Thursday, 25 September 2008

MY CASE (5) THE NICE GIRL WITNESS

The second witness for the prosecution was a young support teacher who was in the class with our teacher when all this kicked off. In this sort of special school -each class must have two teachers present.

Her evidence was that our teacher did not handle the situation in accordance with the restraining method of “Team-Teach”, which gives instructions on how to deal with unruly kids.

Her evidence was that:

-He grabbed him (the boy) around the back of the neck (not allowed by “Team Teach”);
-Threw him out of the classroom in a very violent and dangerous manner;
-Continued to abuse the boy outside of the classroom.

She got into the witness box.

Trouble was – she was such a nice ordinary girl – one who commands the sympathy of decent folk i.e. the jury. Her manner was hesitant, a little timid, but nonetheless forthright.

No point laying into her – the jury would hate me and be embarrassed for her. Best I could do was to lay some incendiary devices and detonate them later in my closing speech.

So I ask her some questions:

Grabbing boy by the back of the neck

“Was the boy violent and aggressive?”


“Yes - he was dreadful.”


“Were you frightened?”

“Not frightened but concerned for the other boys in the class.”

“They need protecting and important to get him out of the classroom?”

“Yes, very important.”

“The safety of the others was a priority?”


“Yes” (DEVICE PLANTED)

It all happened so quickly?”

“Yes”

“To operate perfectly within Team Teach, can be very difficult, with such an aggressive violent boy? We can’t expect teachers to get it 100% perfect.”

“No, it’s not easy
” (DEVICE PLANTED)


Threw him out of the classroom in a very violent and dangerous manner

“Why didn’t you help Mr Jones (our teacher – not real name) in dealing with the boy?”

“I had to control the other boys.”


“Quite rightly, and you had a major task to contend with? Could have got out of hand very quickly?”

“Yes, very easily”.

“Had to focus on the other boys?”

“Yes”

“Watching them was important at that time?”

“Yes – I was worried what might happen.”

“More focused on them than what was happening between Mr Jones and the boy?”

“I had to be”
(DEVICE PLANTED)

“You didn’t see the boy being picked up and hurled out of the room did you?”

“No but I saw him lying on the floor outside as if he had been pushed”

“As if he’d been pushed. So you didn’t see him being thrown or pushed out of the room?”

“No – but its obvious he had been pushed”
(DEVICE PLANTED)

“Given the general mayhem and his aggression he could have fallen over by accident?”

“It’s possible.”
(DEVICE PLANTED)



Continued to abuse the boy outside of the classroom

You stayed in the classroom to protect the other boys?”

“Yes”

“Didn’t venture out?”

“No – I had to keep the boys in the classroom”
(DEVICE PLANTED)

“And there was lots of yelling outside?”

“Yes”

“The boy and Mr Jones?”


“Yes – and others”

“So – lots of voices – all a bit confusing?”

“Yes”
(DEVICE PLANTED)

“You didn’t see Mr Jones abuse the boy, verbally or physically because you were in the classroom focused on the other boys.”

“No I didn’t – but I was told about it.”

“Who told you?”


“The Headmaster.”

“I wont ask you what he said, but you personally didn’t see what went on outside?”

“No”
(DEVICE PLANTED)

I thought she was a well-meaning teacher but had been subjected to a little persuasion. I was very content with how her evidence went and she was non-the wiser – I had not attacked her – called her a liar – or tried to wreck her story.

It required stealth.

SMALL INTERLUDE FROM MY CASE

I haven’t seen knuckles since our encounter in the car park – he never had much to say anyway.

But I did see fat geezer:

During the lunch break I spotted him in a park near to the court; sitting on a bench – doing nothing much. I was sure it was him – so I thought:

Give him a bit of surrealist cognition.

I am not going to pursue a charge for the punch but I do want to disturb the idiot....freak him out a bit.

So drawing on dialogue from “HUNGER” by Knut Hamsun, which I often do in situations like this, I bound up to him, and with an entirely manic expression on my face I say:

“Hey it’s Mr Happolati from St Olaf Place.”

He looks at me bewildered.

“Wow...it is Mr Happolati….how are you after all this time? How are things with you? How are tricks? How’s life with you?”

Suddenly – he twigs – realises who it is (me-with cut eye) and starts to rise up, looking very disturbed.

So I say “Mr Happolati I see you are losing your book.”

He’s looking confused and moves away.

“Mr Happolati let’s chat…. don’t go ...it’s there on CCTV…all of it…Mr Happolati….. it’s all there….on CCTV……Mr Happolati……you are losing your book…”

By this time he’s virtually running away from me. So I run after him a little way shouting “Mr Happolati ……..Mr Happolati…your book……come back…you are losing your book.”

P Club - I know – it’s entirely weird. But that’s how I like it.

Doubt that I’ll see him again.

BACK TO OUR CASE

Thursday, 18 September 2008

MY CASE (4) WITH KNUCKLES

What was slightly surprising about this case was what occurred on the way to my car after the excitement of day one in the court. Never happened to me before or since.

Very much a one off - so not going to make a very big fuss of it - just one of those things.

This case was in a city with a port – a large city – a rough-house sort of place - a great city for being a defence barrister (so they say) as most of the jury are criminals themselves and are likely to be sympathetic to fellow crims (so they say). I don’t believe a word of it myself. But this place is not the sort of place, which attracts the finer elements of society.

Anyway – there I am walking back to my car in the deserted multi story when two oiks walk out of the shadows. One youth – short hair – tattoos (I know – just a typical British youth) – the other was older – fat geezer.

Gawd this sounds clich├ęd.

Old geezer goes:

“You’d better not get that f****** paedo off....”


So I says:

“Sorry – who are you again?”

Old Geezer goes:

“Never mind that – you get that f***** off and we’re going to f****** hammer you…and him….”


So I says:

“Well that’s something to look forward to.”

So next thing – youth with the knuckles punches me in the face.

Catches me above my left eye – I wasn’t expecting it – but if you’re going to be a smart-arse then its best to either get your retaliation in first or run.

Anyway – I just legged it – all the way back to my car.

They didn’t follow me. I don’t know who the hell they were – and I have never troubled myself to find out.

No point fighting back – can you imagine the headlines:

“Barrister for accused teacher, assaults family of child in car park” (Presuming - that's who they were...but I don't know).

Not a case winner.

So the next day in court – I appear with a nasty cut above my eye (I had a bit of scar-tissue there – and it ripped open) and bruising all around it. I could see the judge eyeing me suspiciously – but the jury seemed amused.

Being British nothing was said and we

JUST CARRIED ON

No - I havent pressed charges - and not going to either - what's the bleedin' point.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

MY CASE (3)

So the Prosecution call 3 witnesses: two who saw what happened plus the headmaster who saw bugger all.

However, P had to first deal with a problem: the Crown tried to bring in a witness statement from a teacher saying that our Teacher had roughed up kids before. So this was an issue for the Judge as P reckoned that this was “bad character” evidence by the back door. None of it was proven, he was never charged and in any case it was total bollocks. So we had more legal argument.

The Judge refused to allow it on the basis that it was utter krap – He didn’t quite use those words but I know that he was itching to.

First witness for the Crown

He says he saw our Teacher lift the boy up by his shoulders and throw him 15 feet onto his back – just outside the classroom.

He says he saw our teacher run up to the boy as he was lying on the floor in a foetal position and go as if to kick him. The teacher had a very angry expression when he did this.

So – he gets in the witness box.

I could tell that he was old school and arrogant – obviously didn’t like our teacher and more importantly didn’t like Mr Pineapples.

Mr P has a bit of a London accent – a bit of a cockney – born within the sound of Bow Bells.

He’s thinking: who the bloody hell is this so-called barrister?
He’s not one of us – no public education - no Eton, Harrow or Oxbridge;
He’s a barrister by dint of primitive animal cunning;
Sponsored through Bar school by the Kray Twins or Mad Frankie Frazer.

So – I lay the accent on a bit thicker – he gets prickly – and defensive.

I suggest that his witness statement is full of errors, wrong and incomplete – which he denies and with a sad shake of his head assures the court that his statement is 100% accurate.

This is GREAT – because P has noticed a typing error: instead of saying he was 20 yards from the scene – the statement says – 200 yards from the scene. This must mean he was standing as far away as the school car park.

This is impossible.

But he wasn’t prepared to admit an error to this cockney wide-boy and when I read the statement he did not correct the 200 yards cock-up – he had dug himself self into a hole and wasn’t prepared to eat humble pie to get out.

So far so good.

Hurling the boy through the air

He then assures us that the boy was picked up and hurled backwards through the air (his words) – so P says that the boy is 5’ 5” and 10 ½ stone – the teacher is 5’ 8” and 11 stone. Strangely the boy was gripped by his shoulders.

Were you surprised by this Herculean feat of strength?”

No – not at all” he says.

I could see that the jury were.

Any injuries to the back of his head?”

No

Bit surprising?”

No, not really


The pretend kick

“The boy was in a foetal position and wouldn’t have seen the kick?”

“Oh he saw it alright”

"But the boy had his hands over his head in a foetal position?"

"He could see alright."

“How do you know?”

He must have

“But you were 200 yards away weren’t you and not close enough to see anything?”

“I could see what was going on”

“He wasn’t kicked was he?”

“No”

“So all of this is irrelevant isn’t it?

SILENCE


The Angry Face

“Would you be angry if you’d been called “wanker” “c***” and “fudge packer”.

No”

“Kicked in the testicles and punched in the face?”

“No”


Why not?”

“I am a better teacher – we can’t allow ourselves to get upset by these things.”

“Perhaps a tad inconvenienced?”

“No”



This was the Crown's Star Witness.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

MY CASE (2)

And on we go....

The boy himself had given a statement about what had happened. The statement had been taken by the headmaster one hour after the event.

Good evidence?

Damn - YES.

But the Prosecution had not disclosed it.

Can you believe that? It was so obvious that they just wanted to nail this teacher – a man of impeccable character – no previous convictions for anything – a guy doing a difficult job – in a very difficult school. And they were hell bent on jailing the poor bugger – fair means or foul.

The boy’s statement was tucked away in a list of Undisclosed Information – hidden from view.

P had to request to see it and low and behold it basically supported the teacher’s version of events: the boy admits to kicking off – whacking a kid – trashing the room – hitting the teacher – cursing, screaming and yelling – also that the teacher bundled him out of the room – he fell over by accident and broke his wrist and collarbone.

"It was an accident." The boy said so himself - a 15 year old - the victim without any mental illness said so.

Of course he says that the teacher provoked him and that he should not have been manhandled in this way. But what the heck.

So – I says to the Judge “Your Honour – this witness statement should be adduced as evidence as it gives the “victim’s” full account of what happened.”

And the Prosecution objects; they say that the boy’s evidence is unreliable because he is such an unruly child and in the interest of justice it would not be right to reveal it to the jury.

Well bloody hell – 50% of witnesses in British Courts are unruly and unreliable – but that doesn’t automatically disbar them from giving evidence.

So the jury goes out and we have a full-scale legal argument in front of the Judge, who has to decide whether to admit this crucial piece of evidence.

P is forced to bring a “Hearsay Application” on the basis that the boy is indeed unable to come to Court (because he certainly would not turn up), and if he did he probably would throw a tantrum and leg it from the dock. In the interests of Justice - it should be allowed as evidence.

P stated that the Prosecution’s reason for excluding this evidence was farcical and disingenuous. If the statement had supported their case they would have exhibited it as their main line evidence….in the blink of an eye.

The Judge agreed with me, and so in went the boy’s witness statement, which was to be read to the jury.

But P Club…..look how keen the Prosecution were to nail this teacher.

Can someone explain this to me.....from a sociological point of view?

TO BE CONTINUED

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

MY CASE

I hate the Law.....honest-ta-Gawd - it's getting on my knockers - it really is..

Being a Barrister is just no good anymore – why don’t I get a proper bleedin’ Job?

This week I have had two cases adjourned – yesterday because the Court had listed 3 cases on the same day and took 5 hours to decide what to do – whilst I sat with my lunatic client discussing football and the evils of the Police; today – the defendant wasn’t sure that she was insured for the Court case and my clients couldn’t guarantee that they would receive damages if they won.

So – P got sent home.

What bollocks is this?

Still – let me tell you about a case I completed recently. I think we need a big debate at P Club – something to get our brain cells jigging it.

Most of my clients are either mad (paranoid schizophrenia is the catch-phrase) or basically bad (plain evil). However, I do chase some serious Crims around the globe, which is quite satisfying. I detest those who rob and defraud big sums of money whilst setting up family members to take the Can if it all goes pear-shaped.

Check out The Proceeds of Crime Act (and shiver with fear)

But P Club – listen to the following little tale – and P will do it in parts. It’s not jam-packed with gore or action or intrigue – but it does say a lot about our society.

You will not be titillated or thrilled – but I hope my little case will engender a major philosophical debate.

MY CASE

Our teacher had been charged with ABH (Actual Bodily Harm) against a pupil. A very serious matter –suspended immediately and had been sitting at home, fretting his heart away for 9 months; facing a prison sentence – and the end of his career.

He was bricking it.

So along comes The P.

Our Scenario:

Our teacher – teaching in a special school for emotionally disturbed and behaviourally “challenged” kids – those the State Schools couldn’t deal with. Coop them all up under one roof – let them smoke – swear – fight – and live it up. Give them lots of rope – few rules – many privileges.

Teacher teaching one day in the class. Door smacks open mid lesson and in runs behaviourally “challenged” kid – kid smacks a kid in the face –spits in the face of another kid and calls the teacher:

“Wanker” – “fudge packer” and “c***”. (What is a “fudge packer”?)

Why did he do this? What's his game eh? Why so naughty?

Dunno – nobody knows – but he is emotionally disturbed and “challenged” – so with that label he has to dish out a bit of shit now and again – just to keep it all going.

Our teacher tries to protect the other kids – bundles nutty kid out of the room – nutty kid punches teacher in the face and knees him in the bollocks. A computer goes flying - and two other kids kick off.

Mayhem - screaming and yelling -

As kid is bundled out he falls into the courtyard outside the class – lands badly breaking his wrist and collarbone.

ABH.

Police are called and our teacher is charged with a serious crime.

This is P’s case.

Quite straightforward as ABH’s go – but the psychology was truly complicated (As we will discover).

What-cha-think so far P Club?

TO BE CONTINUED

Sunday, 7 September 2008

THIS RAIN IS DOING MY HEAD IN

The Summer has gone.

Strange that

I can't recall it ever arriving.

Anyway - what's with this constant bleedin' rain? Is this the global warming effect?

Yesterday - me and kid Pineapple played a game of tennis in torrential rain. It never let up the whole time. Every time I served - the rain poured into my eyes and the ball skidded along the ground as if on ice.

It was quite a laugh really, and I appreciate that we did look like a pair of lunatics. One old bloke (me) and a young bloke (kid P) running around in deep puddles chopping at a sodden ball.

But By Gawd - we are British after all - and a few torrential downpours wont defeat us.

The little monkey beat me.

Still - there are folks suffering floods - and a few drops of rain at tennis is nothing in comparison.