‘I was first arrested at 7 years old – I was desperate to be in jail like dad’

A reformed criminal who was first put in the back of a cop car aged seven says his dream as a kid was to get banged up.

Ricky Killeen was raised in Stanley, Durham, where he started smoking weed and drinking bottles of cider with pals when he was 11.

His dad had been in and out of prison and as a child he had a distorted understanding of what it would be like.

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But the grim reality dawned on him years later when he was sent to HMP Frankland – once home to some of Britain’s most evil offenders like Harold Shipman and the Yorkshire Ripper.

Ricky, now 38, spoke to Daily Star about his experiences inside after being punished in 2006 for a brutal machete attack that left his victim’s arm “hanging off”.

But first he discussed getting into trouble with the police when he was still in primary school.

“When I was seven I shoplifted,” he said. “We didn’t really have much and the lad I was knocking around with was a few years older than me and I looked up to him.

“We were in one of the shops in Stanley pinching aftershave bottles and cassettes. We were in four or five times and on the last one the security guard stopped us on the way out.

“He took us in the back room and phoned the police and we got put in the back of a police car and we were brought to the station.

“Then my parents had to come and get us. It was all just a game to me and I wasn’t even bothered.

“I grew up around it and I grew up around people who had been to prison, obviously my dad had spent a lot of time in prison when he was younger.

“From the age of seven and eight people were talking about prison and glamourising it. So for me I wasn’t fazed and I just really wanted to go there from a young age.”

Ricky became a regular troublemaker and he was next taken to the police station aged 10 after smashing every window in his school for being expelled.

Baffled cops questioned him and he kept saying “no comment” before they let him go.

But he was eventually hit with the full force of the law in his early 20s.

Ricky was due to be sentenced after being involved in a house party fight but in the meantime he landed himself in further bother by initiating a horrific machete attack.

Remembering what happened, he admitted: “Me and another couple of people went to his [victim’s] house, kicked his door in and ran in with machetes and started chopping him with machetes.”

He was handed an IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) sentence for causing grievous bodily harm with intent – and his inmate card stated his incarceration could be 99 years.

Ricky started in a young offender’s prison before eventually being transferred to the infamous Frankland, where he was put on the same wing as his dad.

Recalling his time there, he said: “When I landed there, in my mind I was thinking ‘yes, I've made it to the top’ because I was in a high security prison in the North East.

“I wasn’t even bothered by it but the second day I was there I saw an Al-Qaeda terrorist leader get a pan of boiling hot oil tipped over his head.

“That was my second day there and I thought ‘wow this is dangerous’ and I was thinking ‘f***ing hell what is going on, this place is crazy’. There was loads of tension on the wing after that.”

Ricky, who was 21, began experiencing severe anxiety and struggled with his mental health.

He then took a six month drug and alcohol course and said that was the moment his life and mindset changed.

The prisoner opened up about his childhood for the first time and he evaluated his situation and where he wanted to go in future.

He was released after five years before he went on to get married and have kids while starting his own business.

Ricky, who now runs his own gym and is the author of Behind the Bars Ruthless Fitness, had another prison stint for aggravated vehicle taking and having no insurance.

But he has now completely turned his life around and he dedicates his free time helping youngsters.

He runs his own YouTube channel called Behind the Bars TV, where he interviews reformed criminals.

The ex-prisoner has also raised thousands for charity and he spoke about why wanted to make a positive difference.

He said: “On YouTube I started talking about prison and educating the youth on what prison is actually like and trying to deter them from going down the route I went down.

“Prison is glamourised for kids like it was for me and a lot of kids don’t have any positive role models and I want them to have me as a role model.

“I want them to say ‘right I don’t want to go to prison and be like him, I want to be like him because he is successful and he has a business and he is doing good for himself’.”

Concluding, he added: “What I would say to kids going down the path I went down is to try and get into sport or get into something that is going to have a positive impact on your life.

“Don’t just follow the crowd by taking drink and drugs just because other people are doing it.

“Don’t be afraid to do your own thing and get into some kind of employment, go to college and learn a trade.

“There are plenty of tradesmen making mega money and they are not into criminality.

“Everything I am doing now is just helping people. I just appreciate every moment, just being out now and helping people in every bit of spare time I have makes me feel good.”


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