Crown Court 2008
Another town. Another Crown. Another day. But the usual swirls of searching swirling people Monday mornings in the lobbies and the public areas of the courts Yep: – I spot our man.
What’s the coarse Liverpool joke – “How do you tell who’s the defendant? A. He’s the one in the suit.” Yep – he’s the one - absolutely nervous as a pig must be as realises he’s about to be stabbed into pork – and he has been tortured, in the sense a lot has happened. A lot has happened between the first visit of a policeperson and now. He’s been named and shamed with picture in the papers from the lower court hearings. He now comes to the Crown expecting the worst. Bewildered: bruised. Once again – oh it’s again and again and a bloody again – these cases. I can tell he’s the man and I can tell also again and again – in his prime he had been some guy.
We’re on – really smart today and the jury file in. We’ve had a lot of interesting juries this year – as if they’ve cottoning on a bit. They look – this bunch - well 12 out the shopping mall, off the street – in trainers and T-shirts, in tops and jeans – not a suit among the jury. The judge is very jury friendly.
The accused/ defendant is in the dock of course by now. He looks oh dear. They just always do – he is the defendant. He’s 60/ 50 something. Almost always are. And he’s dressed – well the suit was snappy but now it’s seen a better day. His shoes polished. His shirt smart – ironed, with a tie tied too close I’d say but his hair gives him away. Not much of it – but enough to know he was rock n roll. The sides are greased and swept back, the hair at the back almost a D.A., and at the front as best he now can the teddy boy’s quiff.
I can tell this man was some guy – in his day, the bees knees on his council estate, which is where he still lives.
The evidence proceeds in the usual way – the principal accuser the lad/ ex-lad was touched up, wanked off and once when sleeping with accused overnight in a tent in a National Park the accused put his hard dick towards the lad’s bum and there was an attempt at buggery – although buggery is not a charge in this case.
I am going to sleep. Just because I’ve heard it all before. The accuser has come to court from a South Coast town. He’s had a terrible life. Drugs – trouble with his girl friend and now he blames it all on him. Why, twice he threw himself off Beachy Head. I think I am asleep. No:no he did say that – twice he threw himself off Beachy Head. And that’s it. All because twenty years ago he was interfered with by this man. That’s it ? That is it ? Yes. He is the lone accuser: very unusual. The authorities almost always get corroboration by volume. That’s it: here. We get arresting officers etcetera and then the defence.
Cross examination. Our man says he is not gay – and was married. (God knows what happens if you say you are gay) Yes it is difficult to throw yourself off Beachy Head. But he landed on a ledge. Yes – when he’d fathered his first child with this girl friend he did take baby back to show the man. Yes he had been fond of the man. Yes the man had been kind to him.
Again defences are getting wiser – and it’s again now it is defence by volume. Loads come in to witness box, like in a line. They’d known the defendant, been on trips with him, stayed overnight and nothing had happened to them.
A pattern emerges – our man in the dock was/ is a theatrical agent - booking rock bands ands comedy acts mainly for British and American forces overseas. He’d been groomed with BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) and American bases in this country and in Germany. Then he’d done Aden, and oh a string including Afghanistan. On the council estate where he lived he was well known, and well liked. He had an open top Cadillac – well it might have been a Chevrolet and as well as rock n roll he liked fishing – and often took parties to the National Park to overnight in tent and go fishing.
Well George Melly did that – maybe Gary Glitter didn’t. Well days go on like this – the defence witnesses dressed like the jury – top and T shirts and jeans. Only the defendant in this outdated suit – and he constantly is at spasmodic intervals breaking into spasms of twitching, lips shaking and two or three times a day tears. Ah dear. No – it is dreadful. The summing up takes a time. The judge takes a day and a half. The jury go out and they take two days and an half – because they can’t at 12: 12 – and nor at 10:2 agree.
The prosecution say there will not be a re-trial.
That’s it – he is let out the dock gate, free – in his shabby suit and his quavering lip and his out of time shiny shoes and I say in the tiny toilets to one of his supporters, because thank God he had some supporters – “that’s good.,” –
“But where can he live – he can’t come back to the estate.”
How much did it cost ? What did it do ?
“it” being the public purse and the public good.
And I am reminded of a Winter night in Leeds, two years or so ago. I was the speaker at the Gay Mens Group – talking about the cases we get to our website at ww.gaymonitor., and at question time this big guy spoke up. “Do you know Ray – if I saw a lad drowning in the pond on Roundhay Park I’d not go help now. I’d walk on by. You can’t risk, Ray. Not a smile: not a look.” Ah, I said, I suppose you’re right:- if you want to be “safe” but what a horrible world.