Following a conviction for a sexual offence, Duncan thought his life was over. However with the support of his family and friends and by throwing himself into a new career he’s been able to seek help for the problems which led to his offending. He’s been amazed that despite knowing about his convictions many of his customers have been able to look beyond this and given him a second chance.
Two years ago I received a conviction for possession of extreme adult pornography. My life would have been ruined if it wasn’t for the support I had from my family and friends.
Within three days of my arrest, a night in the cells and a gut wrenching appearance in court, I was called into a meeting with my employer and ‘persuaded’ to resign. I immediately lost my 35 year career and knew that there was no way of ever getting back into it.
Six months later I stood in the court ready to be sentenced. Fortunately, I was only given a 12 month supervision order and the Sheriff (the Scottish equivalent of a judge) told me that “I needed help not punishment”.
I took responsibility for what I’d viewed online (nothing had been saved onto my laptop) and knew that I had to try and make amends for my stupid actions and deal with the issues that got me into this situation in the first place.
I went off to see my GP, received some medication and immediately stopped drinking alcohol (I’ve not touched a drop for 2 years now). However, I knew that I needed counselling to help me deal with my life long issues with pornography. I found out that counselling is very expensive and that I needed an income not just to pay for it but also to keep my mind and body active. So, with the qualifications I’d received over the years, a small business grant from the job centre and some specialist insurance for people with convictions (thanks to Unlock for help with this), I set up my own gardening business.
I knew it was going to be challenging to get customers. My case had been covered in the media, particularly online with my details added to the usual homemade sex offenders’ databases. Although my case had been twisted beyond all recognition, a search on google of my name really didn’t look good. Living in a small community I thought it would be impossible to get work so I used my second name for my business and started to advertise locally. I was still living at the same address so it wouldn’t have taken long for somebody to work out my name.
I was amazed at the response, my customer book was full by the summer and I had to turn people away. What was surprising was that a few customers knew me and knew about my conviction but still employed me – they were willing to give me a second chance.
I was able to book myself in for counselling sessions and I’m starting to move forward. The naming and shaming is still online and still irritates me but day to day it’s not a big deal.
What’s more important is that every day I have the words of my daughter ringing in my ears
It’s not what you’ve done in the past Dad that defines you but what you do from now on”.
By Duncan (name changed to protect identity)