call to my son and they just laughed. It never happened. I also asked about the call to the Embassy. Again they laughed. It didn’t happen either.
I was taken to De Soto Prison on the outskirts of Madrid. I was then taken to see the doctor in the prison who put me in the Hospital Unit because of the injuries I had. For days I continued to ask to speak with and wanted to know the whereabouts of my son. I also asked to call the Embassy.
On 21 Dec 2011 I was informed that the child was in the UK and was not my son, to stop saying he was. He was safer where he was.
On 23 Dec 2011, with nothing to lose, I threatened to kill the girl I shared the room with, if I was not allowed to call the American Embassy. Holding her by her throat, they got the Governor who said she would arrange to take me to the main phone to ring. Once there, we spoke with the American Embassy and spoke to Claire who said she would arrange to see me. I informed her I had asked they be informed told, they had, but she said they knew nothing. She even checked their log and found nothing. She said according to their records, this was the first they heard of me and what was going on.
On 28 Dec 2011 I was taken to Guardia Civil station to be transported to Madrid airport to a cell that had human toilet on the floor. I was awful. At 2pm, 3 UK Police came and took me to the place. I tried to explain I had a fear of flying and couldn’t climb stairs. This was all ignored. On the flight I had several panic attacks.
Once at Heathrow, I came to UKBA, stating I was not Marilyn Carver, but Melissa Laird. I was taken to Heathrow Police Station where again I saw a doctor who confirmed that I had arthritis and need to be kept warm and they need to provide kosher food for me. By 8.30pm I finally got food. I was put in a cell at 10pm where I was ‘tucked in’ with loads of blankets due to no heat.
On 30 Dec 2011 I was remanded to Holloway by Brent Magistrates Court. Upon arriving, I was stripped off my boots and all my possessions including inhaler, except my watch, ring and Star of David. I was then forced up 4 flights of stairs. But the time I got to the top, I could hardly breathe or walk. I was told by the female officers “Don’t worry. We will beat the lazy attitude out of you.” I tried to explain I had asthma and arthritis, but I was told to ‘stop pretending and stop being so lazy.” I was put on D2, the first Night Centre. I was ‘examined’ by the ‘doctor’ but he did nothing but ‘take notes’. I asked to contact my son and the American Embassy. I was told to fill in an App. The American Embassy came to see me and said they would find my son and get contact, but this never materialised. I asked to contact my son, once I knew who had him, to be told I was not allowed. Having never been in prison, I thought that was normal.
I became friends with Sonia and Maria who introduced me to CLP Solicitors in January 2012. I also found that I could, in fact, have contact with my son. Upon contact with Rehana whe arranged for Des Johnson to see me at which point I spoke about my son and contact. He said he would find a family solicitor. Lisa Bose of Noble Solicitors was then arranged to visit.
On 6 Feb 2012 I was told a visit with (Barnet) Social Services was to take place the following day. I had been told for weeks not to meet them alone and on that advice I asked for Des to be with me. He arranged to be with me, when the Social Workers visited.
On 7 February 2012 a visit with Tony Carroll, Ron Ludtke, Des Johnson and myself took place, where I was told my son had only asked once for me and they responded to him, a 4-year-old child, “Your mother is with the Police!” When I asked if he was with a Jewish family, I was told “No, by the way he loves his pork sausages.” I was upset by this. I asked about seeing him again. I was told “Prison is no place for a child.” I got very upset and started crying. Every time I asked that he visit, I was met with “No.” They even said that because he didn’t ask for me again. He didn’t miss me.
On 4 March 2012 I received the statement from the Social Workers for court the next day. Most of which was contradictory. Some of the photos attached were ‘staged’ to make it look filthy, it was messy, as if it had been broken into.
On 5 March 2012 I arrived at Court at approx 11am. I asked for it to be adjourned as I had no counsel. The Judge refused. I asked for the Official Solicitor; this was also refused by the Judge. I rang Des from CLP while awaiting transport, to be told that he and Lisa Bose both had the flu and were unable to attend court. He said I need to ask for an adjournment or at least the Official Solicitor as Nobles’ were unable to obtain Legal Aid for me. Therefore she would only advise me not to act for me. The Court or rather the Judge seemed as though without a hearing her mind was already made up. The following morning about 3am I felt very sick and started throwing up. I rang the cell bell to ask for a nurse. I was told one would be called. At 6.30 staff came to take me to reception. I explained I was ill and awaiting the nurse. It later transpired they said I refused, but not why.
On 7 March 2012 the Court had adjourned until the 8th March, the only other day I was allowed by the Prison to attend. No defence was allowed and a partial judgement made. Part way through, the Solicitors for Social Services said “there was an update Final Care Plan and was only posted on Monday 5th March 2012.” At which point the judge finished reading her judgment, then adjourned the final part until the 16th March 2012. This was to allow me time to loo over this final update care plan. To this day I have never received it.
16 March 2012 at 6.45am staff came to take me down to reception only no one had informed them that I was unable to do stairs, as I walk with a z-frame. The officer said whe would have to come back. This never happened. At 7.30am I asked staff what was going on only to be told they would check. The never told me anything until I threatened to destroy the room I was in and crying. It was then that I was allowed to call Des to tell him what had happened. He said he would contact the court to try and get it adjourned and inform them that the prison again was refusing to take me to Family court.
On 3 April 2012 I was allowed to make a legal call in resettlement. This call was to Barnet County Court as I was wanting to know when the new date was. I found that the Judge, again, had proceeded in my absence. I then asked how I appeal and was told through the Court of Appeal. I asked about where to get the forms and they faxed them to me. I received them before I had to return back to the landing. I filled them out the best and fastest I could, as I had only 21 days from the 16th March which meant the deadline was the 6th April. I faxed them on the 5th April 2012 through Hibiscus. On return, which included photocopies for my records and to ensure that should there be a problem, I had copies, were posted 1st class.
At the middle of May 2012 I asked Rehana how long it takes for the RCJ to respond to appeals. I was told it would take a while. I explained it had been sent at the beginning of April and was told it was normal, not to worry.
Also during this time I was to be in Criminal Court on the 8th May. On the 4th May I blacked out and fell on the concrete floor. I received very minimal of medical care. One of the girls on the landing rang Des to let him know what had happened and that unless they refused to take me, I would see him at the Court. And sure enough on cue, the prison refused to take me. Yet again they told the Court I was refusing to attend, when, in fact, I was dressed and ready.
Des rang the prison to find out what they were doing or something like that. I had Mrs Chatten come to my room on C3 and said that my solicitor wants to know about my refusal. I informed her I was wanting to go and not refusing She then asked me to confirm Des’ phone number which I did. She then said I needed to get dressed and was met with me saying I already was. I was eventually transported in severe pain to court. Rachel Derby had seen how much pain I was in and had Des to call an ambulance to take me to hospital. The doctors @ Whittingdon found that I had a secondary trauma to the left hip area. I was told to rest it and gentle mobilization. The use of a wheelchair for long distance would be needed. He stated to me this rest should be approx. 6-8 weeks. I went to court the next day and told the quickest way out of Holloway was to plead guilty and I should be out maximum 6 weeks at best that day. So I did and I am still being held @ Holloway well beyond time.
By July I again rang Rehana and asked should it take this long to hear about the appeal. She said they are on summer holidays and not to worry but they would be opened again until the end of August beginning of September.
Come the middle of September I rang the court to be told they had not received them. I explained that it had been faxed on the 5th April and then posted. They asked if I could call them back, they would look again but would take a bit. During this time I put in a complaint regarding the problem I was having sending and receiving post.
Then in October I hear from the Court about my Appeal, stating they needed the ‘Grounds of Appeal’. I again rang to say it had already been done and sent. They instructed I send it again which I did.
In December I received the papers stamped and with a case number. I then a couple of days later was given to the 2nd Jan 2013 to finish the bundle. This notice was received only days before everything shut for the holidays. I then rang, faxed and posted a request for a time extension which I got extended to the 10th January 2013.
On the 8th or 9th of Jan 2013 I had a legal visit by Aneesha Bhunjun from Wainwright & Cummins. I took what I had and asked if she could photocopy everything needed for the filing and get it to the RCJ by the 10th Jan. She said she would and she did. I later found she had hand delivered. I had enclosed a letter to state and also listed in the table of contents that I had made numerous requests for the hearing transcripts and had not received them. Once received, copies would be forwarded.
On 21 Jan 2013 my appeal was refused yet it seemed that he had ignored the fact that a very important document needed and I was waiting for was not enclosed. He stated it was “without merit” but the fact is he was not in possession of all the evidence.
During all the time I have made 7 requests for the hearing transcripts starting on the 5th April 2012, the last request on the 20th March 2013. The only way I believe this copy will be gotten is through a court order as all other requests have been ignored.
I believe they are hiding the truth and the justice I have been denied thus far.
HMP Holloway, May 2013
Received on 30th May 2013 and typed by Sabine Kurjo McNeill, Association of McKenzie Friends.