Monday, May 29, 2006

Some Kind of Obituary

I first met David Schofield when I joined the senior choir at high school. He was in the year above me and my peer group, but he didn’t get on with any of his classmates so took to hanging out with us. For a while we were quite close friends – in fact he was the first person I ever told I was gay. Actually I didn’t so much tell him, as he asked me and, probably as much to my surprise as his, I answered in the affirmative.

I don’t recall him joining the sixth form, so we probably started going our separate ways in the run up to me going to university in ‘87. He visited me in Dundee while I was repping for Saga in the summer of 1993 and I recall having dinner with him and his partner a year or two later, although I can’t remember where or why.

Strangely it wasn’t a big shock when I heard he was in prison on some kind of paedophilia charge; as our group had gotten older, Dave’s friends hadn’t and he was usually hanging out with boys in their mid-teens. This was quite the scandal of our middle-class suburban set although, in that terribly British way of ours, it wasn’t really mentioned if it could be avoided.

When he reappeared after his sentence was complete, I couldn’t ostracise him the way that some people did. I didn’t doubt the verdict, but I still felt compassion for him. No matter what crimes had been committed, there was still an isolated human being there and I suppose I have always felt an urge to support people in trouble.

Anyway, we spoke infrequently over the succeeding years; essentially only exchanging change-of-address correspondence. So it was with a certain curiosity that I received a text message from someone called ‘Pete’ today, mentioning news about Dave. After exchanging a couple of messages it emerged that Pete was one of Dave’s ex-boyfriends – he may even have been the one I had dinner with, but I don’t think so. The messages were somewhat ambiguous and for a while I wondered if it was some bizarre ex-boyfriend revenge ploy, so in the end I called Pete and spoke to him and got the news that Dave had hanged himself in his cell on Friday.

I don’t know why he was back in prison, or any details of why he may have committed suicide – it was a painfully awkward conversation as it was – but from the way Pete phrased it I assumed he was At Her Majesty’s Pleasure for the same reason as the first time. When I knew him well Dave didn’t seem to have a suicidal or depressive personality, so I wonder what lead him down that path. The possible answers to that question seemed even sadder than the news of his death. I likely will never know for sure.

I don’t know enough about the subject of paedophilia to say whether it emerges because of ‘nature or nurture’, so I don’t know whether I need a priest or a psychologist to explain the ‘why’ of Dave’s death. I do know that I hope he is at peace now and that, if there is a god, he is a forgiving one.

2 comments:

Chris said...

David was serving three months for possession of an indecent image of a child.

He was released under license (probebly after 1/2 served) and would have had certain conditions placed upon him to secure the safety of the public.

He did not comply with these and was returned to Preston Jail at which he hung himself at some time around 18:20 hrs and declared dead 25 minutes later.

I have very mixed feelings about these events as a member of society, magistrate and father.

Liam said...

Thanks for the info Chris. Yes, it’s a pile of conflicting thoughts; someone I know committing suicide is a horrible thing and I can’t help thinking, ‘could I have done something?’ at some point in the past that might have changed the course of his life. Then at the same time messing with children is just wrong. Children are children; they’re not sexual.

Happy endings, where everything finally makes sense and is neatly finished off, only happen in fiction. Real life is another story altogether.