The bounty hunter from Brechin – BBC News
Christian Matlock is a bounty hunter who spends his days and nights tracking down fugitives who have skipped bail in the US state of Virginia.
With his dark sunglasses, his gun and his tattoos, he looks every inch the movie stereotype of the maverick American law enforcement officer, but until seven years ago Christian lived in Brechin.
He swapped the east coast of Scotland for the eastern seaboard of the US when he was 21.
He worked briefly as a bouncer in Washington DC before obtaining a licence as a bail enforcement agent, often referred to as bounty hunters.
They are contracted by bondsmen, money lenders who offer to cover bail money for those who can’t afford it in exchange for a 10% commission.
If the accused fails to show in court the bondsman loses the entire sum unless a bounty hunter can track down the fugitive.
In Virginia, like most US states, it is not only police who get to carry guns and chase criminals.
Christian says: “Every boy, every man wants to have the gun and go kicking in doors.
“It’s exciting being like that but I prefer being the undercover detective kind of guy.”
He says he is not a typical bounty hunter and has a low opinion of some others who seem to delight in the macho violence of the job.
Christian moved to the US seven years ago to track down his American father.
He had been getting into a lot of trouble at home and could not get a job.
“Plus I thought Americans always looked a lot cooler in movies so I thought I’d give it a try,” he says.
In the BBC documentary – The Scottish Bounty Hunter – Christian tells how he felt the need to escape his home town because he was taking “a lot of ecstasy” during “week-long parties”.
“There was bugger all else to do,” he says.
“I feel like in Scotland I was supposed to die there.”
His mother tells the programme she is pleased he left.
She says: “They were getting into trouble with the police and drinking and hanging around with the wrong people.
“Brechin doesn’t have anything going for it really. There’s not a lot of work in the area. It’s like some place to sleep now.
“There’s no potential here for young people.”
Christian sees similar problems in Virginia.
About 80% of the jobs he gets as a bounty hunter are drugs related.
He says he wants to help offenders and their families get back to a normal life but he gets paid for finding and putting people back in jail.
He says: “I can’t feel sorry for anyone or I’d just end up taking handcuffs off everybody.
“I’ve thought about taking them off many times and letting folk go but I can’t do that. This is what I signed up for.”
Christian can use lots of different methods to track people down but his first port of call is Facebook, which can give him clues to where people like to go and who they might be with.
He says he caught a women in Maryland because she used Facebook “check in”.
Christian says he knew she was going to a beauty school but didn’t know which one.
“She would ‘check in’ at this coffee shop every single morning,” he says.
“Every morning she was there at the same time ‘Getting coffee on my way to school’ – on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
“On the Thursday – no check in. Because I checked her into Winchester jail.”
As well as getting paid to put people in jail, Christian makes money getting people out.
Four years ago he started lending bail money as a bondsman himself.
In an average week he’ll track down five or six people and bail even more out of jail.
‘Can’t handle the stress’
He says the job is stressful, dangerous and exhausting.
“Bounty hunters don’t last very long,” he says.
“I only know of three or four who have been in it as long as I have.
“They either can’t handle the hours or can’t handle the stress.”
But Christian says he keeps doing it because it is a chance to help people turn their life around.
He says: “I’ve got a lot of relationships with people who might end up going off the rails if I left.
“This is a job you can’t do half-arsed.
“You are either going to be a bounty hunter full time or you are not going to be one at all.
“I’ve tried to get out of it two or three times but I just can’t seem to stop doing it.”