Mum went to prison five times for drug-related offences

Mother jailed five times for drug offences recalls her son being strip-searched for drugs in prison aged FIVE – and says it was ‘heart-wrenching’ to see him follow in her footsteps before turning his life around

  • Jo, from Wales, went to prison at 24 for supplying drugs when son Liam was five
  • He was strip-searched in prison when she was sentenced to 30 months in jail
  • Lesley, mother to Jamie – and also Oscar – battled abusive relationships, drug and mental health issues and extreme poverty while bringing up her three sons
  • Lesley has learnt to manage her illnesses better and has seen both her sons through to becoming the fulfilled young men they are today
  • Natalie’s son Renardo developed anger problems, was sent to prison at 17, and soon after lost two friends to knife crime

A mother who became a crack and heroine addict and went to prison five times for drug-related offences has told how she had to witness her son follow the same path and end up in prison. 

Three mothers of ex-offenders have spoken to crime prevention charity Key4Life and revealed how they have all overcome huge life challenges, and seen their sons grow through adversity and become exemplary role models making a positive contribution to society. 

Jo, from Wales, who raised two sons on her own in poverty following an abusive relationship, claimed: ‘When Liam was born I was in quite a stable place. I was young. I was 17 when I got pregnant with him, and 18 when he was born. 

‘It was quite stable – using sociable drugs – LSD, pills and what not. But it progressed with his father and it was a place I didn’t want to go.

Jo (pictured, left), from Wales, ended up going to prison aged 24 for supplying drugs when Liam was just five, and he was strip-searched in the prison when she was arrested. Jo was sentenced to prison for 30 months

Jo went to prison five times for drug-related offences and had to witness her son Liam (pictured) follow the same path and end up in prison

Jo explained that she thought she was being a good mum, but said that was obviously blinkered through the drugs. Pictured, with a young Liam

‘He was using more often and everything so I separated from him when Liam was two and moved to Telford. 

‘Being a naive Valley girl, I soon got in with the wrong crowd again and having escaped these so-called soft party drugs, I got into heroine and crack-cocaine.’

‘From that time then, is when Liam’s life took a really bad time. Obviously, I thought I was doing the best for them. I thought I was being a good mum – still providing food on the table and putting clothes on their backs. But obviously that’s blinkered through the drugs.’

Jo explained how she ended up going to prison when Liam was five-years-old for supplying. 

‘That was Liam’s first experience with law because when I got caught in that jail he was five-years-old and also had to be strip searched and checked for drugs,’ she said.

‘I was sent to prison. My first sentence I was 24 and that was for 30 months. It was heartbreaking. Before that, despite my drug use, I’d never been a day apart from them. They were the only constant in life at the time. 

‘Having to squeeze a month’s worth of parenting, mothering, loving, care into like an hour or two hours, it’s just never enough is it. You want longer. You want to be with them permanently.  


Jo explained how she ended up going to prison when Liam was five-years-old for supplying. Pictured together, left and right

Jo told how when Liam (pictured, as a baby) was born she was in quite a stable place. Pictured, Jo was 18 when her son was born

Three remarkable mothers of ex-offenders have revealed how they have all overcome huge life challenges, and seen their sons grow through adversity and become exemplary role models making a positive contribution to society

Jamie (pictured) suffered drug and mental health problems in his teens, and having developed lifelong disabilities herself, Lesley was unable to cope and moved him into a hostel

All in all there was about six prison sentences – none of them as strong as the first, they were for shoplifting and those sorts of crimes. I chose to go to rehab in 2000.’ 

She went on to say that Liam was in his last year of junior school when she realised it wasn’t the way forward – and that she didn’t want to bring him ’embarrassment or shame.’ 

Jo then had to witness her son Liam follow the same path, ending up in prison. 

‘It was heartwrenching,’ she recalled. ‘I felt as though someone had reached in and ripped out my heart.’

Having been through rehab and getting clean, Jo now has six children. 

‘Life is amazing with the support of Liam,’ she said. ‘He is the biggest positive influence in our lives. He is great. He comes with this smile and words of wisdom. He lifts us all up, keeps us all sane. It’s just brilliant, really good.’

The three mothers of ex-offenders revealed how they have all overcome huge life challenges. Pictured, left to right: Lesley, Jo and Natalie

Lesley (pictured left and Natalie, right), mother to Jamie – and also Oscar who recently did the Key4Life programme – battled abusive relationships, drug and mental health issues and extreme poverty while bringing up her three sons, including one with autism

Since completing the Key4Life programme, Liam’s life has transformed unrecognisably and he has wowed millions on national radio and television with his remarkable tale of redemption.

‘Be present in their lives and be involved,’ Jo advised other mothers bringing up children at risk of offending. 

‘Question them, talk to them. And you can’t do it on your own, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help.’

Elsewhere, Lesley, mother to Jamie – and also Oscar who recently did the Key4Life programme – battled abusive relationships, drug and mental health issues and extreme poverty while bringing up her three sons, including one with autism.  

Since completing the Key4Life programme, Renardo has become a successful rap artist known as Creepa

Jamie suffered drug and mental health problems in his teens, and having developed lifelong disabilities herself, Lesley was unable to cope and moved him into a hostel. 

Yet she learnt to manage her illnesses better, and has survived it all, seeing both her sons through to becoming the fulfilled young men they are today. 

Speaking of life with a previous partner, Lesley explained: ‘We were just friends for 14 years and then I got into a relationship with him after an abusive marriage. I got pregnant about six months later and he started visiting old friends. 

Being really naive I didn’t really understand why they’d go to the toilet to do their amphetamines together rather than do it openly – not realising they were in there sharing needles.’

‘I was getting exposed to more and more dangerous places and people and I didn’t understand that it was as dangerous as it was. Jamie was born and we actually lived in a caravan on a farm with no electricity or water. It was all nice when it was like that.’

She claimed: ‘But then the reality of when we moved into a house. Jamie was really young, and his dad stopped working and started taking drugs constantly – to the point I was sitting there watching him kill himself.’

‘He was injecting drugs and then just shivering in a chair in front of our son. He would just take more to go to sleep eventually. 

‘I started taking amphetamine to sort of be at the same place as him. I got dragged into it so I wasn’t going to bed when he was getting up. 

Jo, Lesley and Natalie’s (pictured) children have all gone on to have fantastic jobs and to give back to others who have walked their path

Then it got so bad I realised I couldn’t let this happen. I told him he had to stop it or go. He chose to go. I kept having him in and out of our lives. 

‘Then another man came into our lives and again, it was abusive. It had a knock on effect on me and the boys again and everything started to go downhill.’

Lesley added: ‘What I have learnt through it all is that you have to make yourself emotionally available and really listen.’

Elsewhere, Natalie also brought up three children as a single parent. Renardo grew up an exceptional football player, playing for Wolves and West Brom youth teams. 

Natalie (pictured, right, and Lesley, left) brought up three children as a single parent. Renardo grew up an exceptional football player, playing for Wolves and West Brom youth teams. Yet developing anger problems, he was sent to prison at 17, and soon after lost two friends to knife crime

Yet developing anger problems, he was sent to prison at 17, and soon after lost two friends to knife crime. 

Since completing the Key4Life programme, Renardo has become a successful rap artist known as Creepa, and as a case worker runs Key4Life’s music workshops, teaching young men the power of lyrics for transmitting a positive message.

‘My message to other mothers is that you have to listen, talk and observe,’ Natalie advised. ‘Try to notice any change in behaviour patterns.’

Eva Hamilton MBE, Founder of Key4Life commented: ‘Key4Life rehabilitates ex-offenders and those at risk of offending turning around the lives of some of the most disaffected young men in Britain. 

Many of these men go on to get fantastic jobs and to give back to others who have walked their path, as Key Mentors, including Liam, Jamie and Renardo (as a case worker), who are all shining examples of what the programme can achieve. 

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