‘It had been a tough shift for Police Sergeant Jill Evans and back home she tries to relax but the telephone disrupts her peaceful mood.
“Go to a phone box, call this number and ask for Debbie. Do not reply to this.”……….
” My hands were shaking as I pressed the 20p into the slot, punched the silver buttons and placed the grubby black receiver to my ear.
Two rings and it was picked up.” Debbie, its Jill. What the bloody hell is going on?”….” Jill. STOP! Dean has been involved in an incident with the police and they shot at them.”
I was a Police officer within the Dyfed Powys Force in Wales, having had a successful 18 year career working in various departments such a law training, CID, Child protection and Special Branch at the ferry ports.
I had received a commendation for bravery, saving a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge and my work nationally recognised in the press being involved in the recovery of a large amount of drugs at the Port. I loved my job and prided myself on my sense of fairness and compassion to those who needed my help, with plans for promotion beyond my rank of Sergeant, It felt tough as a woman, always having to work that extra bit harder to prove your effectiveness and it was most definitely a ‘man’s world’ despite the slow adoption by the organisation of equality.
The Police Service is not an easy job but my goal was to always strike a balance between upholding the law and protecting the welfare of victims, doing my part to make sure fair justice was obtained.
My personal life had been less successful. I always seemed to be searching for something that was, unbeknown to me, ‘missing’ from my life.
It would not be until I reached 50 years of age that I would realise what that ‘something’ was.
In the meantime, having recovered from the heartache and devastation of two disastrous marriages both to Police officers, from which I had two daughters, February 2006 saw me begin a new relationship. A fresh start.
I met my new partner via online dating, which I figured to be a far better and safer means of meeting Mr Right. Life with Dean, a successful businessman could not have been better. He lived in London and we planned a life and future together at my home in Wales.
Everything seemed perfect.
Until that fateful Halloween night in 2006 when, at 3 months pregnant, he didn’t call me as promised. Silence continued throughout the next day with no calls or explanation until that evening, at around 7pm when I was instructed to go to a phone box to make that call that would change my life forever.
Dean, his father and another gang member had been arrested at the scene of an armed robbery at a building society in Kent. The fourth gang member had been shot dead by Police.
I was left alone, pregnant with two young daughters, my partner in custody and my career thrown into chaos.
I was swiftly cleared of any involvement or knowledge into my partner’s crimes by Kent Police but an internal investigation by my own Force Professional Standards department followed into my perceived honesty and integrity. They felt I should have known what he was up to.
I was ostracised by members of the job, ridiculed by the National newspapers and male senior officers and unsupported by senior management. Coincidentally all male. Some officers would cross the road to avoid me. I was a “silly woman who should have known better.” At one stage management suggested I would be better off terminating my pregnancy for the sake of my career. Welfare visits were non-existent and when one did occur it was suggested I simply go and ask the doctor for what they termed as “happy pills.” After a year I was suspended from duty.
I undertook counselling offered by the Force only to terminate it after a few sessions as the Professional standards department tried to access my confidential records via my councillor regarding what had been discussed.
I felt utterly abandoned and believed they wanted to destroy me and there was no empathy for my predicament as a woman or a human being.
After two years of continued intense pressure my case resulted in an internal disciplinary hearing where senior officer’s statements highlighted major flaws in their evidence.
One of my charges was my alleged failure to cooperate with Kent Police which was supported by a senior officer statement;
“The Kent officers attempted to ask questions from the prepared list but it was not a particularly productive meeting. Jill was very defensive. I do not think the officers managed to get through all the questions and no statement was obtained from Jill.
I considered the conduct of the Kent officers was professional throughout the meeting. At no time would I describe their conduct as bullying or overbearing.”
My barrister questioned this;
“You weren’t at the meeting though were you?”
“Yes I was.”
“No you were not.”
“In my mind I was there.”
“What do you mean in your mind?”
“Well I brokered the meeting. In my mind I was there throughout the meeting but I wasn’t really.”
Regardless of this kind of evidence I was found guilty of all charges and required to resign.
I lost everything that day.
My career, my personal life and a fractured relationship with my parents and two daughters through the long two years of investigation;
“It’s a terrible thing to admit to yourself that you cannot trust your very own. My own flesh and blood were like cuckoo fledglings pushing me from the family nest and seemingly relishing the pain it caused me. It seemed so ridiculous that to acknowledge what was going on made me feel like I was losing my sanity.”
I stuck by Dean for five long years. I made long journeys across the country to visit in prison. Not my world or my life. But there I found myself. Life was simply grey and a blur. I went through the motions.
On a daily basis I did not know how I would get through the next hour and every door was closed in my face. New job offers, all withdrawn at the reference stage. Eventually I got myself two part time jobs in retail , both daytime and evening to make ends meet.
I recall one winter visit to prison, for me a return 5 hour journey.
“My plan was to go straight to some tanning appointments on my way home. I was tired, used to working all hours between both jobs and wore my pink work beauty tunic to the visit to enable me to do so. It was a wedding booking and too much cash to turn down.
As Dean entered the visit room I stood up and smiled but his reciprocal grin suddenly changed to a frown. His dark eyes looked full of fury. He sat down and leaned in to give me a kiss but instead, in a low monotone voice, whispered in my ear ‘How dare you wear work uniform to visit me.’
‘Next time, don’t bother coming here if you are dressed like that.
What is wrong with you? Everyone else’s Mrs has made a bleedin’ effort and then there is you.”
Recovery was slow but progressive. It took around 10 years.
I had no self-worth, branded as “stupid” and of course I had brought my situation upon myself. After an eventual breakdown and counselling I realised that what had happened to me was the result of trying to find the love and belonging I felt I had lacked as child. I was fortunate to have a very good upbringing but I felt the one thing I lacked was the outward gift of love from my parents which I felt had been reserved in the main for my older sibling. My failed attempts at trying to find that love I so craved had resulted in my jumping into relationships, desperate to find it and a sense of belonging. I only ever found more heartache.
It was not until I could acknowledge and understand why I took those actions and why, as a result, my life flowed in the direction it did that I could start to make slow changes.
I grew stronger, hope began to return and I took small steps to rebuild my life. I built myself a new career in the form of my own property business, met and married the man I truly loved and eventually, but only when I felt ready, decided to write my life story in my autobiography.
My journey has elements that I am so sure other people can empathise with and when read will provide maybe just one or two people, with the hope that things can and will change even when the outlook appears impossible.
“2020 would have been my 30th year of service to an organisation that betrayed me when I was at my lowest ebb. I never lied. My only crime was seeking love and to be deceived by a man I thought I knew. Except he was a bank robber and I was Sergeant Jill Evans, number 827 of the Dyfed Powys Police.”
The injustice that still remains in the modern world we live in today still leaves me speechless. Good people have to fight for the justice they deserve and that should not be a battle.
There are still those that brand women, indeed all victims as ‘weak’ and orchestrators of their own situation. There is still a huge void in empathy, understanding and lip service paid to policies and procedures that should be fully embraced and as a result too many lives are devastated and let down by systems that are supposed to be fair and protect the truth.
It is only by keeping an inner faith within yourself and having the courage to speak out that changes can be made. Those changes won’t be big and they won’t be swift but they will happen if enough people have the strength and the courage to fight for it.
For years the Police service branded me as lacking honesty and integrity, a title that did not rest well with me. I decided to take a giant step and correct that and the result was a book that takes the reader on a journey through my life and one that will maybe give hope to others in whatever traumaUc situation life has dealt them.
Jill Owens, Author.
Two Cops and a Robber published by ForUs Publishing and available on Amazon.