Teresa hadn’t been in court to hear the verdict, so the worst thing was I had to tell her. I hadn’t expected anything like ten years. The lawyer had reassured me it was a weak case. I found out about his lack of qualifications too late, and at first I didn’t know where to turn.
My husband developed cancer in 2000 and died in 2001. I’m not saying Teresa’s incarceration did it, but he was a private man who kept everything inside, and I don’t think he coped well with the thought of his little girl being locked up. How do you comprehend the thought of your child suffering in a Spanish prison? Even now Teresa still doesn’t talk to me directly about it.
I remember the first time I spoke to Prisoners Abroad: the person was really kind and caring. It was wonderful to know that Teresa had support. I went to a Prisoners Abroad family day, where they had invited other people who had loved ones in prison, and realised that I wasn’t on my own in this situation.
I was fortunate enough to have the money to go out to Spain to see her. Prisoners Abroad helped me so much with the visits. Because I couldn’t speak Spanish, it was wonderful when Laura, one of their caseworkers, told me that she could book the visits for me. That was a real lifeline. I mean, I lived for those visits.
But those visits were tough. We left home at 4am. We’d get to Luton airport and we had to catch the plane at 7 o’clock. We got to Madrid at 10am, and then had to get across Madrid to catch the 11 o’clock coach to Salamanca which took 2 ¾ hours. We had to get to the prison for 4 o’clock. So it was 12 hours from leaving home to seeing Teresa.
It’s not only me who was affected. My other daughter suffered dreadfully. She put off her wedding for a long time in the hope Teresa might be released and be there. But in the end, she got married and Teresa wasn’t there. I felt so alone in that church because I knew that there was someone missing: my daughter should have been there with us. It was the times when the family were all together that were often the most difficult, because you know you’re missing someone who is supposed to be there.
But every day, I woke up and asked God to please let it be today that Teresa is released, and thankfully one day it was. But you don’t live, you survive. It’s like waiting for somebody to die; it’s actually as bad as that at times. I was lucky, I had support from everybody, everybody who knew her and knew us. And support from Prisoners Abroad. Whenever people asked, I’ve never been ashamed to tell them I had a child in prison.
What I want to get across to people is if anybody tries to get you to transport drugs and says it won’t hurt you, it won’t cost you anything, think again because it does. It will not only cost you, it will cost your family.
It’s lovely to have her home. She’s turned the house upside down again, but at least it’s a home now whereas my partner and I used to just rattle around. I’m a lot happier. Sometimes we still argue a bit, but that’s normal everyday life. This whole experience has made us incredibly close.