A two-year-old boy hugs his father’s T-shirt every night while waiting for him to be released from jail.
35-year-old Kevin Hutchinson was sentenced to six years in custody after he took part in a robbery of a taxi driver last year, leaving his son Riley to live without him.
Hutchinson’s girlfriend Emma Fox, 35, said he has already ‘missed out on so much’ with the toddler.
After the incident, the father was held on remand and faces another three years at HMP Highpoint in Suffolk before he is eligible for parole.
Speaking to the Mirror, Emma from Billericay said: “It isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, but when you sit here and think three years your partner and my son without his dad is a long time.
“When Kevin left on that day, (Riley) wasn’t even walking and now he’s walking, eating solid food, he’s laughing and starting to say his first words – he’s missed all of that.”
Lockdown restrictions also prevented Emma and little Riley from visiting Hutchinson in jail. She now worries that the father and son’s close relationship may be broken.
“Taking him to see his dad for the first time is going to be really hard. I don’t know if he’s going to want to go to him or acknowledge him,” Emma continued.
Hutchinson has a phone in his cell and calls multiple times a day.
“When the phone rings, he does go ‘Dad-Dad’. And we’ve got pictures around the house, next to the bed, and we’ve got the T-shirt of his and he cuddles that every night,” Emma said. “So he knows who dad is but I think obviously the longer it’s left it’s going to take a toll.”
Riley shares his father’s passion for motors and “won’t play with anything else,” Emma said. “It reminds me of his dad.”
Emma explained that Hutchinson had slipped into a bad place because of his struggles with his mental health before he was sentenced to jail.
She wants to make sure that Riley understands his father needed help and wasn’t a completely bad person.
“Having that conversation with a young child is not going to be the easiest,” Emma admitted. “Not everyone in prison is bad, some of them are just lost and when they fall into addiction they do things that they wouldn’t normally do.”
“And if people like Kevin got the help before it got to this point he wouldn’t be where he is today, I know that for a fact. He’s been failed,” she added.
“There needs to be more awareness for people with mental health issues because half of the prison population have got mental health issues – I think if half of that was corrected by police or the NHS the prisons wouldn’t be overcrowded.”
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