Former gang member who spent 21st birthday in prison turns his life around
- Credit: Dan Adams
An Ipswich man who was jailed for having a samurai sword at a street brawl shows 'with a bit of hard work' it is possible to break free from a life of drugs, crime and gangs.
Dan Adams was convicted in 2008 over maliciously wounding another individual and says he decided he needed to make a change when his lawyer told him he would be spending several months behind bars.
He had spent his teens involved in gangs living in Chantry and said his rap sheet must have at least 30 offences on it, but he's no longer ashamed of his past because of what he's managed to achieve now.
"It was a crazy time, I was in what kids now call the road life," he explained. "I was doing drugs, stealing cars, doing awful things and it was horrendous.
"It was so stupid and I missed by 21st birthday, the birth of my first child and it was those moments which really hit home for me.
"I had been on tag before but never fully lost my freedom and it's not until all your luxuries are taken away from you that you get that reality shock."
Mr Adams was charged in 2007 and spent a year waiting for his court date, knowing he would be going to prison.
He took a course at Otley College (now Suffolk Rural) and his teachers allowed him to take his exams halfway through the year when his sentencing cut his time in education short. He achieved a distinction despite his study time being limited.
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He served half his 30-month sentence and upon release entered the construction industry, working for big companies and then the Port of Felixstowe for four years.
"I initially wanted to work in probation but I couldn't justify the cost of it when I needed to provide for my family," the dad-of-four said.
"I worked 10 years solid without a break to get all my certificates and qualifications, so then when Covid hit I had experience in every area of the industry and I decided to take the opportunity to go out on my own.
"I believe everything happens for a reason and going to prison at that time was the best thing for me — if you break out of the cycle, you aim high and push yourself you can achieve.
"A little belief and hard graft, the more work you put in the greater the results."
His company, Reform Groundworks And Landscapes, has enjoyed huge success and employs three people including an apprentice.
Though the 34-year-old doesn't have a one size fits all solution to breaking out of the cycle of crime, but he does want to share the message that it is possible.