'I missed the birth of my child in jail' – ex-England hooker Moore

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The first time former England hooker Scott Moore held his baby girl, it was across the table in a crowded visitors’ centre at HMP Risley.

Not in a hospital. Not in the comfort and privacy of his own home. In prison.

It was the price 30-year-old Moore paid for a night of madness that could have cost him his career, his family and his life.

Moore was sent to prison for 23 months for dangerous driving and assault, following a police car chase and a fight with officers which saw him Tasered six times.

His real punishment, though, was what he missed while inside.

“My partner was pregnant, so that was hard from that perspective. I couldn’t help her while she was struggling,” the former St Helens, Wakefield and Huddersfield player told BBC Sport.

“I missed the birth of my child, so I definitely paid some prices for being in there.

“The only time I’d meet her was in visits, so just having her on my own when I was released was amazing.”

Ignoring the alarm bells

The journey that led Moore from youngest Super League debutant as a 16-year-old to time behind bars is one of immense highs and a brutal low.

He had all the talent to excel in his sport. He played for his country, in the elite National Rugby League in Australia and in Super League.

He was catapulted into the limelight with money to spend, and time in which to spend it.

“It was the culmination of a few things really,” Moore said. “I’d come to the off-season, I was drinking a lot, I was having problems away from rugby and rugby was my stability.

“Once that was away and I had a lot of free time – I hit the booze too hard, one day just melted into another and before I knew it I was in the position I found myself in.

“I didn’t really notice anything wrong at the time, but looking back there were a few alarm bells ringing but I didn’t take notice of them.”

How Moore ended up in prison

Scott Moore

Whatever the circumstances resulting in the incident that saw him jailed, the footage from that night remains uncomfortable viewing.

“I just look at it as if some idiot is doing it, but the idiot is me. I can’t take it back,” Moore said.

“What the video shows is it went on for 50 minutes, but it seemed to me to be over in a split second.”

It took some time for the police to bring the situation to a close, with one officer requiring treatment for an injury, and it was only in the aftermath that reality kicked in.

“Of course, I got taken to hospital afterwards,” he continued. “I had 30-odd stitches in my head where I’d been hit with the batons and I’d been Tasered numerous times so I was in a bit of a state after my adrenaline ran out.

“I was transported to the police station. It was then about trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

Since that night, Moore has not spoken with the officers he encountered.

“I wrote letters in court, but I don’t think they would want to see me again to be honest,” he said.

“I tried my best to apologise on and before the day [of sentencing]. But I can’t change what happened.”

Being on bail for 18 months

Having faced his family after they came to collect him from the police station – they were first concerned then angry and he admits there were ‘a few rollickings’ – Moore waited for his punishment.

Wakefield, the club he was playing for at the time of the incident in October 2016, dispensed with his services.

It was not until March of this year that he was finally sentenced, having been offered chance to play at Bradford under former Saints team-mate and friend Leon Pryce in the intervening period.

“As we were full-time at Bradford, I was back into my routine again, and that took the focus away from what was looming,” Moore said. “I knew early on that the inevitable was coming.

“It was about trying to get my ducks in a row and crack on until then, but it was difficult because your life is on hold. I was on bail for 18 months.

“If I’d just been sentenced there and then I’d have been done long before this. That’s how it is.”

Being happy on his own – in prison

Prison cell

Once inside, he had to get used to the high walls, razor-wire fences and cell doors – as well as lock-up times and the food.

Moore made friends on his wing, worked in the gym for £18-a-week, which helped him buy items from the canteen, and played badminton and tennis to keep his mind and body alert.

“I didn’t want to look at a rugby ball, it made me sick to realise what I was missing,” he continued. “The first two months I had a cell-mate, we used to play games, play cards, watch telly.

“Probably after about six weeks you get used to how things are and you become detached from the outside world, you know how everything operates and you just get on with it.

“A lot of prison is ‘if you can deal with your own self and your self-worth, it’s not as hard a place’.

“People struggle when they can’t deal with themselves, their own people and they resort to drugs and things that are floating around inside.

“I was quite happy to be on my own, it was a bit of soul-searching after everything that had happened. In a way it was quite like a rehab.”

Visits from your ‘real mates’

The one link with the outside world for prisoners comes when visits are made.

One such visit was not only Moore’s first introduction to his newborn daughter, but also a glimpse of normality.

“In Risley where I ended up, it was a nightmare to book visits so I was lucky to get one a week,” he added.

“It was mainly my girlfriend because she was pregnant, and whoever of my mates wanted to come.

“You find out who your mates are and luckily I’ve got some really good friends and family around me.”

Returning to rugby

Moore’s release from prison in October alerted several Championship and League One clubs to his availability and the potential for a return to the game.

In the end it was Carl Forster, a former team-mate at St Helens and London Broncos, who persuaded the playmaker to sign for Championship club Rochdale Hornets despite interest elsewhere.

“I spoke to a few clubs, Swinton were up there with Stu Littler – who’s another good mate of mine – and Workington with Pryce.

Scott Moore

“But this is one of the closest clubs bar Swinton and a few of my mates are here and I just wanted to play some rugby with my mates really.”

Some coaches might have had concerns about signing a player with Moore’s history, but his new coach at the Hornets is confident it is a positive move for all concerned.

“On the field, his ability has never been questioned, and it’s my job to get the off-field stuff put to bed,” Forster said. “This is his second chance, he’s done his time.

“He’s just a typical rugby lad, gets on with everyone in the changing room.

“When I went down to London on loan, he took me in and looked after me when I knew no-one. Little things like that.

“Yes, he’s had a few headlines in the past, but that’s all behind him now and he’s a father now.”

Curfews, tags and rebuilding relationships

While Moore is trying to move on, there are still constant reminders that life is not quite back to normal. He wears a tag, and is on a nightly curfew.

The episode was hard on his partner Harriet, but the relationship has survived and has been a source of support during low times.

“We’re good and solid and happy,” he said. “She’s made up I’m on a curfew and I can’t go out of the house after a certain time. It means she keeps an eye on me.

“I have to be home for 10 o’clock on training nights, and other nights it’s 8 o’clock – I got special dispensation because of my job.

“We’re fine, I’m happy to be a dad, which was something I’d never really thought about.”

There are no rose-tinted glasses for Moore when thinking back on his time in prison.

The sobering isolation gave him food for thought. What would have happened if the incident had never happened?

“I’d probably still be at Wakefield, still with the same issues,” he added.

“I’d probably have ended up boozing a lot, trying to hide it and ended up worse. Who knows?

“I’ve just got to deal with it and take each day as it comes while rebuilding my life.”

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