A MOTHER’S love is unconditional – but after thugs threatened to shoot her and set her house on fire because of her son’s drug debts, mum-of-two Joy has finally had enough.
Scared for the safety of herself and her daughter, the mum-of-two is seen kicking her convict son out of the family home in tonight’s Life after Lock Up, after being forced to sell her car and use her holiday savings to pay off his dealers.
Long-suffering Joy, who has stuck by her son for years – even as he broke into her home twice and stole her partner’s work van – had to scrape together the money in just five hours.
She was forced to sell her car and use her holiday savings to pay the dealers, who had also threatened to set her family’s home on fire if she didn’t cough up the cash.
Now, she sadly admits, she doesn’t want son Rhys back – and even hopes he gets locked up.
“I’ve had to put my car up for sale, then the money that I was saving to go on holiday at the end of the year, I used that,” says the mum, speaking the day after Mother’s Day.
“He’s out of s*** while I’m in it.”
Joy took Rhys, 20, back in after he was released from prison in Portland, Dorset, having spent 34 of the past 38 months behind bars for drug offences, assaults and other crimes.
But speaking in the Channel 4 programme Life After Lock-Up, which airs tonight, she says she was forced to kick her son out after he got himself ‘into a bit of strife with drug dealers’.
‘It broke my heart all over again’
“It got to the stage where we were threatened by the drug dealers that they were going to set our house on fire, shoot us, hurt us,” says the mum, who also has a young daughter.
“And they gave me five hours to get the money up together and pay them off.”
She adds of Rhys: “Don’t want him back, can’t have him back. It’s just – it broke my heart all over again. Is it wrong for me to say that I hope he goes back inside?”
Rhys is one of eight convicted criminals appearing in the show, which follows the former prisoners’ lives for a year as they deal with life outside bars and try to reintegrate into society.
Every year, more than 70,000 people, like Rhys, are released from prison. They are each given a discharge grant of £46 and a travel pass to get home.
But figures show more than half of inmates will be back behind bars within 12 months of their release, with re-offending estimated to cost UK taxpayers £15 billion a year.
Speaking after his fall-out with his mum, Rhys tells producers: “It’s just me being stupid. Got in a bit of debt. Something happened and I’ve just got to pay it back, basically.”
‘He can’t keep saying sorry, he’s got to show it’
The young offender, who was released with 140 hours of community service, moves in with his new partner, Shanley, and her two children after falling out with his mum.
Speaking from her home, Shanley says: “Obviously I knew the situation with his past and what he’s been involved in and everything else.
“But I wouldn’t have him living here doing criminal activity obviously, I’ve got two children. If I thought he was going to do something stupid I wouldn’t put any faith in him.”
She adds that she knows Rhys appreciates his mum and ‘loves her to bits’.
But she says: “He can’t keep saying sorry, he’s got to show it.”
Later in the programme, nearly four months after Rhys’s release, Shanley accompanies him to court over an assault he carried out on a fellow inmate while locked up.
Rhys says: “I do feel bad for what I’ve done. I’m not gonna hide the fact he deserved a slap.
“He deserved a slap, but he didn’t deserve them injuries.”
Locked up again within days of his 21st
He later attends crown court with Shanley and his mum, who is back supporting him despite their earlier fall-out and everything he’s put her through.
Standing outside the building, Joy says: “The judge could see that he’s been making an effort and decided to adjourn it and for Rhys to prove himself a bit more.”
Rhys later celebrates his 21st birthday – his first one in four years out of prison and a milestone that his worried mum never expected him to reach – with his loved ones.
But within 18 days of the celebration, he’s back inside.
Devastated Joy says: “He was dealing drugs, he wants to make a quick buck and he seems to think that’s the only way to do it. I know Shan was heartbroken.”
‘He seems to think that’s the only way to make a quick buck’
Another ex-offender who appears in episode two of Life After Lock-Up is Jason, 46, who has been in and out of prison since age 13 and is nervous about living on ‘the out’.
He goes shoplifting in the hope he gets caught and sent back to prison.
Showing off his stolen goods to producers, he says: “I have to do something – so I’ll steal.
“Got a CD player, well it’s a portable tele really so I can watch films on it. I got this – a new Superdry top – deodorant, shaving cream, stole a jacket – Ralph Lauren.”
He adds: “If I’m going to get caught, I might as well get caught for something decent.”
Jason, who has a history of severe depression and attempted suicide, has 147 scars on his body.
He recalls how he was just four when his eight-year-old brother died, heroically shoving him out of the way out of a bus after he stopped in the road to try to pick up something shiny.
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“I wish I was dead and he wasn’t because it was my fault,” he tells producers.
He adds: “My dad battered it into me that it was my fault. Nine years I got it for. He put me in a children’s home. I stabbed him in the head first but he put me in a children’s home then.”
Other convicted criminals who appear in the programme include Tracey, who served eight months for stealing handbags to fund her drug habit, and Gemma, who moves back to a Swindon car park and starts selling sex after a six-week prison term for shoplifting and criminal damage.
- Life After Lock-Up continues tonight, 10pm on Channel 4