St Albans woman’s new life after 86 arrests

Michelle Taylor and PC Shaun Woods

Michelle Taylor and PC Shaun Woods - Credit: Archant

A reformed alcoholic who was slapped with an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) has said she feels “on top of the world” after leaving behind her life of crime.

Michelle Taylor was a binge drinker who was making her neighbour’s lives a misery and had been arrested no less than 86 times.

But that person is barely recognisable now the 43-year-old has turned over a new leaf after finding comfort at the Vineyard Church in St Albans.

Michelle, who had started drinking due to personal circumstances, had a big wake-up call when for the second time she stopped breathing while lying in a hospital bed.

She said: "I used to drink a couple of bottles of vodka a day and several cans, I could easily spend £200 to £300 Pounds a day. I wasn’t living, I was only existing. I wanted to die."

The former troublemaker claims being hit with a two-year Asbo in May 2010 also helped to get her back on the straight and narrow.

She went on: "I couldn’t stand the police a few years ago. They received injuries from me. But they were only doing their job.

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"I thought at the time they were always picking on me. I kept them very busy and I am now grateful for the police’s intervention and getting the Asbo.

"It helped me as I wasn’t allowed to come into St Albans city centre and couldn’t meet people in similar circumstances."

Michelle was well-known to the police having been arrested for a string of offences including being drunk and disorderly, shoplifting, public disorder and begging.

She also spent several months in prison, but this Christmas marked two years since she has come to the police’s attention.

Pc Shaun Wood, city centre neighbourhood officer, said: "Michelle’s transformation shows that things can be turned around when you are low and there are people who can help - everyone deserves a second chance."

Michelle became involved with the Vineyard Church in Brick Knoll Park, off Ashley Road, when she heard it was home to one of the county’s largest food banks.

She has appealed to anyone who finds themselves in a similar position to come to her for advice.

Carol Cahill, who runs the programme, said: "She has become part of our family and everyone here knows Shelley for all the right reasons."