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The following is the Victim Personal Statement of one of Chanz Maximen’s victims.
This statement is for you, Chanz. We have not had the chance to talk since the event. It’s for you because, the three most important people in this event are you, me and [your other victim]. I’ve thought about you a lot since that time, and I want to say, mainly to you, and also the court what it’s like for me.
To begin, I want to say that I am not upset or angry with you. I don’t think you owe me an apology or anything, but I do want to you to know what it’s like for me. Perhaps one day, I will also learn what it’s like for you too, since the events. What happened on that night, happened, you and me were connected in it – and neither of us can change the events of that night now.
In the early days after event I was quite mixed up about it. When I got back to my house from the hospital, the blood was all over the inside. I wanted to leave it there for a few days before I cleaned it up because I sort of couldn’t quite believe what had happened, and that I had experienced it. In one way, the sight of the dried blood brought back memories of the fear from when I was sitting on the floor in my house, bleeding and short of breath, waiting for the ambulance and hoping I would not die before they came. And weird thoughts… like I always wondered why you shone a light through the letterbox. In other ways, it made me feel incredibly lucky that it turned out the way it did, because I was still alive and able to walk about.
I was determined that, as much as possible, I would go back to my regular life around Clifton, still going out to coffee shops and walking to work etc. Walking round Clifton was a bit difficult because the police had not found you then. Every time I saw someone who looked a bit similar, even just someone wearing a hoody of a similar build, I would sort of tense up and tell myself just to be normal and not fearful. Then I would feel bad for thinking ill of the person in the hoody. Other things were difficult like walking in the street outside my house in the dark, especially when it was wet and pavement was shining like on the night of 30 October. And answering the door when I wasn’t expecting someone, was something I could not do without thinking twice. I would try to be normal for me, and not put the chain on to stop someone pushing in, like you did, but sometimes I just had to. Then I would feel impolite for not opening the door with a proper polite welcome. The same kind you got when I opened my door to you, I guess.
I think you know that, shortly after you were first arrested, the police did an identity parade in which you and I took part. I thought it was you from that, but I was not 100% sure so I did not identify you because I did not want to risk identifying the wrong person. That would have felt unfair. In this period the police kept me regularly informed as the various investigations around CCTV and other bits of evidence were being discovered. At that time the evidence against you was weak and incomplete, and I remember arguing with the police, defending what turned out to be your case, suggesting they might have the wrong suspect.
However, the evidence developed over the next month. I was away from Bristol for the week when you were arrested in December. When I came back to Bristol after hearing of your arrest (and also the evidence against you, which I now believed) I did feel safer and also a sense of relief in having a greater freedom to walk around Bristol again.
Now that word, freedom – I know this is my personal statement, but I don’t want it to be all about me. I have often reflected how lucky I am to have survived, retaining my freedom, enjoying a nice lifestyle etc. And then I try to imagine what life is like for you (and your family) now, with your freedom curtailed from the time when you were also walking round Clifton on your way to school, as I was to work. I have no experience of what prison is like, or what you have to endure. Like many of us the restrictions of the virus and lockdowns in not going out have been a bit difficult for me, but I know it’s nothing compared with what you have had, for the last year, and it seems may continue in some form, for a number of years now.
In January and February I went on holiday to get away from Bristol. I wanted a break from Bristol after the events, to sort of make a new start. Again I felt very privileged to be alive and able to go and enjoy the holiday. But amid all the great experiences on it, I never stopped thinking about you. I don’t know why, but sometimes I would feel bad that I had this great freedom – but you didn’t. I wondered if you had just make a mistake – albeit a big one – or been unlucky. When I compared my position with what I imagined yours to be, it sort of didn’t seem fair, although I know that’s hard to understand.
Returning to Bristol I wanted life to be normal. In many ways it was, before we were all overtaken with the events of the virus. I don’t want to make out that I was greatly incapacitated or my life was ruined for ever in this statement. It wasn’t, and it isn’t. I’m surviving. In terms of activities, I do all the things I would have done, if it had never happened. My scars have healed quite well, and most people don’t notice even the ones on my face now. Even my arm, where some small nerves were cut by some of wounds has now gone back to normal. The pain has gone and I can feel my skin again.
The constant succession of delays in progress of the case over the summer was not optimal. Some were due to the virus – which affected many people worse than anything I have experienced from it. I do remember when I heard at one point that it was now spreading in prisons, that my first thought was to hope you didn’t get it.
Then came the two trials. At this point I started to learn a little more about you. Before the trials, I believed, from the evidence I had had explained to me that it was you who attacked me. After we saw each other in court, I knew for sure it was you. In the first trial you kind of acknowledged it with the eye contact we had, even though we did not speak with each other. I am not overly bothered that you pleaded ’not guilty’. People do funny things in courts and legal systems all the time.
My view of you changed over the trials. From what I understand of what was said, and with the different eye contact we had in the second trial, you didn’t seem to understand what you had done and the impact. I got lucky – and I am alive – but I very nearly died. I’ll say again, that I am not angry with you – but I want to say to you that I am a real human being – just as you are – and I respect our lives equally. When you wrote that note in prison about ‘…going to the guy’s house and stabbing him…’ – ‘the guy’ was me. The same also applies for [your other victim]. We are all real human people, who live, love, hate etc. But killing should not be a human thing – and that nearly happened, and I’m unsure if you wanted that to happen when you stabbed me. If I were in your position – that would be a very scary thought for me, but I don’t know if you understand it or at all how it is for you.
Since the trials, although I think I am supposed to feel better about it, as I should now have more ‘closure’ I am more troubled with intrusive thoughts. I live alone and sometimes when in my house I hear noises and door creaks from the wind etc. This now makes me worry that there is someone else in my house and I have to fight an urge as to whether I go and look or not. I don’t think the person is you, but just someone who wants to do bad things to me. I imagine myself talking to them trying to keep the situation calm so that they will not do anything bad to me – in the same way that we talked in the street outside my house. A similar thing happens when I wake having dreams. There is man who wants to do some kind of harm to me, and I want to say, no don’t do it, it won’t help you, but at the same time fearing he will and would feel cocky for doing it.
Sorry to say I still have a thing about men in hoodies when I cannot see their face. If one walks past my house and I see them through the same window at which you looked at me, it creeps me a bit. And then there’s the thing about opening the door for deliveries, especially when it’s dark. I stupidly left my car lights on in the afternoon today, and two neighbours came to my door, 5 minutes apart, to tell me about the lights as it got dark when they noticed them. I wasn’t expecting anyone, and although I wanted to open the door and be properly welcoming without the chain, I just couldn’t and had to speak to them through a crack in the door.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and undo what has happened to us – but I can’t, so we have to get on with life in whatever form that takes. I’ve tried to share some of what it was and is like for me. I don’t know how it is for you. I’m guessing that this will be the last contact we have, at least for a bit. So, however it works out for you – and you have a lot of years left to live in the normal order of things – good luck and all the best.