Read enough court stories — or better yet, cover them — and you’ll start to notice some common threads. For example, just about everyone has a hard-luck story to tell. Some of these are genuinely harrowing and touch on backgrounds so difficult that you feel a mixture of sympathy for the accused and gratitude for your relatively rosy lot in life. But some of them are half-baked attempts at excusing the inexcusable by people who should know better. Another common thread that binds so many of these court stories is methamphetamine. In today’s paper, you will read about a father of five who assaulted a 62-year-old woman and stole her car after she stopped to watch the fireworks at the Albany Agricultural Show. You will also read about a 41-year-old man who set fire to six bins in the Albany CBD as a “cry for help”. In Tuesday’s paper, there was a story about an Albany financial consultant who stole $150,000 from a vulnerable client who was planning to retire before the theft. And two weeks ago, we reported on an Albany man who repeatedly rammed his partner’s car while their two eight-week-old babies were in the back seat. All four of those men were using meth when they committed their crimes and all four of them are now in prison. This list could keep going and going, but you get the point. Meth is a particularly insidious drug and it is particularly effective at ruining lives, regardless of background. It is a road to ruin and it does not discriminate. The evidence is heard in our courts week in, week out.