Julia Saker was desperate. Desperate to stop her daughter going out to meet a drug dealer and buy heroin. Her love and concern for 19 year old Tabitha pushed her beyond reason and she ended up tying her legs together with parcel tape in an effort to keep her in the house. It was an incident of high emotion that quickly became frenzied. Tabitha phoned 999 and that led to a charge of false imprisonment and a conviction. She wrote a letter on her mum’s behalf to the judge asking for compassion, and blaming herself for what happened.
Was the mother wrong ? Legally yes but morally no. No harm was done, certainly not compared to the harm that buying heroin would bring. If Tabitha had been under 18 then no charge would have been laid; at worst it would have been debatable parenting. This wasn’t so much imprisonment as clumsy safeguarding.
The judge ignored the letter and had no empathy with the love and fear that drove Julia to her action. 12 months imprisonment, the maximum given the circumstances of the offence and the credit for a plea of guilty. The maximum !
This case cried out for understanding of the intent of the mother, compassion for the whole family and some vision of what will happen now. Who will be there to help Tabitha avoid the temptation of more class A drug taking, when the devastated father is at work ? Nobody. This case cried out for a suspended prison sentence, if that. Why the judge did not take a clear opportunity to keep a mother, who cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called dangerous, out of prison is a mystery. Why the police and CPS did not use simple common sense and decide not to charge her is, unfortunately, not so puzzling.