HE came from one of the roughest families in the north. “World in Action actually featured us in a documentary. My mum had 13 kids to 12 different fathers and there’s only me and one other brother who have done good. The rest have just had kids, increased the population and sponged off the state,” he would say.
This story was trotted out on a regular basis. He moved around the country, eventually ending up in Devon, where he set up his own business.
“I pushed lawnmowers up and down the streets, asking people if they wanted their grass cutting and now I have my own gardening business and employ five people, all of who, like me, were down on their luck and deserve a chance in life.”
He always helped people out who had fallen on hard times and at one point I was one of those.
He lived in a nice big three-storey house near the sea, had a lovely flat too, joined the Conservative Party and was elected as a councillor, eventually becoming mayor, his picture regularly in the papers.
He even joined a certain secret organisation and was elected to the top position.
When same sex marriages because legal in 2014, he and his partner tied the knot on day one. I was there. It was a great day.
To me, it seemed he had everything. He did, and if there were any dark thoughts of possible matters arising they were well and truly at the back of his mind.
I hadn’t seen him for a while, though his partner, who I used to work with, kept in touch by email and at Christmas, sent his annual festive poem.
Then, one day late last year, I clicked on an article, my interest stirred by the headline, which implied some wrongdoing on the part of an un-named high-ranking citizen.
The shock on seeing his picture by the article caused confusion. What do I do? Did he do it? Why put yourself in the public eye if there is even the slightest chance of your past coming back to haunt you? Do I ring him or his partner? Write to them? Send a text?
I opted for the latter option, not through it being the easier route but because it seemed less intrusive than calling or even turning up — they have closer friends plus family who they would perhaps rather confide in.
I was pleased to receive a reply saying they felt positive, giving thanks for the support and reporting that his gardening clients had all remained loyal.
What thoughts must he have turned over in his mind over the past eight months or so? And his partner?
Life had been so good, a great future to look forward to, and maybe it would remain that way. Then again it could all come crashing down.
Last week he was found guilty of historical sexual offences against two boys, accusations he said he was shocked by. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
I don’t know whether or not he committed those crimes, but the justice system has concluded that he did so he must serve the appropriate sentence.
I am still in some degree of shock so Lord knows how the victims, he and his partner, their families and friends must feel.
It shows that however high you climb, there is always the possibility of a fall and the further up you go the more it hurts when you tumble.