No products in the basket.


Chapter one

Below is the introduction and chapter one of The Bedford Heist. If you want to continue reading, then you can purchase a copy of The Bedford Heist by clicking here.


Lucas A Payne was a well-educated English gentleman who had served six years in the British army fighting the war in Bosnia. After leaving the army he became a prison counsellor and married his wife Haylee who was a schoolteacher. Lucas was tired of seeing all of Britain’s problems ending up in front of him on a daily basis. The prison service couldn’t keep all staff and inmates safe which had been made worse by far too many long serving prison officers leaving the service for good.

Lucas had been happily married and reaching the top of his profession for over 20 years when two life changing events happened. This made him think hard on what he would do for the rest of his life.

One of Lucas strengths was his ability to organise and with a private database of some of the country’s top criminals he was going to make the powers that be sit up and take notice. Lucas had always been neutral when it came to national political parties, and he always voted for the person he felt would do the job to their best ability and not follow a single party. Over the years he had seen good and bad laws passed by both the Labour and the Conservative parties and even when a party had the majority of MPs in parliament, they still didn’t make the serious changes to the way the country was being run. The rich continued to get richer and the poor poorer and important matters such as the NHS, education and protection of the public never gets any better. During the book Lucas picks out several of the continuing problems that face Britain today and hopefully offer a way to resolve many of the problems, so that we can all put the “Great” back in Britain once again.

Chapter 1. About Lucas Payne

I’m glad you are joining me on the journey I’ve arranged for a few friends and people I’ve met during the past twenty years. Let me start by telling you a little about myself, but if you bear with me, I’ll keep details of the heist I’ve arranged until later in the book, but it’s well worth waiting for.

My name is Lucas A Payne, and I’ve been described as a typical English gentleman by most people I have come to know.  I’m 53 years young and have been told by many ladies that I’m quite good-looking and having had free access to a gym for most of my adult life, I have kept myself in good shape.

I grew up in a town called Stony Stratford which is now part of the new city of Milton Keynes. The only thing I can remember about Stony Stratford is the phrase ‘a load of cock and bull’, which is often said if someone is stretching the truth or telling a white lie (the word ‘politician’ springs to mind). The history behind the saying relates to the two public houses (pubs), which were staging posts for the stagecoaches that stopped for a short or overnight stay as this was on the old A5 trunk road (Watling Street) that ran from Canterbury via London, St. Albans and on to Holyhead in north Wales. The route was serviced by various stagecoach companies, with some stopping at the Cock Hotel and others at the Bull Hotel, which is about 200 yards further down the Watling Street. This was long before emails, telephones, radio, and TV, so the news was spread nationwide via these main routes. If a stagecoach stopped at the Cock Hotel with a message that the Queen was unwell with a nasty bout of flu, staff would pass the message on to their friends who worked at the Bull Hotel, but the message would now be that the Queen was dead. Hence the saying, ‘what a load of cock and bull’.

I wouldn’t say I liked school that much. I was always left out of things, ending up playing the cymbal in the so-called school orchestra, and being the last kid to be picked for a team. I think this was down to being the older brother of a “mentally retarded spastic.” That’s the title cruel kids gave him, and their parents weren’t much better. Nobody understood what autism was about, and to have an autistic/spastic brother never did me any favours. It didn’t worry me as I knew my multi-handicapped brother was more substantial and braver than my classmates. If the King had given bravery medals to ordinary people, my brother would be first in line as he fought harder than any man, I knew just to stay alive. As I moved up to senior school, I managed to be free of my brother, and made a few friends, and we had some great times together. The one big thing that bugged me was that my friends had better clothes and went on family holidays and loved to brag about places they had visited and the fun they’d had. I never had any of these luxuries, as going away with an autistic child wasn’t possible. Being severely autistic meant they couldn’t tolerate changes and would self-harm and be very vocal letting everyone know of his displeasure.

In 1982 I left school after obtaining 6 GCSE grades, A* to C, including English and Maths, and 2 A-levels.  I was never particularly good at written coursework, and I’m sure I learnt a lot more since leaving school than I did in the 11 years I spent there. My childhood was anything but typical as most of it was spent being an unpaid carer for my multi-handicapped brother and my extremely sick mother. My father couldn’t cope with my brother being disabled and left when I was six, so I have little respect for him, and few happy childhood memories. Although I loved my disabled sibling with all my heart, I knew the only way I would obtain freedom and a life of my own was to go for a place at university and ensure it wasn’t anywhere close to home.

In the end, I took a place at Nottingham University studying Nursing (Mental Health), and at the end of the three-year course, I ended up with a BSc Hons (Bachelor of Science).  I loved the city of Nottingham, which is based in the middle of England and famous for the legend of Robin Hood, a heroic outlaw in English folklore who, according to legend, was a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Traditionally dressed in Lincoln green, he is often portrayed as “robbing from the rich and giving to the poor” along with his band of Merry Men. Robin Hood became a popular folk figure in the late-medieval period and continues to be widely represented in literature, films, and in television. With 1% of the United Kingdom owning more property and money than the remaining 99%, you could say that we could do with the return of Robin Hood, but this time he would be for real. I did a lot of online research before making the University of Nottingham my first choice. I also visited the city several times and asked several students what they thought about the university and the city itself. They said the Students’ Union offered various societies, organisations, student groups, community projects and campaigns to join. There were scores of activities and events for students at the university: associations, clubs, student-run groups and more. Asking about the nightlife, I was informed by many female students that there are cafes, bars, clubs, art and performance, common rooms, and associations. The social life here, I was told, is vibrant, diverse, and abundant, but it isn’t for everyone. One student said that she didn’t like the nightlife (or the drugs and booze) that many students went for. Still, she did become a volunteer, as the university offers plenty of volunteering opportunities for all students.

I didn’t get involved in the hectic nightlife mainly because I had never been to a nightclub or disco in my life and was a relatively private person. While at university, I saw the results of drinking and drugs, with many students being asked to leave. However, I made a lovely group of friends who were also into volunteering and helping others. A few students did both and only joined the various volunteering bodies so that it would look good on their CVs. There was also plenty to see and do in Nottingham. There was Trent Bridge for cricket lovers, Nottingham Forest for football fans and an ice-Skating rink where Nottingham ice-dancing legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean will live on forever. Towards the end of the second year at university, several career workshops were arranged with many of the country’s top employers attending, trying to tempt students to join once they had achieved their BSc. If I got my BSc, it looked like the world was my oyster, but I needed to think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I could have chosen a career in the NHS, but I didn’t want to work in an environment that I alone couldn’t change, and I would probably need a psychiatrist’s help after banging my head against a brick wall. I had seen and witnessed the nearly non-existent support made available by the cash-starved NHS to anyone (such as my mother) with mental health problems.

Having a multi-handicapped sibling who turned out to be severely autistic meant that childhood memories of donkey rides and building sandcastles on a lovely sandy beach were never possible. I should have hated my brother for everything he prevented me from doing, but I didn’t, but don’t ask me why, as I couldn’t answer. Love is the most potent medicine, yet you can’t get a prescription from the NHS. If any social worker or NHS psychiatrist had asked me what I wanted or even bothered to check up on how I – the primary carer was doing, then perhaps they could have given a bit of love back in the way of respite care for my brother, or even arranged a few activities for all the school children who like me were unpaid carers. If my mum had been given more help at the start, perhaps she wouldn’t have ended up being so depressed and living off various pills daily. I hate to think about the cost of those pills during my mother’s lifetime. I bet it would be far more than the respite care or extra help she didn’t receive.

I had already grasped most of what I would need to achieve a BA at the end of my three years at uni. I could have gone straight into a job in my local community, but the salary didn’t offer that much of a pull, and I decided that a career in the army would suit me better. I passed my entrance exam with flying colours and, after 13 weeks, was posted to a barracks at Catterick Garrison, which is in North Yorkshire, and was the British Army’s largest training establishment in the United Kingdom. Unlike many of my comrades, I soon settled in and didn’t get homesick, probably due to not having many happy memories of my home life. Surprisingly, as soon as I left home, the local social services put into place a care package for my disabled brother as they soon recognised that, without me, the home couldn’t function; it makes you wonder how many other teenage carers there are in the UK that become unpaid carers and, like me, missed out on everyday life.

In my fifth year of service, my battalion and I were sent to Bosnia, the stories I could tell of my time there would fill another book, but I tried to block out what happened as some of it was too terrible to remember. The widespread media coverage of the atrocities by Serbian paramilitary and military forces against Bosnian women and children drew international condemnation of the Serbian troops. Our role was to move in after many conflicts and bring normality back to the region. The worst part for me and many of my comrades was dealing with the devastation of young children being raped and the systematic genocide of their parents just because they were of a different religion. I had only signed up initially for three years but had extended it to six years and was asked if I wanted to develop it further, but I had decided that six years was long enough. The horrors we all witnessed in Bosnia broke many of my comrades, who were discharged on medical grounds.

I had never heard of PTSD before joining the army, but having witnessed post-traumatic stress disorder first-hand, I knew I wanted to use my BSc to help those suffering from it. I contacted the charity MIND about two months before my leaving date and set up an interview with the charity to see if they could use my services. As it turned out, I never did attend the interview.

Within days of my returning home as a hero, my mother told me about a local young man named Geoff Harding, who had also served in Bosnia but had been discharged a year earlier and had PTSD. To cut a long story short, he hadn’t coped well and couldn’t settle back into mainstream life and ended up sleeping on the streets and got in trouble with the law over several issues, including robbery and GBH. My mother told me that the GBH had been the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he had been imprisoned for three years. I contacted the young man’s family for permission to visit him in prison. They felt that it could help him to talk to someone who had witnessed what he had been through. It only took eight days for my visiting permit to arrive, and I went to see him. Seeing Geoffrey’s state shocked me, which nearly brought me to tears. I had seen photos of him at his parents’ home, but he was a fraction of his size when they were taken. I asked him what treatment he was receiving for his PTSD, and he said that he was waiting to see a counsellor, but it was a long wait as they were short-staffed. In the meantime, he had been prescribed some strong anti-depressants, but they didn’t look like they were doing any good whatsoever. One of the most common side effects of anti-depressants was that they suppressed the need to eat, and it looked as if the medication he was on was making matters worse and not better.

On the drive back, I knew then that I would become a prison counsellor and help people like Geoff Harding. When I returned home, I logged on to my laptop and learned how to work for the prison service. As I held a BSc Hons, I could take the National Offender Management Service graduate programme, which, when qualified, paid a lot more than the standard prison officer rate. It involved six weeks of training at the national training centre in Rugby, a lovely market town in Warwickshire, England, and home of the beloved game of Rugby Union. The six-week course taught you how to use handcuffs, and taught primary control, restraint techniques, and how to carry out searches. Most of the first five weeks were spent in the classroom, which became rather dull, but on the sixth week you were shadowing an officer in prison for your first posting. You would then take on the role yourself. During the next eighteen months, I gained more experience and responsibility and progressed from prison officer to supervisor officer level – the first step on the ladder. After a further eighteen months, I was sent to another prison to take up the role of custodial manager, with a group of staff to manage. After a few months, they decided that I could handle the middle-management governor-grade role as an operational manager. After a rapid 30 months of my life, I was now qualified and could take on more training in my chosen field to reduce re-offending. I could have taken on more management roles, but this would involve moving around the country, but I wanted to stay close enough to keep an eye on what was happening to my brother and mother. The HM Prison Service – runs 110 of the 123 prisons in England and Wales, with the others being privately managed. As I didn’t want to be posted anywhere in the UK, I opted to apply at my chosen prison to take on the role of a Prison Counsellor. The big drawback was that you can’t be a prison counsellor, and a prison officer as a counsellor should seem to be neutral to the prisoner and not be part of the “system”. By luck, my chosen place of work was a male-only prison that catered for category B & C inmates. As the role of prison counsellor was still being defined during my early years, I found myself a guinea pig developing a way forward. Thankfully, I had a great governor in Jack Smithers, who thought it a good idea, and anything that helped to stop prisoners from requesting a meeting with the governor was okay in his book. I soon realised that delivering counselling in prisons was highly challenging for me, both ethically and personally.

Daily, I had the environment to wrestle with diverse and complex issues, including security, confidentiality and, perhaps most significantly of all, how to develop a therapeutic relationship to promote psychological growth in an environment that mitigates against such processes. Things may be complicated further by prisoners’ unique backgrounds and the offence. For example, a counsellor may work with an offender who was sexually abused but sentenced to custodial care for attacking his perpetrator. One of the biggest problems I faced involved confidentiality. For example, an inmate may tell a therapist he wishes to escape; what does the therapist do with this information? Or, in the case of record-keeping, who keeps the records? Where should they be saved? Whom can they be shared with? This requires agreement with the counselee on what can and cannot be shared. Ultimately, I agreed with the Governor to do what I thought was best and knock on his door if I needed help. As my workload expanded with all the caps I wore, I kept a copy of all files on my computer at home. This enabled me to check on where I was with certain inmates so that I would have meetings planned for the next day. This one decision would prove extremely helpful later.

Like what you are reading? Click here to buy.