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Real-life stories: Perpetrating violence or crime

A Life Of Extreme Violence, Burglary, Drinking And Drug Taking



Brian Sinclair became a Christian in Dartmoor prison in 1986. Released a year later, he returned home to find no support or follow-up, only the same old temptations. But God had given him a vision to help prisoners and their families. Since then, his story has taken a surprising twist.

Brian did not have an easy childhood. The youngest of six children, being naughty was his way of gaining attention. His father was often drunk and Brian’s school only offered hard punishments for this high-spirited child.

Brian soon got into trouble, mixing with the ‘wrong crowd’ and though he was sent to Sunday School, he became adept at finding ways of bunking off. Petty theft led him to a three month spell in a detention centre. When he came out he was more rebellious than ever.

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On leaving home, he too began to drink in excess. Fights were commonplace – once he was ‘bottled in the mouth’, lost three pints of blood and received 25 stitches to his face.

Brian was seeking happiness but looking in all the wrong places. His personal relationships failed. His violence, drinking and drug taking escalated. He spent time in Winchester prison for burglary followed by a spell in Exeter Prison’s hospital wing on remand for another offence. At night he lay in bed, obsessed with the thought of drugs, unable to sleep for the screaming and shouting.

After serving a year in Exeter, he went straight back to the drug scene. Four months later, he was on a charge for attempted murder – later dropped to grievous bodily harm when the victim recovered. Dartmoor Prison awaited him. Brian felt he had landed in hell.

He linked up with a fellow prisoner who owed him money. To Brian’s surprise, the guy told Brian, ‘you need to come to church’. Brian laughed his head off – ‘you must be joking’ was his response. But his ‘friend’ was persistent, calling at Brian’s cell door whenever there was a service to attend in the prison chapel.

A friendship grew between the two men, and Brian eventually went along. He immediately noticed that those taking the service seemed different -‘happy’. He thought, ‘I should be up there with those happy people’. Though other prisoners were sceptical about his motives, Brian became a regular at the chapel service.

Deep down he knew he could not control his life – only the love of Jesus Christ could bring about the change he desired. Then his friend issued another challenge. ‘Do you really want to hand your whole life over to Jesus?’ Brian’s response was ‘yes’. His friend led him in the ‘sinner’s prayer’ (see Gospel of John page 4). Just as Brian said ‘amen’, the most wonderful thing happened. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and felt tingling sensations as if his hair was standing on end. Back in his cell, he had a vision of being lifted out of a greenhouse but looking back at those prisoners left behind. He felt the need to return to help them. ‘This might sound crazy to some, but that is what I truly felt that night,’ Brian recalls.

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( Brian Sinclair and The Door UK charity which he founded, were able to help this former UK prisoner on his return to Jamaica.)

When he had arrived at Dartmoor, Brian had thought ‘this is the end for me – if only I could find a rope ladder’. It was in church that he found his means of escape - a ‘ladder’ that lifted him from sadness to joy. God changed Brian’s attitude to life though this didn’t happen overnight. It was all too easy to keep bad company once he was released. Brian found himself once more in a violent situation which led to another court appearance. But this time, he faced the consequences with the support of Christians from the church he was attending.

Three months later he was free again and moved far away from the temptations of his former life. There he met his future wife, Amanda and made a new start. Supported by their local church, the couple set up the charity The Door UK in 1994. Their aim is to show Christian love by practical help for prisoners and their families both in prison and on their release.

Brian and Amanda now have four children and three grandchildren. The Door UK continues to support anyone who is in prison. Most of their contacts are British men/women, Jamaican men/women and African men/women who are in prison in the UK.

Brian Sinclair

Story and pictures by courtesy of Challenge Newsline

The Door UK is a Christian organisation that works to support families, especially children and close relatives to stay in contact with their loved ones in prison. They have workers based in Jamaica and across the UK and volunteers who write to and visit men and women who are in prison.

They also work with British women in Fort Augusta Prison, Jamaica. The Door UK will help and support families that come from abroad by way of escorting them to and from the prison.

They also take families to any prison in the country, if they have a local volunteer in the area. For more information contact:

The Door UK Contact:

02380230950 helpline

02380230950 (fax)

thedooruk@btconnect.com


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