Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Now It Can Be Told- Part 5

I've never been a witness in a trial before, so the whole business was somewhat stressful. I have been a supporting artiste in a television drama set in a courtroom, but have never had to be a witness. We were due to go to court last Wednesday and Thursday and got to the Magistrates court well before the 10.00 a.m. time we were given. We went into Milton Keynes centre by bus as we weren't sure where we'd be able to park and on top of everything else it was going to be stressful if we had to worry about parking charges and one thing and another.
As it turned out, the case in the court before us was over-running, so we had to go away and waste time in the shopping centre and then went back at 2 p.m. to then be told that the trial wasn't going to start until the following day at 10 a.m. This only added to the stress. I just wanted the thing to start so I could do what was required of me and then go home. I think Carol was getting more stressed than me, particularly when Brown appeared and made an issue (or so it seemed) of being there. We obviously couldn't communicate, but his body language seemed to say it all.
Then we learned that he had already been in Court and had been fined £1000 for his part in the flytipping (part of this being for Court costs.) for breaching 'Duty of Care' regulations and not providing the relevant documentation, but the actual trial I was to give evidence to wasn't against him, it was the gentleman who had done the actual flytipping.
There was a break in the proceedings and one of the court ushers allowed me to go inside the empty courtroom to get an idea of what the lay-out was like, where I was to sit (ie- in the dock) and this was a good thing as it calmed my nerves and I found that it wasn't as large as I was expecting. I think television can give a false perspective on things, make a courtroom seem a good deal bigger than it really is. The trial began and it was some time before I was called to give my evidence. Neil Brown sat in the public seated area and Carol had to sit a few seats along from him. The gentleman who was being tried sat in a glassed-in area.
As the prosecutor started to ask me questions, my nerves began to settle down. I was shown some of the photographs Wayne Turner had shown me the week before, when I had to identity our belongings in the pile of stuff that had been flytipped. There were one or two items which were really difficult to identify on the photographs, because they weren't particularly clear images, so I was shown better-quality photographs. Then I was shown photographs taken by Brown of the state of the interior of the house in Crownhill. I was supposed to identify items that were in the pile of the flytipped items, and it seemed somewhat unfair as I hadn't seen these images before.
After the prosecutor cross-examined me, it was the turn of the defence, a lady. I have to say that, as things progressed, my nerves began to subside, and I really quite enjoyed the experience. In all it was something of a learning curve, as I have never been involved in a real trial.
There was a break for 'comfort' as they say, an excuse to go to the loo, and have a breather and then it was back into the courtroom.
Eventually I was allowed to leave the courtroom, and I was told by the Judge that I wasn't to talk to anyone about anything and not discuss evidence.
We were free to go home. Wayne Turner, who had also sat in on the trial (and who had also given evidence. It was him who had discovered the dumped items in the first place.) told me that he would ring when there was a verdict.
It was a relief when we eventually left the courtroom and walked back towards the city centre and caught the bus home. It was about 2 p.m. when we got back to the house. Sometime later Wayne Turner rang to give us the verdict. The Judge could not find any evidence to suggest that John Fleminghad been responsible for the flytipping.  I reckon Brown slipped him a backhander to clear the house and wasn't bothered what happened to the stuff. It was made to look as if we'd dumped the stuff, when it was clear from the evidence that we couldn't have done this, as we wouldn't dump stuff which it was very clear we would need. At one point I was asked to identify the milk carton which contained petrol and had a rag stuffed in the neck. I said that it couldn't have been ours, as the  'best before/sell by date' which was clearly shown in the photograph was well past the date we had left the house.
So that is the end of that episode in our lives. Thankfully we can move on and leave it behind us.
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