Now – case No 2 – these are all recent cases – involves a taxi driver from another region of the country completely. A 40,000 peopled coal mining/ex-coal mining town where shall we call him No 66 drives a taxi.
He’s an older middle aged man lives in a modest owner-occupied house with his long time lover/partner who is a textile engineer. His partner would have the better job. No 66 is more labouring class and drinks a bit – has a reddish face and a lispy speech impediment and a slow soft way of diction plus a stammer and staring eyes and had had some rough childhood. But – he’s immensely good hearted – No 66 – loyal, trusty and witty too and good fun albeit dry. But you’d have to know him to catch wit and fun and good heart. You’d get that if No 66 became Your Friend – immensely likeable: but on a cursory glance (or under interrogation) No 66 would appear neo-cretinous like a rough but ruddy faced Anthony Howard: unelegant and big – but No 66 inclined to stammering and mumbling. As this case progressed I dreaded getting toward Crown Court and No 66 in the witness box facing a jury. Phew…jail and do not pass GO.
Now No 66 drove a hired car for a private hire firm, doing mornings that included a lot of contract work, some involving special schools.
Maybe 5 – 10 years ago he had to daily pick up this lad who had Tourettes Syndrome and drive him
20 miles from his town which was also No 66’s town to a neighbouring town which had this Special School. The lad would be 12/ 13 and the lad’s parents had split up making the lad a very unhappy lad. No 66, out of friendliness had the lad sit with him in the front for the journey. The lad was also very unhappy having to attend this Special School. He said to No 66 one morning “I could kill myself.”
No 66 replied to the lad “ you don’t want to do that,” and explained how his own childhood had been so unhappy - and just patted the lad’s trousered thigh. That’s all I believe absolutely that was all that happened.
Then time passes and the lad is 15 now, and in normal local school and living with his Mother who has re-married a New Man. The lad one evening bikes by the town’s Wetherspoons and aspy’s there in the window his old taxi driver No 66. Well he lets on and the lad now has developed as no longer a suicidal or a special scholar but into rather a Jack the Lad.
“Hey up mate.”, he about accosts No 66 “Got any fags ?”
On another occasion “Hey mate, let/ lend us a fiver ?”
In fact now the lad is making a habit of riding his bike by Wetherspoons just to see if No 66 is in – an easy tap.
That was all. That was all I believe ever happened. That was all that was ever alleged by the C.P.S. when eventually charges were brought.
How the charges happened was this.
His Mum married the New Man. The New Man, wanting to prove himself to the Mum took a keen and genuine interest in the lad/ stepson and was a bit disturbed to find him hanging around the Wetherspoons and chatting with this old/ older ruddy faced big Anthony Howard like man. The New Man mentioned these things to the lad’s Mum and after some discussion – well maybe you say they panicked . They talked a lot to the lad – who revealed the oddbod man at Wetherspoons was the taxi driver No 66 who had previously taken him to Special School. 2 +2 make 5. They then asked “the” question “Did that man ever interfere with you ?”
Lad now Jack the Lad replies “Nah but once a-ha he touched my leg.”
“Ah it twere nothing.”
But Mum and StepDad consult each other and it is decided the police had better be informed. Well - that the matters be reported. Mentioned to authorities.
This is the land we live in – an Engerland of paedie panic.
The authorities interview all the parties. Of course. Police call child protection.
They the local authority. A special school involved. Goodness. Social Services the licensing division who withdraw No.66’s license / permit to drive a public taxi from that taxi firm And alert all authorities. No 66 is sacked – no alternative for the taxi firm. No 66 is out of a job – pending. Well – charges are laid – vague while more inquiries are made.
Ray Gosling writes on.
“I did magistrates with No 66 on his every appearance. I think there were six – adjourn adjourn adjourn alter charges etc. Eventually we’re at Crown Court in the County Town fixing dates and allocating time and taking plea and directions – but it’s vague charges: still only vague charges. His solicitors Johnson and Johnson (two brothers) are the best there is. We’re back to Crown as defence haven’t got the full original interviews police with accusers – so called by me accusers. Then No 66 had a heart attack/mild stroke – and into hospital and I think “Thank God it’s going to be off.” Postponed until medical reports. And then No 66 gets better somewhat and out of the ozzy with a stick and he decides he wants to carry on: on to a trial. We’re back in Crown and the judge is very sympathetic, saying “will he be well enough ?” “is sure he wants to ?” “We could drop it” almost he His Honour seems to be saying – but No 66 is adamant. He didn’t do anything wrong and never hurt the lad and wants to clear his name. “Very well,” says the Judge. And dates are fixed – and the Judge then says almost “But if you don’t feel well don’t come.” The defence say they still haven’t got all the papers. The Judge orders CPS to provide and a 4 day allocation is fixed and on the day we’re all there and it’s 10.30 and we’re ready/ the court is ready
to call. To swear in a jury. Right Ah “Hold on” – Stop says the CPS barrister fresh in from the London train “Hold on – I want an adjournment.”
Alright says the judge huffily. And we all, apart from the prosecutors. just hang about. At 11.45 the CPS barrister makes an offer to us defence team that if No 66 now says guilty to indictments 3. 7. and 9. (It was something like that) – the CPS will drop the rest. We huddle and decide – this case is not guilty and no deal.
At 12.30 we all file back into court. The CPS barrister says he has a statement to make. The barrister says he has himself personally this morning spoken by phone to the lad himself, and the lad’s mother: the step father and the lad’s natural father. None have any complaint against the defendant. And the CPS have reviewed the case and wish to withdraw all charges and are sorry Your Honour for the waste of public time and money.
“Yes yes,” sighs the judge – “couldn’t this have been done some months earlier than today ?” Regrettably it wasn’t. Ah dear. Stand up No 66 he barks at the dock. “You leave this court a free man with no stain upon your character.”
I’m crying - an apology to No 66 ? No. Compensation for No 66 – no. Job back – not yet.
No 66 thanks his defence team and then says to me “Buy us a few drinks Ray.
Don’t leave me yet Ray.”
“Well well yeah but you have to get busy you know to get your license back and into the job.”
He looks at me – loyal, friendly, big face holding, resting a big hand on his walking stick. “I’m quite close to killing myself now Ray.”