Court case masks a human tragedy
THERE was a story last week that made me pause. It was, at its bottom line, a straightforward account of the criminal justice system in action.
The story reported the jailing of two middle-aged men, both fathers to Oban families rooted in their communities, for drug dealing. One man was sent away for eight months, while the other was jailed for seven months. For me, it was a tale of human tragedy for all involved. Some will accuse me of being too liberal and they may be correct. In some respects, this kind of court case is unremarkable. But in this instance, the imprisoning of these two men will resonate long into the future for those close to them. There may be financial hardship ahead while the families’ breadwinners are in prison – and perhaps long afterwards. Their families wept as they were both led away from Oban Sheriff Court. I paused to consider what would make hitherto apparently decent citizens sink low enough to embrace the shadowy world of drugs, a scourge in our communities that should not be underestimated.
Both men refused to identify their contacts or suppliers. Sheriff Ruth Anderson QC thus had no alternative but to impose the custodial sentences and I offer no criticism of her.
Yet I found myself speculating at length as to what would impel these two men to risk their reputations, their families’ wellbeing and security, and the chance of a respectable future.
Was it simple avarice, that base instinct to make what appears to be easy money? Were there debt problems that they thought could be resolved quickly from criminal activity? Was it as prosaic as wanting a bit of extra money to provide family treats?
The only people who know, of course, are the two men. But their criminal activities have not only resulted in their imprisonment, they have blighted the lives of their loved ones.
I feel for the families, who are innocent victims of crime. They are the ones who will suffer and not solely in financial terms. If ever there was a salutary lesson about the consequences of being involved in drugs, it is this one. We can only hope the two men learn from the errors of their ways. And I hope their families endure.
Great response from Oban Times readers
IF EVER there was a good example of the hi-tech world in which we live, it occurred during the early hours of Friday morning last week.
That was when the public responded to an Oban Times message on social media for someone to take pictures of the fire at the Millpark council depot in the town.
Reader Hugh Wilson, from Morvern Hill, captured a striking image of the depot in flames and emailed it in to us, as did photographer Kevin McGlynn.
The resulting story and pictures were rapidly published on our website and drew a huge response from and engagement with our digital audience. Many thanks to Hugh, Kevin and all the others who contributed.
And we all owe a debt of gratitude to the emergency services, especially the firefighters, who put themselves in danger to deal with the emergency.
Get in touch with your thoughts
Do you have something you want to share? Let me know by writing to me at The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB, or by email to email@example.com.