I have never seen anyone more in of help than Steve. You couldn't watch him for too long without his constant shaking giving you motion sickness, and he just about managed to stay standing when the charges were put to him.
He was picked up in the toilets of a local supermarket with a bottle of vodka that he had tried to take through the security barrier. The alarm went off, he ran to the toilets and had managed to chug 1/3 of the bottle before the security guards yanked the cubicle door open. He had been in custody overnight, so that was the last drink he had had and he was well into withdrawal when we saw him the next morning.
If it seems a bit harsh to lock someone up overnight for stealing a few gulps of cheap vodka, Steve's problem was that last month he had already been up before the Magistrates for stealing vodka from supermarkets. This previous bench had asked Probation for reports and had sent him for a detox at the hospital. All he had to do was speak to probation, save his own life by attending the detox appointment, come back to court to be sentenced and meanwhile stay out of trouble
Steve, however, was so far into the bottle that he managed 0/4 of these tasks. His defence lawyer said that he didn't attend detox out of fear. I can't begin to imagine just how daunting that must be. Probation's attitude seemed to be that they are already fully occupied with people who want help to be wasting time on those who don't attend appointments. Under these circumstances, Steve was definitely going to prison.
Prison is the wrong place for Steve. He'll dry out sure, but all the problems in his life that led him to drink will be there and then some when he gets out. He also won't be in prison for anything like long enough for the prison service to do any work on him.
So Steve's going to be away for a few weeks. I truly hope he hits bottom there and comes out fighting, but I'm experienced enough now to realise that that 's unlikely. I'm pretty sure I'll see him in court again.
But at least I've helped make the world safe for the big supermarkets to continue to make a profit from selling gut-rot vodka to addicts.