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“It looked like I was pleading guilty…”

Photo by Kipras Štreimikis on Unsplash

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Part 12
Again my court date was looming, and Linsey had booked a double visit in order to go through all the details of the case. This time when I went through the visits protocol, I found that we had been given a private room so were able to spread everything out over the desks. She was worried that there was quite a bit of evidence which didn’t look good. The prosecution had not been able to access my phones, so they had ordered transcripts of text messages from my service provider, and I had to admit they were pretty damning.

Previously they had tried to squeeze my phone passwords out of me, by insinuating that I was guilty by not providing them, claiming that if I had nothing to hide, I should hand them over, but in fact I had a lot to hide — namely my credit card numbers, celebrity friends’ phone numbers, internet banking details, and most importantly, the naked pictures of almost every chem-sex friendly Queen from throughout the Greater London London region and beyond, including a few, in flagrante, of some of their colleagues! So no, I was not prepared to just hand over the passwords for all in sundry throughout the metropolitan police to ogle over, and in fact, this had of course been why it had taken them so long to gather the evidence and they were now hell bent on making something stick.

A couple of the texts had mentioned drugs in a vague sort of way, and I reasoned with Linsey that just because we had talked about them, it didn’t mean I had bought or sold any, but she didn’t think it would wash. There were some 989 pages of evidence, partly statements from the police and the so called drug experts who had over inflated the value of the drugs they had found, by taking the average purity of those found on the street, and then estimating what mine would have been worth if it had been cut to the same strength, which was completely unfair, but of course if I tried to argue this, I would look like I knew a hell of a lot about dealing drugs, which was exactly what I was trying to avoid.

For the first time Linsey mooted the idea of pleading guilty, but I was horrified at this. I needed to get out of prison at the earliest available opportunity, and the way I saw it at this stage, admitting guilt was not they way to accomplish that end! We talked about it at length. They were trying to paint me out as the wicked villain in the whole process, and I was confident that if it went to trial, I could make the judge and jury see that in fact I had been rather naïve and silly, and not the hardened criminal the Crown prosecution were painting me out as, at the very least!

Over the next few days I talked about it at length with Mark and he was obviously of the opinion that I should fight it, having been stitched up so badly in his own case, and it was obvious, he said, that lawyers and prosecutors could not be trusted. On the other hand I kept doing the figures in my head, and I reasoned that if they were realistic, and classified me as a category 3 lesser role, the starting point would be three years, six months. I would get a third off if I was to plead guilty, bringing the total down to two years four months, of which I would serve half, bringing the time inside down to fourteen months, and I already had two months credit for time on tag, and had already served two months on remand, so I could be out in twelve more months, so it didn’t seem too bad. The advantage to pleading guilty also, as Linsey had pointed out, was that I would avoid a media frenzy over it, and the possibility of being sued by networks and cast members of my television projects for damages, were the case to be exposed.

I just didn’t know what to do, but I had decided that if the Prosecution were going to insist that I was a leading role, I would have no choice but to fight it. Again no one had told us this, but we were permitted to have our own clothes sent in during the first month we were in prison, and again after six months. This was extremely important to my confidence and self esteem. I was determined that I wasn’t going to become institutionalised and conform to the regulation Prison Greens. I had always hated track suits, and only ever wore them at the gym, so I was damned if I was going to start slopping around in them all day in here! I might have been in Prison, but I still had standards!

Therefore I had booked another visit for Edd and he was coordinating with Tom to bring in enough supplies to conform to the regulations, but at the same time give me a mix and match wardrobe, but this was not without its troubles. Both of them seemed to be insanely jealous of each other, and neither seemed to want to compromise. They were both as stubborn as each other as well, so Tom was insisting that Edd drive over and collect the clothes, and Edd wanted them delivered, so I was stuck in the middle.

In the end Edd gave in, and when he arrived, Tom was not in, but had left a bag of items with his house guest, and once he’d got them home and inspected them, it was a rather random selection of probably the most worn, ill-fitting and garish items I owned. Edd was furious and quick to point out that he had played no part in the selection process, however this was only the beginning of the drama.

Mark had also been experiencing troubles with getting access to his clothing and belongings. When he had first been brought in, they had thought he was suicidal as he’d been so upset, so had placed him on an ACCT order or Assessment, Care in Custody order, usually for clinically depressed, which basically meant they would take away everything you could possibly use to harm yourself, including shoelaces, razor blades, even haircombs, but certainly all of your personal clothing. This usually lasted for 14 days, and by then he had been transferred to my cell, so if he’d wanted to suicide he could just as easily have slit his wrists with my razor blades!

Anyway, his clothes had been placed in property, and after the 14 days, when the ACCT was lifted, they said he could have them back, but there was always some reason why it couldn’t happen that day. They were either short staffed, or there was no one in property, or the paperwork hadn’t come through, and the list went on… In short it was simply that they were too tired and lazy to walk the 200m across to reception to collect it, so instead of doing it once and that being the end of it, they spent the next 25 days inventing lies to prevent them having to exert the effort needed to walk there and back.

I could honestly say that I had never in my entire 50 years, met a group of people so bone idle, and I’d like to say that it was limited to just those locally, but it was the same at every prison I went to, and throughout the writing of this book I have received similar reports from other inmates at other prisons all over the country, so it’s no wonder the system is at breaking point!

My experience in getting access to mine was similar. From the day Edd had brought them in, I had waited over two weeks before finally in total exasperation one of the officers gave in and begrudgingly went for a walk. It took him less than 10 minutes for the round trip!

When I did finally receive them however, I was bitterly disappointed. Tom normally had impeccable taste in clothes, and had also known that we only had a very small window in which to have them delivered. He also knew how important it was to me to look good, so it felt like a double kick in the guts! When I asked him on the phone about his choices, he had said that he didn’t want to send anything of value to me because he knew it would get wrecked in prison anyway, but that was not the point and it was not his call to make, I was secretly furious, and couldn’t understand why he would deliberately countermand my wishes, but more about that later!

My court date was looming again and I was still unsure which way I would jump. Linsey came to visit one last time and urged me to plead guilty, but I was in two minds. In the end I told her that if the prosecution would agree to recommending that I was category three, lesser role, I would plead, but otherwise I would fight it, because I was sure that the very least I would have them feeling sorry for me by the end of the trial.

Trial day came, and Alistair met with me before the case was to be heard. I was still undecided but he was pretty sure that pleading guilty would be the right idea as he was worried I would be roasted in the press. He had spoken with the crown prosecutor and had been assured that they were not out for blood but that they would be recommending that I be classed as Category three significant role. By this time I was exhausted, and had almost got to the point that I just wanted it to be over, however I was still mortified at the thought of a possible 6 year, 6 month sentence.

We were still talking when Linsey joined us. ‘The Fat Policeman is outside!’ she cried. ‘He is desperate to talk to you. He has never seen drugs as pure as yours in his entire 35 years on the drug squad, and says that if you were to cooperate with him and let him know where to find the suppliers, he has the power to significantly reduce your sentence!’

This was something I hadn’t factored in, but I reasoned that it might be worth hearing what he had to say. The ‘fat policeman’ incidentally had been my term for him since the day he had tried to con me at the prison. I certainly didn’t have anything to lose by hearing what he had to say, so I agreed to see him. ‘We seem to have got off on the wrong foot’ He opened standing up to greet me as I entered the meeting room. I remained silent. ‘What I was trying to tell you, before you left, was that I have the power to recommend to the judge a reduction of your sentence by up to 60% if you cooperate with us and tell us who your suppliers are.’ This was more like it and I began to listen. ‘Of course it would mean we would have to actually make an arrest.’ he continued, ‘and of course you wouldn’t be able to say a word about it to anyone, not even your lawyer, because otherwise you would be in danger if anyone found out you told us. You are an ideal candidate because you worked alone and don’t have any co-defendants…’

This could well be my ticket out of here and I was already doing the figures. He started again ‘All it would take is for you to give us the names and addresses of your key suppliers, and we’ll have a word to the judge, and make sure he delays sentencing for a further 6 weeks to allow us time to catch them, and providing your information is correct, you could be walking out of here in a matter of a couple of months.’ I couldn’t give them the details of Rick, or Alan, or Alex, they were my friends and I would never sell them out. That Black Cunt, Harrison on the other hand, and the Iranians who had raped me at gun point? fuck them, I had no allegiance to them and would quite happily throw them under a bus. I only hoped that when they were arrested, they would be sent here so I could watch them squirm in their Prison Greens!

It looked like I was pleading guilty. I spilled the beans to him, recalling everything I could about the layout of Harrison’s house and the houses we had visited that day in Walthamstowe, and funnily enough, I’d thought I’d blocked them both out, but when I thought about it, I had quite a memory. The Fat Policeman waddled off to talk to the Judge, and I went back to my counsel to tell them my decision.

Once in court, I stood up in the dock and plead guilty to 8 counts of possession with intent, but not guilty to the stupid little count of money laundering for the £1400 they had confiscated during the first arrest, and the judge started at first, but then moved to strike the charge from the record. They had their main convictions, and I was further remanded until a month later for sentencing.

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Now I was back to waiting again Three days before the trial, the Fat Policeman phoned Linsey to tell her to pass on a message, that he had made a significant breakthrough and I would be looking at a significant sentence reduction. The night before the court case, I was supremely confident, even daring to think that I might even be home this time tomorrow night, as with all these discounts, and the time already served, I had calculated that the worst I could get was another couple of months of incarceration. It was now May, so I was sure I would be out by September, at worst case scenario. Obviously things were looking good if the Fat Policeman had gone out of his way to ring and advise me, weren’t they?

Double Bubble
Double Bubble is the third book in The Chemsex Trilogy — a series of books written by Cameron Yorke about his experience with Chemsex, addiction, and imprisonment in the UK.

We are serialising Double Bubble on Mainly Male. This is the 12th instalment in the serialisation.

The Chemsex Trilogy

Visit Cameron Yorke’s website

Cameron Yorke. Photo by Andres Payo (image supplied)
Cameron Yorke. Photo by Andres Payo (image supplied)

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Arts & Culture

Photography that embraces naked men

“Stop comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet…”

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Arrested Movement by Anthony Patrick Manieri (image supplied)
Arrested Movement by Anthony Patrick Manieri (image supplied)

I caught up with photographer Anthony Patrick Manieri to talk about his ongoing series of work known as Arrested Movement.

Why do you think this project has captured the imagination of gay men around the world?

Because we’re all the same really, except we don’t all look alike. We usually just see what society deems to be the ‘perfect’ body types, flashed across TV and social media all the time.

This project encompasses a wide variety of men that are photographed equally and beautifully. I feel that the variety of men and body shapes being highlighted are recognisable to most men. We need to see diversity represented more in the media. That, and also the idea of male body positivity is refreshing in a world where the media seems to only push female body positivity. In this day and age, where depression and anxiety are extremely commonplace, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in the struggle.

Why are men so keen to be photographed by you for this project?

Because we all want to fit in. We all want to be accepted, and here is a photographic series celebrating all men, all body types, and showcasing them artistically. I think men look at this and can relate and identify with some of the participating models, because they see themselves in the photos.

Most of the men you’ve photographed for this project appear to be first-time models, most likely being professionally photographed naked for the first time. Was that experience confronting for many of your models?

From what I’ve seen, and from what some of my assistants mentioned to me, for most of the men that participate there’s a definite shift in their overall energy levels from when they first arrive at the studio to when they’re done. One assistant asked me — “What is going on in the studio? Because when they arrive they’re quite scared, some even shake with nerves, but when they leave they glow and have this sense of empowerment.”

I make sure that the studio is private and a safe space for them to try and feel as comfortable as possible. I brief them, and coach them with suggestions of possible body movement. I also stop periodically to show the gentlemen their progression so far in the shoot.

Most men, after seeing themselves on the screen during the shoot, are delightfully impressed by how they look. They look at themselves in a positive light artistically, and not what they usually expect to see. I talk to them about how their hands are positioned, their facial expressions, pointing of their feet, and the overall lines of their bodies in the frame.

When you’re not quite happy with your body, putting yourself out there is brave. I watch some men almost lose themselves in the moment and in the music. I’m grateful that I get to witness such a personal moment of self-evolution. For others, they’re determined to take an amazing photo, so they push themselves so that their final image is strong and unique.

Should everyone tackle a naked photo shoot at some point in their lives?

I don’t know if that’s the answer. What people should do is take time to appreciate and accept themselves, to put themselves first. Fill their own cups before extinguishing their energy with others. Uniqueness is special. It’s okay to look different on the outside, because we’re all the same on the inside.

How is the project continuing to evolve?

I’m currently working on the design of the book — I’ll be releasing a Kickstarter page this Fall. I’m also looking at gallery spaces to have the first of many shows.

Are you still actively shooting guys for this project?

I’m still actively photographing men. If it were up to me, I’d be in a different city every weekend photographing.

Since I’m funding this myself, I need to take breaks between cities. Travelling, studio costs, and hotels add up quickly. There are a few cities in the US, Canada, and Mexico that I’d like to do before heading back to Europe. Beyond that, there’s talk of Australia, and possibly some cities in South America for 2019.

How can we help each other feel better about our bodies?

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I think we really need to be kind to ourselves, and each other — daily. Judgement and self-judgement is such a human flaw, it’s like a vibrational plague. We should be detaching ourselves from our smart-phones and social media regularly. Yoga and meditation are great ways to feel centred and grounded, to be in tune with our higher self. Eating right always makes for a happier body and mind. We need to encourage and validate each other to be the best we can be.

What do the images that you’ve captured through this project tell us about gay men and their relationship with their bodies?

Gay culture is meant to be inclusive, and we celebrate that inclusiveness. Though within the gay community, there’s such a divide between men. We’re labelled and put in categories, therefore creating almost a hierarchy of what’s acceptable.

Body-image and self-esteem start in your own mind, not on Instagram. We need to literally stop comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet. We need to make mental health a priority in the gay community.

I hope that when people see this project, they know their worth, they know that they’re beautiful, and that it’s okay to be different.

Meet the participants

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