Six Month Nightmare
Gemma Quinn / 2005-07-04 13:59:36
After six months in a prison cell in Alicante Steve Adams has finally been released on bail but the nightmare is nowhere near over as he still awaits news of whether he will be charged with trafficking drugs.
Our front page story in edition 41 titled 'In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time' sent shockwaves throughout the region as people read about how Steve had been caught up in a drugs raid by the Guardia Civil on two warehouses that he had been visiting to collect goods. The 'man with a van' was arrested at a warehouse in Almoradí when he arrived to collect goods for a company he regularly worked for. Drugs were also found in a container at a warehouse in Alicante where Steve had been just weeks prior but he has always protested his innocence saying it was just chance, and ultimately bad luck, that he was at both having job documents and information to prove why he was in Almoradí and what he was there to collect.
Speaking exclusively to the 'Leader' from the home he shares with wife Helen and their two youngest sons, he says he had no idea when he left home that morning last December what events would follow or that it would be 6 months to the day till he next got to go home and he admits it took a while for the severity of the situation to sink in. "It was all like a dream really and to be honest I was up and down for the first few months and I realised I could be here for the duration and that I was never going to get out." At one point he was told that he could be in jail for two years while the case was investigated, "I tried to get my head round the fact that I could have been in there two years and was imaging the worst so anything else was a bonus. It was the not knowing that was the worst part, that messes your head up; no one would tell you anything."
He continued to give an insight into the squalor and routine in Fontcalent prison that was home for half a year, "The conditions were pretty bad, I was in a cell with two others and I believe that European directives say people on remand should been in a single or double cell. We had a wash basin and toilet and it was really quite a small space for three people. Officers would come round at 7.45am to wake you up and we had 45 minutes to get ready before breakfast. After that time was your own until lunch so you could go out on the patio or sit in the library or lounge area." The day continued after lunch with prisoners being sent back to their cell from 1.30 until 5pm. They then had two hours for their evening meal before lock up at 7.30pm. He said the food was unbearable, "I wouldn't feed our cat the stuff they were serving, in the downstairs communal toilets there were no washbasins so there was excrement smeared up the walls. There was no air in the summer or heating in the winter in the cells."
Steve spent his time in the library writing letters to his family and researching his case and European laws, writing to the European Courts stating how the prison was breaking his human rights. It is an avenue he is continuing to pursue to highlight the injustice being done. Helen says, "So many people are in there that shouldn't be and we are continuing to fight on their behalf to get European recognition as to how the Spanish deal with these cases."
After coming down from cloud nine since being released, he is settling back into family life and enjoying a full range of his favourite home cooked meals and is building himself up again, but the couple are still angry and bitter at the situation, and rightly so. Steve has at no point been charged and it could be up to 24 months before he is charged with a drug related crime while police investigations are carried out. He hopes that one day it will come to the point when they have to admit there is no evidence against him but in the meantime his life is still on hold. "I have to report to the police on the 1st and 15th of every month and they still have my van so I can't work. We are still a family and they are denying my right to work." The business he took a year building up is no longer, police have kept his mobile sim card so all of his contacts and customers are lost. Even if the case was dropped and Steve's named cleared tomorrow, the financial loss the family has incurred is scarily high. Steve's father has helped them by paying off the mortgage allowing them to stay in their home and has paid thousands of euros in legal fees with solicitors demanding more. "I'm still being treated like a criminal and I shouldn't have been in this situation in the first place."
With Steve being refused bail in the first instance because the judge said he 'thinks' he knew about the drugs the couple will do all they can to get the laws changed to help the men already in prison and to prevent others from suffering as they have. "The British Consulate says Spain doesn't do anything different from the rest of Europe but they do not use it responsibility, they lock you up and then investigate you." An angry Helen continues, "People come here and are too afraid to upset the Spanish because we are living in their country and have to abide by their rules which is ok to a certain extent, but when your partner is taken away you have to do something to be heard. The European community needs to stand up and say Spain is wrong and it must abide by the EU, we all moved here thinking we were part of Europe and were protected by European laws."
The family have no choice but to remain in Spain while Steve is on bail but they admit they would leave tomorrow. The last six months is permanently etched in their mind and is unlikely to ever leave but they are determined to continue as best they can with family life and continue to fight to get things changed.
Steve also wished to add that he thanked the 'Leader' for previous articles highlighting the issues and says it makes a difference for the men that are currently in Fontcalent.