CASE NOT GUILTY - Ray Gosling
I know the way to do it – to tell a story you start at the beginning, and end at an end. But with this story I’m going to write the end first.
Paragraph One: THE END.
The procedure of prosecution had been – well, the usual – the charges had been laid, by police – and the accused had been presented at magistrates court – once, twice, thrice adjourned, adjourned, adjourned. No magistrates will touch this type of case so it went after listing and listing and listing and hearing hearing and hearing with court reporting lurid headlines one, two, three and then up to a listing for Crown Court. One hearing: another hearing – case and management - and then in the fullness of time a full trial. The fullness of time in this case is three years. At least in this case the accused had been on bail.
AT THE TRIAL
On day one – as per usual the Crown Prosecutor makes the case and the complainant has his say at the witness stand. The jury listen.
On day two we get the complainant’s support. The CPS barrister calls to the witness stand the complainant’s Dad – and then some rather inconclusive, inconsequential evidence that does simply corroborate that the accused lived in the home. He is/was who he is and he was there at that the time of the allegations – but not necessarily that he did anything he is accused of.
Indeed the accused seemed to have been an entirely well behaved young lad – apart from smoking on the landing/fire escape but most of the boys including the complainant did that.
The jury are now sent out of court to their room as there is a hostile witness – i.e. a witness for the prosecution being ordered to attend to give evidence. This is a problem as he now denies what he originally told the police – that he can remember the complainant coming out of the room he shared with the defendant at the children's home crying/ screaming. “Screaming,” the witness now says that though he said that to the police, it’s not right.
While the jury are sent out there’s legal argument about what should be put to them and in the end it’s an innocuous written statement. The defence barrister responds with the jury back in – that often the complainant was crying – and there is evidence of that. He was bullied – and the defendant was if anything a befriender.
Day three it’s the defendant’s day. Indeed the defendant has only himself – no support. His defence counsel help him through and then the Crown Prosecutor attacks. This is normal procedure. The defendant is very composed and replies clear and simple – he did not he did not he did not.
Day Four – first part of the morning the Crown sum up and then the Defence sum up and then we have an early lunch.
We all trail back into court 1.30 I think - and the judge then sums up – members of the jury file out at 2.27.
And we’re shunted as per normal into the corridor and the court doors are locked. Normal procedure – Now I never thought anything of this at the time it but the defendant is allowed to go out too and goes down in the lift with his boy friend rolling up a fag to smoke outside. It’s a very big court this. Unusual I’ve thought later - that the defendant is let out while the jury decide. Usually the defendant is locked up in this period between the end of the case and the jury’s verdict. I didn’t think anything of it at the time.
I was thinking it’s a very big very modern court this – big city – and I was in the corridor, sorting my papers and thinking I’ve time to pop next door to Wetherspoons and have a glass of red wine – it’s right next door the Wetherspoons to this enormous court. So I’m bundling my papers – that sort of thing when the court stenographer come bustling down the corridor – little old man. What what – I cry to him. The jury are coming back in. Oh Christ what for ? I mean I’m used to this – how many trials have I now attended – scores and scores and the jury are always coming back in for directions on this and that and in this trial there are what was it ? - 11 charges. And the jury are 12 persons and it’s 2.35. 2.27 to 2.35.
“What for ?” I pester the stenographer
“It’s a verdict” He’s red faced – shocked as me
“A verdict ?” –
“Yes: apparently.” – in eight minutes !
Yes yes The usher unlocks the court doors
12 persons: 6 men/ 6 women 11 charges and they’ve a verdict in 8 minutes. Back in we all go – wigs on – someone finds the defendant who docks his fag and goes back in the dock with the prison man Dock door locked. Wigs adjusted - the barristers. Be upstanding and the judge comes in. We all bow – and then the jury file in unsmiling, and take their places 2.40.
The court clerk, she says have you appointed a foreman ?
He stands up.
On count one – buggery with a child – how do you find the defendant – not guilty.
Is this verdict of a you all. It is.
On count two indecency with a child – how do you find the defendant – guilty or not guilty. Not guilty .
I am crying now . And they go through the other 9 indecencies – all not guilty – the verdict of you all – it is.
The judge – I think judges are trained not to cry – beckons the defendant -
“You can step out of the dock now, you’re free – but just stand there a moment.” The judge says thank you members of the jury…you’ve done your duty etcetera etcetera but you may be required further for other cases so go back to the jury room and thank you. The jury file away.
Yes ? he says – as a question to the prosecution – this is, is it ? in case the prosecution want to say they want a retrial – is it ?
“Nothing your honour,” respond the prosecution.
“Yes ?” his honour says to the defence. The defence say – there is a question of my client’s expenses – Yes says his honour. The defence say he lives now on an off shore island and has had considerable expense with flight fares onto the mainland for the various hearings and having to put up in B and B. Yes says his honour they should all be met.
Anything else – silence
Court rise says Madam Clerk We bow and the judge leaves the court. The freed defendant goes to the public gallery and is embraced by his friend – they just cry and cry and cry – they hug and embrace and kiss and just cry and cry and cry. .
I need another packet of tissues myself.
This case – these cases should never be brought.
We need a statue of limitation because this case was that 25 years ago – 25 years before 2009 it was when these allegations happened. He is now proven totally innocent .
The complainant was then 11/ 12 years old and like the defendant living in a children's home because for both of them their parents couldn’t care for them. The defendant would be 15 at the time of the allegations. For a time these two lads shared a room in the home. The defendant was fairly well adjusted – the complainant was being bullied by other residents- for various reasons. The defendant was clearly a bit of a friend / protector to the complainant. Years passed – both left the children's home and went their way – and then 20 years later the complainant makes these allegations – one attempted buggery and 9 specimen cases of indecent assault
The complainant, said the judge in his summing up went on to have a life of crime including compensation for an assault –
The defendant said the Judge went on to a life that was hard and yet he has a record of no offences of any kind. “And you may take it from me,” His Honour to the jury, “that if the Prosecution would have found anything like that they’d have brought it to your attention.” Nothing. Unblemished – despite having difficult times. You may make of this what you will members of the jury you decide.
Why, at one stage said the judge when the jury had been put out and wigs were arguing legal points – why said the judge has this case taken three years from when the charges were made/ laid against the defendant before it gets to this court. The prosecution said there had to be further investigations made. I bloody bet – the police/ child protection/ social services were trawling like buggery to find corroborative evidence. None was found. Coercion – force no : never – not with no one ?
Other attempts at indecencies…allegations of sex with other boys ? None
The defence asked the complainant why he hadn’t come forward earlier – why it had taken him 20 years to say these things had happened.
Because the defendant didn’t realise how serious these things were until there was the business on the telly with Michael Jackson
And he didn’t know the defendant was gay until much later.
Of course said the his honour to the jury in the summing up – you make your mind up about the complainant’s character and why it took so long to come forward with these sensitive kind of accusations. I remind you it may take time. I remind you the fact a complainant has criminal convictions may or may not be taken into account – all are equal under the law etcetera etcetera.
So how did the jury 12 good folk deal with deciding 11 charges in 8 minutes unanimously not guilty. Well I suppose during the various breaks when they were sent out to their jury room so there could be legal arguments on this point and that point – they slowly came to the simple conclusions as I had done from day one – that this case is nonsense. These accusations are a pack of lies. The accuser is chancing himself with the lure of compensation.
As I filed out behind the now ex-defendant with his arms entwined around his boyfriend – and left the court as they – hurt, bruised but free.
It’s over I said to them. Well done.
You want to go to Wetherspoons – no – no and they were crying again. We want to go home
Of course I’d have liked the judge to have ordered the accuser to be charged.
But that’s how it is. He didn’t.
Sometimes in rape of women cases they have been.
The accuser is charged with making false accusations.
For it is always the accused who faces the publicity and the accuser is protected by anonymity.
There we are.
What we GAY MONITOR simply suggest from our years now of gay monitor is that if say 5 years after reaching the age of majority you haven’t made your allegation – forget it – in all normal cases. For example in the current UN court in Phnom Penh – the prosecution said these crimes are “beyond any statute of limitation”. There will always be crimes beyond a statute of limitation. But there should be in this country with allegations of crimes of a minor nature that if you haven’t complained within say 5 years – forget it.
That’s how it is in civil proceedings in the UK It should be so in criminal cases of this kind That’s how it is in most of Europe, provinces of Canada, and most states in the U.S.A.
Who will help us push this argument forward ?