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A Slingshot And A Rifle Made This Woman Into A Single Mother

After police barged into the home of Mel Jacob's, she and her young children were set on a journey that would take them years to get past.

The police weren't able to tell her that night what Patrick had been charged with.

Her husband, and father of her two young children had left the house that afternoon and later found himself behind bars.

The following day, the 43-year-old the mother of a five and two year old found out that her husband had been arrested for possessing and selling unlicensed weapons.

The 37-year-old would eventually serve two years of a four-and-a-half year prison sentence which stemmed from charges for possessing a slingshot, which was illegal in their state, and an unregistered rifle.

"The police, eight of them, knocked on our door one afternoon in January 2011. We were about to go on holiday," she said. "They said they had a warrant and needed to search the house. Patrick was locked up that night and our son, Nick, was desperate to know where he was."

Her reaction was as calm as she could muster given the situation.

"I was honest with them from the beginning," she said.

Mel decided to be honest with her kids, because with the police at their door, there was only so much she could hide.

"My son is an anxious child and the more you conceal from him the more he worries," she said.

She didn't have a chance to talk to Patrick right away, but when she did, he told her that he didn't realize what he had done to lead to his arrest.

Life in Prison

"My mother told me that I staggered out of the courtroom, pulling at my clothes and howling," Mel Jacob says in the book she ended up writing, In Sickness, In Health … and In Jail.

A judge had just revoked his bail and ruled that he would serve time in custody for his offenses related to prohibited weapons.

"I'd fallen head over heels in love with his gentleness," she writes. "It had served him well in the regular world but I couldn't begin to imagine how he would survive in prison. I feared that he wouldn't be able to look after himself or that something would happen to him [but] I also feared ... I wouldn't be able to keep the [family] business going and look after the kids."

Mel and Patrick met when she was 23 at a picnic organized by mutual friends. They married in 1998 and have two children together.

"With him I was lighter, sunnier, more effervescent than I was on my own," she says.

"I was extremely angry with Patrick — furious — this seemed to contradict everything I thought I knew about him. How could he do something so stupid?" Mel said.

He had agreed to sell the unregistered rifle to an undercover police officer in his shop and had assembled the slingshot for him- both of which were crimes.

Patrick was being held in a prison 6 hours away, so she would take 12-hour round trips so that she and her kids could visit with him.

"I think I found the visits harder than they did," Mel said. "And it was quite humiliating for Patrick. But we decided it was better for them to see him and continue that relationship."

While the family didn't feel the full force of Patrick's absence from the household right away, him being away did eventually take its toll on everyone.

"My life changed enormously. I was a single mom, even if I wasn't technically. I had to take the reins of Patrick's business, so we could have an income and let my freelance writing slide," she said.

It impacted their children's lives as well.

"My son was saying the whole time that divorce was way better than prison. I told him you might feel like that way but suffering is not a competition," she said.

Home from Jail

Patrick was not the same when he finally made his return home.

"He would get really angry. Normally I'm the fiery one and he's the calm person," she said. "But he would go off about the pantry being messy, or the toothbrush jar that had gunk on the bottom."

His behavior was also impacted from his time being behind bars.

"He flinched at loud noises and would sometimes recoil when touched on the arm," she said.

The couple is happy to be back together and they are working on how to live as a family again.

"It's going to take a really long time for him to heal," says Mel.

Sources: Daily Mail / The Sydney Morning Herald / Good Housekeeping