The Court building is a large grey box, three stories high and well past its prime is in the centre of town, thankfully just a twenty minute car ride from home. As I pull up outside, the heavens open. Small rivulets of water are already running down the side of the road splashing knee high off the pavement and I don’t have a brolly, it’s buried somewhere amongst the debris on the back seat along with two pairs of trainers, an unopened Brie and Pesto Baguette and collection of Cafe Latte cups.
I climb the steps two at a time, not dignified, but I was running late and grateful for that extra ten miles on the treadmill. I caught site of Detective Ryan, a slick haired blonde of about fifty five, as I tumble through the doors. His dull grey eyes probing my frame, as I walk towards the group. He says nothing but I catch him glancing at my tits as I bend to open my briefcase.
“Creep”, I mutter as I head over to my client; sat on the wooden bench opposite.
Louise Jones is small; a size eight, with short waif like hair that seems to emphasis the hollows in her cheeks. She stands with her side to me, bent forward a little, looking down at the floor. She doesn’t move or change position an inch, her breath a delicate whisper. Her mother, bottle dyed and time worn, strikingly similar to Louise, is stroking her hand. A sort of automatic gesture that instantly seems a bit too contrived, or am I over evaluating? Hazard of the job I suppose. Louise has dressed down; she’s wearing a black trouser suit, a pale green blouse that falls over her waistband and black patent boots. She looks younger, somehow more vulnerable and I’m glad. Then kick myself for thinking that, after all, what she’s wearing shouldn’t have any bearing on the case. She looks at me and smiles. Is that hope I could see in her eyes? It was hope I had in mine. My mouth is dry and my tongue feels like gravel but I mentally force myself to smile, a confident Boots No 7 blemished pink glazed smile.
Another patch of city, another patch of time :
Bill Jones tightened his grip around his wife’s waist as they entered the side room. He mustered what little self-control he had left and forcibly guided her towards the bed. The police officer sensing their despair quickly stood, placed a compassionate hand on Bills shoulder then left them alone. Questions and more importantly answers would come later, now was a time for tears, for comfort, not recriminations. She opened her eyes and felt the salt laden tears burn at her face, she felt her body shudder and convulse as she released the fear and pain stabbing at her chest. “Why, why” she mouthed as she sobbed uncontrollably into her mothers arms. Then darkness…………..
“Local Man Charged with Date Rape”
A local man has been charged with rape in connection with an incident in Sanford.
Paul Snape, 28, from Alamein Road, Sanford, appeared at Linton Magistrates Court yesterday. The case was committed to Swinfield Crown Court (pictured).
The charge relates to an incident on April 25, 2008.
The case has been heavy going. The defence lawyer, 6’3, mid thirties, strikingly handsome and impeccable in both his dress and argument is summing up. One hand rests on the mahogany hand rail in front of the jury the other confidently skims against the waistline of his trousers; a Paul Smith number, black with a faint silver wisp in the pinstripe. He continually gestures towards his client, emphasising the upstanding character and integrity of the accused. He’s in control, revelling in his power. Yet I can’t help but remember the time I caught him in the back of Judge Brown’s chambers, infragranti with the court registrar.
His beautifully starched pinstripe trousers gingerly edged around his knees, it’s a vision that still makes me smile, given the court registrar is a bald headed 60year old called Steve.
I need a bit of light relief; I’m finding it hard to judge the jury’s mood. Number six is a lady mid 60’s, thick rimmed glasses, once a week wash a set brigade, idolises her grandson and can’t remember if she fed the cat this morning. Number eight is heavy set, I’d say late forties with a distinguished silver streak in his hair, plays squash twice a week and shags the bar maid from the golf club while his wife’s at yoga; plus ten other equally random strangers.
As I listen to the end of his closing statement, which I have to say is good, too good. The evidence seems clear, Louise had faltered a bit on the stand but surely that wouldn’t count against her.
His character assassination of Louise has been brutal, a good time girl who drank and flirted her way up the office ladder. A tease who had a grudge against a colleague and all the while I could see Louise shrinking back against the chair, her character been torn apart in front of twelve nameless strangers, not to mention her parents sat in the gallery beyond. She’s sitting hunched over, as if no one can see her, her hands writhing in her lap. She keeps her eyes down too terrified to face her attacker. His genial smile camouflaging a monster. The defence finishes and I slowly stand, fastening the buttons on my tightly tailored two piece as I do. I give myself those last few seconds to prepare and then I begin “Members of the Jury” ….
Another patch of city, another patch of time :
When her boss’s son had been sentenced the other local papers had gone to town. Paul Snape (Senior) was a highly respected Editor and local Councillor, chairman of the Golf club and recently appointed Justice of the Peace. The press had had a field day. Louise had never fully returned to work, although she had tried. Tried to ignore the silences as she entered a room, to ignore the disdain that spread across their faces whenever she walked past. Everything gone in a night, taken away in an instant. Her life had changed beyond recognition, she had moved back home away from the glare of prying eyes. She had slowly regained some sort of acceptance of the past, the mental anguish under lock and key. Occasionally let out in the darkness of her bedroom, the ticking of the alarm clock in time with her heartbeat as she retraces that walk along the cobbled pathway.
As for me, well it’s about eight thirty on a Monday morning, the fourth Monday in January as it happens. The Birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and on this day in 1953, the day Hugh Heffner gave the world that great litery classic, Playboy. I’m wearing my Marks and Sparks’s pink pj’s, the kind with a hundred anorexic sheep thundering over fences. There’s a well worn nicotine patch secreted to my fore arm and I feel great.
Winning the Snape case had been the eye opener I needed. It made me sit up and take stock of what I really wanted, where I wanted to be. Moving out of the city had been the best thing I ever did. Who’d have thought swapping court for running a B & B would have been so right. My fledgling pride and joy, on the edge of the village is an old weaver’s cottage; lime rendered brickwork with a beautiful garden and a trickling brook. And as I lay looking out of my window, I see the view tinged with early morning frost like thin threads of crystal shimmering in the sunlight or a hundred tiny spiders’ webs sewn together, and I can’t help but smile…..