Around eleven years ago now, I met two people who really challenged my cynical view of human nature. I was working in a prison in Surrey at the time, and came across two women who had been caught bringing a large amount of drugs into the country via Gatwick Airport. They were very young, in their early twenties, and had up until that time lived ordinary lives in the Netherlands. Seemingly they had been taken on holiday by their new boyfriends, who had arranged ‘new luggage’ for them before they went on ahead from Brazil to London for a few days site seeing and shopping.
The inevitable happened. Never underestimate the significance of question at check in, “have you packed your bag yourself.”
The women were in prison for just under a year, until they went to trial. They found the experience of being in prison devastating. One of them had a young child back at home.
I arrived at work one day to find them outside the prison, waiting to collect their belongings, they were ecstatic.
They were innocent, and authorities in several countries had worked together to identity those responsible in several very sophisticated operations. The case against the women was dismissed in its entirety.
Sometimes it’s easy to assume somebody is guilty before they have had chance to prove their innocence, as this story shows. Meaningless phrases such as, ‘There’s no smoke without fire’ and ‘I told you so’ are unhelpful, and plainly not a Christian response to other people’s pain and misfortune.