Steve Cattell - Addicted to Crime

mp3 audio file download from December 3rd 2006 meeting. Go to his website for a shorter version of his tale. Below is a 47 minute interview with his mate Paul Parkes and him courtesy of Revelation TV.

No childhood

I started my life in child care, I'm not going to go into details because they're too horrendous what happened to my Mum at fifteen but I was a product of something that happened to her and I was placed in care and I went through the care system from birth. I was a bit of a dysfunctional child and got into behavioral problems and at ten I spent three years in isolation, in a cell, some of you might know Stanford House closed unit? It was a proper cell, concrete bed, concrete mattress - the whole thing - so kids can't hurt themselves and burn their cell down.

That very year I started to get an awful lot of hate and anger toward this world. At ten years of age, I look at my son when he was ten and try to put him in the situation I was in. And, I don't know, I kind of walked the cell and had panic attacks. I thought I was gonna die, I couldn't breath. There was no love in there, absolutely no love. The food was good and you had a colour TV and the ping-pong table but, you know, who wants that? I ten year old boy wants love and I started to get a lot of hate and anger. When they let me out of that cell and it was a proper cell with two steel doors, not one but two. Because most kids scream and kick and make and noise so they put a steel door on then they put a wooden door on so that you couldn't be heard.

When they opened that door I came out at thirteen and I wanted to get back at society and I went out and I went on a rampage and I think really now, looking back, I think the devil just grabbed hold of me in that cell and he used me and I went out there and I wanted to destroy everything that was in my path. I started burgling and stabbing people and I carried a knife and I was doing armed robberies and I was doing all sorts of stuff. Burglary gave me a fantastic adrenalin buzz. It just kind of fed an addiction that I had and it overtook my life. I've gone though four marriages. I've lost count of how many children I've got. I've done twenty five years of prison life. Because of my behavioral difficulties, the prison system put me in solitary confinement. I done twelve years on and off in solitary and I found that rather comfortable after the three years that I done I was more used to solitary than I was in the main wing.

My friend Paul, a heroin addict.

That's my early life and I'll bring you up to where I am today. I have a friend and his name is Paul a very good friend of mine, he was a heroin addict. Some days he was doing a thousand pound a day on heroin. If you wonder where he was getting the money, me and him kind of designed a way to open telephone boxes and we were going through this country like wild fire. We were opening phone boxes and you know not ripping them off and doing the silly things that they do but we used our brain and we took a telephone box home and we opened it and we found how you opened a box and we could actually open a box under ten seconds and we kind of went through the whole country and we was literally on about three or four thousand pound a day. He was a heroin addict and I lived a compulsive lifestyle - addiction - mine went on women, clothes, holidays, clothes, jewellery, gambling and the occasional drugs as well. That came to an end, by the way, because they reinforced the doors on the phone boxes and you can now no longer get through, so that come to an end.

rob a Christian camp

Paul phoned me up one night and said that a friend of his had invited him to a Christian camp, which was Faith Camp, in Peterborough. He was going to go down with a friend, the sun was shining, he had all of his heroin, he'd settled himself in for the week and he was looking forward to going camping. He was going to send me the information back, you know, whether we could go down there and rob everybody. I'd kind of said that, you know, that it's gonna be easy because everybody was gonna be over in the main conference place, 'cos he's told me over the phone what it's like and I said, ?Well, just go there with a Stanley knife and kind of cut a hole in the tent, get in and get out and we can do hundreds of them.? I was on bail at the time. I'd just been arrested on possession of heroin with intent to supply - it was a large amount of heroin. I'm looking at between a five and eight year sentence, definitely going to prison. I got me wife and I think I had three children then. It didn't bother me in the slightest. I was quite looking forward to going back to prison. You know, my friends, my family were just as much in prison as they were out of prison. I lived in a criminal world, so I kind of looked forward to going back to prison.

Anyway, no phone call came from my friend Paul. Monday had come, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I was starting to really get annoyed, thinking typical heroin addict, he's nicked everything there for himself and he's not got back to me - but that's what heroin addicts do, you know, they?re very selfish people they don't even look after their friends in crime! So, I kind of steamed round to his house. He lived in Northampton and I was in London. I knocked on his door and I said, "You're a nice friend, you know I'm looking at eight years - we could have really, really had a lot of money at this camp. I mean there must have been thousands of cheque books and credit cards and all kinds of stuff. You know, you've kept it all for yourself, you just wanted to feed your addiction!" "No, No, Steve - that's not how it happened! You've got to listen to this story."

something happend to Paul

So, I'm looking at him and there's kind of something strange about him. He don't look like the Paul that went away. He said, "Steve I was in this main conference hall and there was a Pastor there." He come from Nigeria, I think, Pastor Wilfred Bly[?] and there was four or five thousand people there. And he (the Pastor) said, "There is a heroin addict here, now, that needs to come forward. So all of these Christian people that he had gone a long with said, "Get up there!" He said, "No, no, no. I'm not going up there." They said, "Go on, he must be talking about you." He said, ?I ain't going up there on that stage, right, and having some guy put his hands on me!" So, anyway, this Pastor, I mean I've seen Wilfred[?] he's a fantastic man and he really rants and raves and everything and apparently he was screaming, "THIS HEROIN ADDICT NEEDS TO COME ON THIS STAGE - NOW and he's there somewhere!" And he's pointing in the direction of where he was. And so he said, "Oh, I've got nothing to lose, I'll go up". So he went up and this Pastor prayed on him and said, you know, get rid of all this heroin and whatever's in your body and go! And he said he felt nothing, absolutely nothing.

But that night he went back, he had a one man tent, and there was a kind of vision in the tent and there was like, a voice, speaking to him and there was a light and it frightened him so much, you know, that he legged it out of the tent and he ran round the camp and because there's a curfew there was nobody to talk to and he was too frightened to go back into the tent so he was walking around the camp all night. First of all he thought he had a flashback from heroin or LSD or something he's had in his past but he had a message. The message was that "in the morning you will be baptised and I will meet you there". So, in the morning he's gone up to the Pastor from the church group that he went with and he said, "This is what happened," blah, blah, blah "And God told me that I need to baptised." And the Pastor said, "I think we'll wait until we get back to the church and we'll discuss that." And he said, "Well, I don't care about you. There's hundreds and hundreds of Pastors here. I'll find one that will do it." So he said, "OK, if that's what God said, then we'll do it!" So, they all went and found a river and they got in the river and he said, "God, I've done rehabs, I've done prison, I've done the methadone, I've done every single thing to get off heroin, and I've got off it but I've never, ever been able to have the desire for heroin taken from me, ever, and I always go back to it. Please, God, take that desire from me!" And, BANG! under the water and apparently he took the two guys that were baptising him under as well!

And that was it - this is his story to me, right, and I'm saying, "Your nuts - absolutely bonkers!" But I love my friend and I've known him for over twenty-odd years and I met him in prison and I think the world of him and heroin was killing him. He was fifteen and a half stone and he went down to about eight stone, his eyes were in the back of his head! He's died already once and they've brought him back again on the operating table, so I kind of thought, well, I don't care, you know, I don't believe in God - I don't believe in all of that nonsense. But if this gets my friend back to me, how he used to be when I first met him, then, OK, go for it! So, he started to put weight on and he got married and he got custody of his child back and his life moved on.

A heroin dealing charge

I'm still on bail and he's phoning up very regular and he keeps saying, "Accept Christ" and, you know, "Give your life to The Lord" and I'm saying, "Look, you're fine. I'm in lots of trouble, I'm going to Prison for eight years and I'm looking for two ways. I'm either going to get a lot of money and do a runner or I'm gonna get a lot of money and put it aside for when I get out, I can carry on the lifestyle/addiction that I've got. Something to look forward to but there is no other option. Certainly not your option because it ain't working. I'm going to jail. I've got caught with the scales, I've got with the heroin, I've got caught with the money, there is no way I'm not going to prison."

I got arrested. A bit later on I'm on bail. I got arrested for twelve burglaries I'd just done in twenty four hours. The police come, smashed my door down, my Wife was out, I had my six or seven year old boy - he was terrified, he hid behind the settee and wouldn't come out. The police put the cuffs on, took me out, took me to the police station. I went into the interview room, waited for my solicitor from London to come up. It's gonna be a no-comment interview. I never ever said anything but no-comment. They're paid to catch me; I'm not paid to grass myself up! I sat down and I started, and remember this is on tape now, it's not the old-fashioned way where they write it, they have got a guy writing as well but it goes on to tape. So, I started saying, "I'm out of control and I'm doing six to eight thousand burglaries a year and I just can't stop and it's over-took me. I am in the grip of something very, very powerful and evil and I just can't stop it! I don't even want to be making this statement!"

My solicitor stopped me. He said, "Can we stop this interview please. I want a word with my client." He said, "Carry on like you're doing and you can get the maximum - fourteen years." And I said, "Well, it's got to come to an end now." Why this was pouring out of me, I don't know. Because I couldn't stop it. But this was pouring put from within. So I carried on and I made this statement, "I'm committing six to eight thousand burglaries and I can't stop and I can't walk past a house without burgling it the next day, if I can't do it instantly. I'm going into blocks of flats; I'm doing eight burglaries in a block. I'm not coming out till I've done them all. I'm going round the whole country. I'm defrauding banks, defrauding building societies, I'm earning up to thirty thousand pound a week. I just cannot stop. I'm just totally addicted to this life of crime. And it isn't just burglaries, there's other serious things involved as well." And I'm saying all of this and it's gone all down on tape.

At the end of the interview the solicitor says that I'll see you in court in the morning, you're get remanded in custody to Winchester. So, I said, "Ok, so can you phone my Wife tell her, you know, to do the norm. Get her to send me some money in, a change of clothes and me trainers and what else I can have in." And, all of a sudden, a guy from upstairs came downstairs, the Sergeant, and said, "You're bailed." And I thought, they're having some kind of laugh, how can they bail me you know, I mean, I'm telling them I'm going to go out and commit burglaries! I'm looking at eight years for heroin! Well, they bailed me, they gave me my property. He looked astonished, the solicitor, totally astonished! And I didn't even understand what was going on here, whether God was in on all of this, I wasn't into all of this at that time.

One thing I do know is that when I came out of that police station all of the crime inside of me disappeared. Everything! I didn't look at a house anymore and say, "I'm gonna burgle that one tomorrow." I didn't look at a block of flats and say, "I'm gonna come back and have a better look at that." The whole desire of crime had gone! Well I went home, now I'm looking at, I don't know, ten years maybe if the Judge wants to give me it. So, I suppose about six weeks had past and I was in the town centre, I was driving past a church and I stopped. I thought, ?I'll go in I'll give it a go, I'll give anything a chance here to get out of this mess." I have to say, my Wife and children I totally did not love. I have never loved anything or anybody in my whole life. Used them, yes. Get a woman pregnant, put her in the dock, get a reduced sentence. Kids? The more you've got, the better report the probation service do. I manipulate the whole system. I ain't alone. There's people out there do it, that's part and parcel of a criminal life. We learn that very quickly.

So, I go in this church and I sit and I just look, you know, and there's a cross there and a big stained window and stuff and I just said, you know, "God, if you can change my friend Paul's life, why can't you change mine?" Well, I came out of that church feeling more depressed than I did when I went in because there was no bolts of lightening or, "Yes, I will my Son" and I kind of thought, ?This don't work!?

Beginning to love

Well, three weeks had passed and we had an eighteen month old baby and my Wife said, "Look, she's really driving me mad. Can you get her out?" So we went over to a pub with a big garden and a lake at the bottom of the garden and I was standing there watching the boats go past and she was in this little sand pit. And I wouldn't play with them, I wouldn't ever play with the kids, you know, I'd just didn't know about relationships and all of a sudden I heard a terrifying scream and I looked around and my little eighteen month old girl was screaming in terror. She thought her Dad had gone and I kind of leant down and put my arms out and she run to me and she fell over and she run and she fell over and then she fell into my arms and she clung on and as she clung on something happened to me. Tears started falling down my face. For the first time in forty years I felt love and emotion and as a Father would for his daughter I went home. I had a kind of different feeling for my Wife and my other children and the whole thing had changed.

I?ve still got Paul on the phone, four, five times a week, you know. ?You?ve got bail ?cos you?ve told the truth and The Lord set you free.? Well, you know, I?m going to prison for eight to ten years and The Lord ain?t setting me free. Nobody can get out of what I?m in. It?s impossible ? you can?t do it! There?s people doing fives just for the heroin that I?ve got. So the first court case came up, the burglaries came up first. They came up before the drugs, because the officers were on holiday. So, I?ve gone to court. The judge has adjourned it for fifteen minutes before sentencing. So we go outside. This is, you know, completely a different person. I had to go into my children?s? bedroom for the first time in my life with feelings and I had to kiss ?em whilst they were asleep and say goodbye, your Dad?s not coming home and they was asleep. I was a total mess. I took eighty sleeping tablets with me to court, you know, in a very uncomfortable place, as Steve would know so I could get them in. And there is no way after three days, if I couldn?t face prison, that I was going to live. I?d made my mind up ? I was gonna die. There was no way that I?m gonna survive prison. Emotion kills people in prison, it?s a fact. Too many of my friends have died in prison because their Wives have said it?s over and they?ve gone and hanged themselves or cut their wrists and it ain?t happening to me. To tell you the truth I haven?t got the courage to do that, to hang myself or to do my wrists and yet I can take fifty or sixty sleeping tablets and not wake up.

So they?ve adjourned it and we?ve gone outside and we?re sitting on a bench. There?s a barrister, my Wife?s holding and squeezing my hand. I said to the barrister, word for word, ?There is no winners here today ? I?m going to prison. The prosecution has absolutely nailed me to the floor. He has said every single thing. He?s a compulsive burglar, he?s doing eight thousand burglaries, by his own admission he can?t stop. How do we know your Honor, in the last six months he?s been on bail, he just hasn?t been caught. He?s a very clever, deceitful man. He has done everything possible to get me the longest prison sentence. I?ve got nearly forty previous convictions, twenty five years of imprisonment, burglary after burglary charges. There is no way I can walk out because inside I?ve changed but outside that?s what you?re seeing, you know, and this is what the judge is going to see.?

Something unusual

Well, I went back in and stood in the dock. Was I frightened? No, because I had eighty sleeping tablets and there was a way out. So that gave me the courage to stand in that dock. The Judge said, ?Would you open the dock.? Remember this is a Crown Court, so anybody that?s been in a Crown Court knows what it?s like. ?Would you open the dock and let the defendant approach the bench.? Well the guards looked at each other in astonishment because as you know in a Crown Court there?s two ways you go ? out the door or down the cells, you don?t go up to the Judge?s bench. So I went up to the Judge?s bench and he said, ?During the fifteen minute adjournment something has told me that progress can be made in your life and I am going to give you the longest suspended sentence that I possibly can. I?m going to give you five years, suspended for two. I can do that because you are going in my personal file.? Otherwise it would have only been two for two but he actually put up a bit of paper and asked me to say what it was and I said, ?It?s a piece of paper?. He said, ?No it?s not, it?s the brightest piece of paper in my file and I?ve underlined five years. Go out and make progress.? And I walked out of that court!

I didn?t walk out with any kind of celebrations, champagne nothing, nothing at all. It was, I suppose, astonishment. Yes, I?ve got my mate Paul giving praise to The Lord that, you know, God?s in control of this and this is His plan and I?m saying, ?I?m going to prison, heroin is a very big thing at the moment. I mean it was very much in the public eye, I?m going up for it, I?m pleading not guilty, I?m lying my way out of this.? Well we turn up to the Crown Court for the heroin trial and my friend Paul turned up and he was literally marching up and down outside saying, ?If you change your plea to guilty, The Lord?s told me He will set you free.? And I said, ?I don?t believe it, I really don?t believe it.? He said, ?I?m telling you, God has told me you-will-go-home-tonight!? So, did I do it because I believed my friend Paul? If I said yes that would be a lie. I said, ?I?m gonna change my plea.? I said to my solicitor, ?What will I get if I change to guilty?? He said, ?It?s very late in the day, you?ve lost most of the credit. I think if it goes wrong, six years. I think you?re looking at four years, we?re try for three years nine.? Well, that would have been half if I could get under the four. So I thought, ok, maybe just maybe ? I never get parole, I?ve never had parole, maybe I could get through eighteen or twenty months, I don?t know. But I had the sleeping tablets as well, so I had a second option. I did believe in my Wife though and my Wife had now started to believe in me. So I knew she would be there and I wouldn?t lose her during that sentence.

Confessing

So I went in, I had to actually go into a room with a police officer and make a new statement. No barrister allowed, no solicitor allowed just me and that police officer. I started to tell the police officer how long I?d been selling heroin and he said, ?Stop Steve, I don?t want to know how long you?ve been selling it!? Well I said, ?I?ll tell you how much money I?ve been earning as well.? And he said, ?I don?t want to know all of that. Only the day you got arrested.? And I said, ?No, no?. Now we?re back to the police station again where I can?t stop telling the truth! I?m putting myself away, as the police officer said, ?The more you give me the longer you?ll get.? I said, ?It doesn?t matter, I have to tell you how long I?ve been doing it, how much money I?ve got from it and that?s the statement.?

Now, God is very clever, you know. He?s clever and he knows how to work it out. I?ve gone back in court and the prosecution stood up, my barrister stood up and I was in the dock and the judge said, ?I?ve read the statement.? The barrister said, ?Yes, I?ve read the statement, Your Honor,? the prosecution, ?Yes, I?ve read the statement Your Honor.? The judge said, ?Prosecution have you anything to say?? This is word-for-word. ?Your Honor, in all the years of being a prosecutor I have never ever read a more honest and frank statement from any defendant.? At that point my barrister sat down and the prosecution started to get me released! He?s very clever, that?s how God works. This is absolutely true, when I walked out with another suspended sentence I had the prosecution outside in the passage and he shook my hand and wished me the greatest of luck for the future. Well this guy is paid by everybody in this room to lock people away but he stood there and waited for me to come out! And I went home; it kind of hadn?t sunk in. You can imagine my mate Paul, can?t you? ?Cos everything he?d told me, mate, had come right! You know, he trusted in God. He trusted in God and I didn?t really understand all of that but, wow, was I about to go on a journey with God!

Church and life

And about three weeks went past and I went down to the betting shop, didn?t make the betting shop. I wanted to have a bet on the football but there was a Baptist church across the road and I decided to go to the Baptist church rather than the betting shop. The team I was gonna back won, by the way! I was gonna have a tenner two-nil and they won two-nil, I think God knew that anyway, wanted to keep me out of that betting shop! So I went in there and I kinda sat at the back. The service was going on and it was really strange, you know and isolated to sit at the back. And it was isolated, you know and I kind of just said, ?God, I don?t know if your real. I don?t know if you exist. But if you do, just thank-you for giving me my family, giving me my life back, love, emotion and a new start. And I was kind of stuck in the church and couldn?t get out. And believe me when I say this, I-wanted-to-get-out to have that bet two-nil but there was something holding me.

Even at that moment God started using me because I sat at the end of a fifteen seat isle and everybody that left at the end said, ?Excuse me.? Because I couldn?t move and just sat there and they all just went past me. One guy came over and said, ?Are you ok, do you need somebody to pray and talk with?? But I think the fifteen people shouldn?t have actually passed by, the first one should have said, ?Hi, I haven?t seen you here before.? I talk about that but that?s part and parcel of fellowship and it needs to be addressed.

I done two and a half years in the Baptist church. I live in a very, very middle class suburban area and believe me; I come from Stoke Newington, right? It?s no different from Brixton whatsoever. I mean I love Stoke Newington, I love the streets, when I walk through this door I feel a love, a warmth, I feel The Spirit moving, I feel it all. I sometimes just feel like I?m home. I don?t want to go; I want to take you all with me. But I?m going back to a middle class area, I?m honest, I?m truthful, I don?t care about my neighbours and what they think. I?m God?s child. My Wife doesn?t tend to agree. She says, ?You?re too honest and too open.? And maybe I am but every house now in my street has got a burglar alarm, you know, so I?m working well!

I have to say that in the Baptist church where I was, that the Pastor of the church was a loving man. I adore him and he was great and he was always there for me. I can?t be critical of the congregation, they just did not relate to my past and that was it. But God wanted me to be placed in there. God put me in the middle of a place. I felt hurt, I felt rejection, I felt left out of every single thing. I came home, I cried. My Wife felt pain for me. I never got invited to a home. The Pastor came round and he actually broke down in my arms, in my house and said, ?Steve, they just don?t really relate to your past and it?s not that they don?t trust you, it?s a matter that you?re from a different background and our church have not experienced someone like you in it.? And I said, ?That?s why God?s put me in there! For these people to learn.? I spent two and a half years in the church and I still go to the church but I?ve kind of grown up now. And no longer do I feel pain or hurt or anything like that, now I?m just available, if someone wants me I?m there. But God?s using me everywhere. I go into the prison system now and do an awful lot of talks in the prison system.

Opportunities

After I gave my life to The Lord and got baptised, I kind of went home and I broke down. It was around two in the morning and I said, ?God, how can I work for you? I?ve got eighteen months of my license on probation left, nobody trusts me, I?ve got no friends. All my friends from my criminal past have gone, no Christian person talks to me, you?ve stuck me right in the middle of an environment and I?m lonely and I feel rejected and unloved.? And I broke down. And God really spoke to me and said, ?And so was My Son rejected. But you will have every door opened and I will walk beside you every step of the way.? And, you know, when I said to my probation officer, ?I can help you so much if I could go back into the prison system.? The probation officer said, ?Steve, you?ve got eighteen months of your license left.? You know what? I got back into prison after seven months. Seven months with seventeen months of my license still to go and I had a little card with 'S Cattell HM Prison, the whole thing, Offenders Anonymous, written on it. And it was great because the probation service said I couldn?t do it for at least three or four years, so it was great to be able to put that card on and say, ?Well, I?m in! I?ve gone in and I?m doing good work.?

We had a phone call from a lady and she said, ?Steve, I?ve heard that you need to be at the Care For Ex-Offenders Conference, Alpha for prisons, Holy Trinity in Knightsbridge.? And I said, ?Well, you might have had a word but I don?t fancy it because I?m a relatively new Christian and they don?t smoke and I feel uncomfortable.? And she said, ?No, it?s not like that, it?s very relaxed.? I said, ?Well, I?m skint anyway and I can?t go.? The conference was Thursday, it was now Monday and I phoned up my Pastor at the Baptist church and explained to him that this lady?s had a word and I need to be there and I?m skint and so fifty quid was slipped through my letter box. So, I phoned up and the lady at Holy Trinity said, ?Sorry, we?re fully booked.? But I explained that this lady had had a word and I need to be there. So they said, ?Well, if God said you need to be here, I?d better put you in.? So, she booked me in!

Then God said to me, ?Go back to the Pastor?s house and put the fifty pound back through his letter box.? And so I thought, ?But I?ll be skint! How can I get there?? So, ok, I?m believing now in God and trusting God, right? I know that even after a relatively short time of six or seven months that I have a relationship with my Father and I trust him. So, if he says, ?Go and put it back?, then put it back I will! I know when it?s Steve and I know when it?s my Dad. So I went and put the fifty quid back and I rang the Pastor back and explained to him that God said, ?Put the fifty quid back.? I then phoned up my Step-Son and said, ?Can you borrow me fifty quid, I need to get to a conference, I?m skint. So he said, ?I?ll bring it round for you Dad.? So, he bought me fifty quid round.

Anyway, Thursday I got to the conference. I?ve walked through and this is literally what happened. I?ve walked through the door and the reception is right just inside the door. And as I walked in through the door I went, ?Morning!? The woman behind the counter said, ?Morning Steve!? I said, ?We haven?t met have we?? I said, ?I don?t know you!? She said, ?No, but as soon as you walked through the door I just knew you were Steve.? I said, ?How?? She said, ?I just knew it was Steve. Go downstairs, Steve, and register.? So, I went downstairs, in this crypt, there?s the big book, big foolscap pages. I?m really frightened because I?m a new Christian, you know, I?ve got to be honest, you know, and make sure I pay on the nail. And I?m looking down and hoping I?ve got it right, it?s forty pound registration. I?m counting all the money and looking down the page of this book and I?m the very last name because I was the last person booked and it?s got zero-zero-zero-zero. So I thought, ?Well, I?ve got no money next to mine. It?s the only one on the page that hasn?t got a pound note sign next to it.? So I said to this Christian guy that?s running it, ?Excuse me, mate, I?m a Christian now and I?ve got to be honest. Do you want my money or not?? And he went, ?No. You don?t have to pay, you?re sorted.? So, I went back upstairs and it?s strange really because outside there?s a little park, if anybody?s been to HTB, there?s a little park and I run over to the back and I hid behind the tree and I was having a cigarette. And I was hiding. And when I put my head out, like that, there was about forty people all standing outside the main door puffing cigarettes! So I kind of thought, yeah, you know Christians are real people - they don?t have to hide!

Offenders Anonymous

So I went inside and I walked about and I listened and it was alright. There were Ex-Offenders, born-again Christians doing Alpha and stuff and there was a guy sitting right upstairs in the corner, all on his own. And he had a sign, Offenders Anonymous ? Addiction To Crime. Wang! I went Straight up to him. ?I-have-been-waiting-since-I-was-ten-years-of-age-to-hear-that-word ? addiction to crime. Crime-is-an-addictive-way-of-life but it?s not recognized, not treated and not addressed. ?What made you come here with that?? He said, ?Well, I work in Feltham and I?m a counsellor and I spent six months with a boy and he really struggled with drugs whether it was crack, heroin or whatever. And, do you know what, Steve? Four weeks after he gets out, he?s back again. And it just keeps going on, and on, and on. And I just felt that it needed to be addressed as an addictive lifestyle.? And we talked and we started the Offenders Anonymous ? that has carried on.

We?re now liked with America, Canada, I think that for anyone that was here I talked about the Canada thing last time. But we had an email only two months ago from Canada from two guys that were drug addicts, spent half their lives in prison, alcoholics, armed robbers, selling drugs, all kinds of stuff ? in a lifestyle of crime. They?d been in rehabs, they?d done detox, they?d done every conceivable thing that they system can give ?em to get out of this cycle of addiction ? and it?s all failed. So, they decided to do an addiction, 12-Step programme, just like AA or NA and in two years five hundred and twenty three people per week attend these meetings. That 12-Step programme saves millions of lives all throughout the world. For me, it?s been one long, hard battle because Christian people would turn round and say, ?If you can?t accept Christ then that?s it, finished!? I?m sorry, but God uses every single, conceivable thing to reach people.

If anybody doesn?t know how the 12-Step programme started, one guy walked into a church in America and he was what they called in them days, they called him ?Bum?. That?s what he was. He walked in and told the vicar of the church that he?s in a terrible mess and wants to kill himself. He said, ?Is there anyone I can talk to? I?m an alcoholic ? I can?t stop drinking.? In them days it weren?t like an addiction, it weren?t addressed and that was it. And the vicar actually turned around and said, ?I think I?ve got a guy in my congregation who also has a drink problem and he put the two of them together and they formed AA. So it actually started in a church and if you look at the 12-Steps you?ll an awful lot of it is very, very spiritual and scriptural.

We?ve been trying to get this into the prison system for so many years and it?s like hitting your head against a brick wall. In May I spoke to seven thousand people at the NEC and we had everybody, from the Home Office, every organisation in the country. And al I could do was walk on that stage and I just picked up that mike and I just screamed, ?Just open them gates and let people like me and Steve and many tens of thousands of people like us into the prison system. Because we can work, we can!? And, do you know what? Still the gates are being shut. They are being shut, we can?t get in there. I actually went into my first prison, Rochester Young Offenders, the chaplain took me straight to the punishment block. Fortunately I got out, they didn?t keep me in there! But there were two seventeen year old boys in there. And this is five minutes of what happened, that?s all I stood there for, five minutes. And I said, ?My name is Steve.? You know they?ve got me down as this burglar, this right raving lunatic burglar and stuff and, you know, there were two prison officers there, the chaplain and two seventeen year old boys. And the first boy said to me, ?I love doing burglaries, Steve.? I said, ?You see ?love?? Love?s an addiction. But it?s a healthy addiction. To profess the love of burgling someone?s home is an unhealthy addiction. And to profess that love to it in the punishment blocks, still serving a sentence at seventeen years of age ? your going back to that lifestyle. The second one, he went like that, so tight that the knuckles turned white. I said, ?Look, you?re getting an adrenaline rush!? he said, ?But, Steve, when you get in the door and the jewellery box and you open it in the bedroom!? I said, ?I had all of that. All of it! You know, I got that on Saturday when Gilberto scored the winning goal for Arsenal. That is a healthy rush of adrenalin. But to do that thinking about somebody?s home! What do you think you?re gonna do when you get out?? And these two boys said, ?I suppose we are addicted to that life, ain?t we Steve? We?ll go back to it.? And this is them, quote, this is exactly what they said, ?Where can we get some help for it Steve?? And I said, ?At the moment, you?re looking at it." This was five minutes. You know what the chaplain said? ?Steve, we need you in here every single day!? I said, ?No, every single prison in the country needs people like me every single day.? And do you know what? He tried to get me in and do you know what the Governor said? ?Sorry, we don?t have Ex-Cons.? That is the state of the British prison system! So how, how can I save those two seventeen year old boys from a lifestyle of addiction to crime, if I can?t even get in the prison system? But?you know, God opens doors and when it?s the right time them doors will be open.

Maybe this year The Book will open them doors? It seems the prison systems likes high profile Christians, celebrity Christians. If you?re a celebrity Christian you can go into Prison, you know, it?s wrong but that?s the life we seem to have got into at the moment. But God has actually got me in colleges, schools?I had a phone call from the local college, ?Would you come in and talk to the students?? First time I?d ever had anybody like that phone me and ask that. So I said yes, then I went away and I prayed about it and asked God, ?Why do you want me in there?? College is a place of knowledge. Prisons, yeah, and all kinds of gangs and housing estates and I walk the streets and witness to anybody but a college is a bit out of my zone! ?Cos it?s optional, you go to college because you want to be there or so I thought, until I turned up. But I turned up and they were smoking marijuana on the field and the security guards were walking around with walkie-talkies and ?Security? on their back and you could actually hear them saying, ?I?m going past the education C-Block and everything?s ok, over.? I thought, you know, ?there?s more security in here than there is in Parkhurst. This is ridiculous! This is a college!? But this college caters for predominantly Tottenham, Edmonton and Enfield as well as Hertfordshire.

So, I?ve gone into the class. All the tables and chairs are there and all my stuff is down, addiction to crime and prison life and all whatever they?ve put out for them. No students ? empty! So, there was four teachers and I said, ?maybe they don?t want to listen to me. I?ll go home.? So they said, ?No, nobody comes to class. We have to go and find them.? I said, ?What?! What do they come here for?? They said, ?Oh, because they get ?44 a week, because that?s what the government gives them.? So, they come in. I?ll tell you something. I done Sky News Live and that was the most terrifying moment, going out to millions and millions of people. Because you don?t know what questions they?re gonna ask and it was lunchtime and it was actually after Anthony Walker got murdered and the two kids that got sentenced and I was terrified! This classroom, I didn?t know where I was! I?ve got kids with hoods on, they are swearing, they are throwing aeroplanes at each other, they?ve got elastic bands and they are flicking things and, you know, one kid is trying to smoke and the teacher is telling him to put it out and wait until smoke break. You know, I thought, ?What?s going on here!?

So I?m sitting there totally terrified and one kid has walked in and I?m not going to repeat what he said but one kid has walked in and he?s got a hood, you couldn?t even see him. How he could walk along with them hoods and not walk into a wall, I don?t know! But the hood was down here, and he?s walked in and he?s picked up these leaflets and said, ?Prison? Yeah, all I want to know is do they do this in the showers?? And, you know, it wasn?t as polite as that. And I thought, well, this is how they communicate with each other, so be it! So I?ve actually got off me table, walked over, I?ve kind of looked underneath his hood and I said, ?I very much doubt it, mate, with a face like yours!? Right? And that seemed to be the way that you communicate with these kids because there was a roar of laughter, all of the kids that focused on me now focused on him. But after twenty five minutes, every teacher in this college and this college is two colleges holding 16,000 students and it?s hardcore. There?s people getting mugged at the bus stop every night and it?s pretty hardcore in there with drugs and whatever. But every teacher in the vicinity of that area stopped their class and came over and listened to my talk and they stood at the door. At thirty minutes, I stopped it and I said, ?We?re stopping now, we?re go out and have a cigarette.? The teachers went left, I went right and had a fag with the kids. The first person that come up ? a girl. ?Steve, I really identify with your life. I?m on bail for aggravated burglary. I bashed an old lady and took her money in her house.? The second one, ?I?m on bail for possession of crack cocaine. These are fifteen, sixteen year olds! The third one, ?I?m on bail for burglary.? The fourth one, ?I?ve got to go back to the police station for stealing a car.? I got these kids to open up in thirty minutes to something that the teachers didn?t even know! Why? Because the teachers went left for a cup of coffee and they didn?t go right and have a fag with them. Plus, they can?t relate to the kids because that?s not part of their background. And that?s not having a dig at the teachers because, wow, do they do a hard job!

After that, I didn?t get out the door, every teacher said, ?Will you come back this afternoon and take my class. Would you do the next day, the day after and I now work as many times as they keep phoning me up to go in. I?ve had kids, thirty, forty students in class saying, ?Bring him in, we?ll rip him to bits! We?ve heard all about him.? But funnily enough, the Home Office came down with a photographer and done a photo session for their magazine, The Sharp End, magazine. And the forty kids from Edmonton and Tottenham, who are basically the hardcore who said they were going to rip me to bits, sat there for an hour and twenty minutes in total silence and never said a word! As I walked out I said to the Home Office photographer and the teacher, ?I think I?ve kind of fluffed it, don?t you? Not one question, they said they were going to rip me to bits!? He said, ?Steve, I think what you actually done was stole their thunder and they were in total shock and silenced.? But I?m reaching them.

Another college last month out in Hertfordshire, a different college booked me to go in and do a talk and I said, ?Yeah, I?ll come in.? The Head emailed every teacher in the college and said, ?No, do not have him in ? we don?t have Ex-Cons into our college!? I have to say that the truth is that they phoned up and cancelled it. I had a thing there and I kicked across my front room and I said, ?That?s it ? I can?t go on no more! I?m just sick of the system shutting door, after door, after door? And my Wife said, ?Steve, that?s the Devil ? that?s the Devil! You pick yourself up and you carry on with every-single-thing that?s happening.? And do you know what? I said, ?You?re right. I?m not going to give the Devil anything! I?m going to reach these kids where they?re at. Two days later I had another phone call from that same college. I don?t know anybody in this college, no teachers, no students, no anybody! Two hundred students marched towards the Head?s office and demanded that Steve Cattell come in and do a talk and he couldn?t stop it! So, you know, I?m kinda getting in that way and I?m doing everything, TV and books and all kinds of stuff and I?m going around the country and God really is using me. He is my Dad, you know, every morning I wake up I have a great relationship with Him. I didn?t have a Mum and Dad, I didn?t grow up with one. He?s my Dad, if I want something I ask Him for it. He?ll either give me it or he won?t give me it. That?s the relationship I?ve got.

Testimony recorded at third Transformed meeting in December 2006. Transcribed from the mp3 audio file very painstakingly by Stephen. I mean it is long! 9 pages of A4. Thank you!