Maybe it's because I'm the ma of two lads the same sort of age but I can't help feeling a pang of sympathy for tuition fees protestor Edward Woollard and his mum. Yes, I know what he did was highly dangerous, thoughtless and stupid but come on, two and a half years in prison? He deserves to be punished, that's true, but I do think he's been made an example of. Probably because it's highly unlikely that the police will ever catch any of the ringleaders - the rent-a-mob who will 'protest' against anything and just want to cause chaos.
I've been at gigs where you totally feel at one with the band, the music and everyone around you so I can understand how people can get carried away and do things totally out of character, and maybe that's what happened with this boy. A moment of madness. But the person I really feel for is his mum, who thought she was doing the right thing by making him hand himself in. She looked absolutely shell-shocked as she left the court house. Whatever she and the rest of his family were expecting I can't believe it was that he'd get a 32 month sentence. I don't believe any credit was given for his guilty plea, his age or his previous good behaviour. It just seems wrong to me, that he's been made a scapegoat. I would hope that there might be an appeal against the length of his sentence.
I think I know what kind of person Edward Woollard is. I taught at all-boys secondary school. It wasn't a good experience. A lot of the boys were total gurriers - obnoxious, uncouth, violent, the kind of boys you would expect to read about in the local paper's Court File once they left school. Well, I have read in the paper about two ex-students who ended up in prison - one for a motoring offence where someone was killed; one for an arms and drugs offence. I was shocked to the core that these two boys had ended up in trouble. They were both quiet, polite, good-natured boys who didn't give any trouble. Both were on the periphery of the 'bad lads' gangs....I guess both wanted to be 'gangsta'. They were easily led, weak-willed and silly. I think that's what Edward Woollard is like.
Heaven knows it's hard to bring kids up nowadays, teaching them right from wrong, trying to lead by example. I commend Tania Garwood, his mum, for encouraging Edward to hand himself in to the police. But you have to wonder how she feels about that tonight.
What would YOU do?