Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jury Service - Part Three

Third and final post. Let's start with more about how crappy this place is. I went to the canteen to get a coffee. The machine does it automatically. Coffee. White. You then add in sugar and extra milk if you like.

Three sugars in mine. I take the lid off the milk container to add a little more. A fucking fly flies out. Yeah I'll pass on the milk thanks.

And on Friday i believe it was, when it was raining quite heavily outside, the roof starts leaking in the jury waiting room in a few places. One of the jurors put a bin underneath it haha. What a shock the cleaner is gonna get when she (or he) empties it.

Over the next few days, all three defendants, a senior member of WH security team, as well as 2 policemen involved in the police raid on the flat, took to the stand giving their account of what happened.

A true account of the events was slowly becoming clear to me. Tania had gotten hold of these QuickCash vouchers. How she obtained them, the prosecution wasn't sure. But she had access to the branch keys whilst working there, and possibly had knowledge of the alarm codes. It was suggested she had aided the burglars in their robbery.

But she had a problem. These QuickCash vouchers had to be applied to an online WH account then withdrawn in-store using photographic ID. She contacted Jessica and told her she had won some money gambling online. She told her she was unable to withdraw it as current or ex WH employees are not allowed accounts. She asked her to help her out by making an account under her name (Jessica's) and withdraw the money for her. Tania created the account herself asking Jessica for her details and then asked her to go withdraw it for her.

She did the same with Evelyn. And crucially, Jessica and Evelyn didn't know each other and yet their police interviews matched. There was also a number of circumstantial pieces of evidence that together made the ultimate difference.

As the case was coming to a conclusion, I had a little glance towards the dock and noticed Jessica was rocking to and fro, from stress or anxiety I imagine. She was the youngest of the lot at 20, student and a part-time singer. She had the most to lose from all the defendants.

A friend of Jessica's took the stand to give a character reference and also to support Jessica's claim that she and her knew Tania. Quite a ballsy young lady this one, pointing straight at Tania confirming she knew her. Very confident. At the end of her statement, one of the lawyers asked her if she has ever been arrested.

Jessica's Friend: "Yeah"
Lawyer: "What for?"
Jessica's Friend: "Umm, assaulting a police offer" she mumbled quietly.

Half the courtroom broke out in muffled laughter.

After about 4 hours of deliberation, which i am definitely not allowed to write about, the verdicts were unanimous.

Tania, guilty.
Jessica and Evelyn, not guilty.

As the verdict for Jessica was read out, she screamed YES in delight. So much joy from her and her family. It was quite a satisfying feeling knowing you cleared two peoples names. No reaction from Tania.

The case finished just before lunch time and we all went out separate ways. After lunch back in the waiting room, we all sat together and one guy comes and tells us in his cockney accent...

"You missed out there guys. Jessica's family celebrating in the pub down the road with champagne and everything. I didn't realise. One minute I'm having a pint and the next everyone's hugging me and giving me drinks. It was quite awkward. I only went there for a quiet pint!!!"

One lady mentions she wants to go. Several times. So at the end of the day, two hours later, we thought we'd pop in. It was the most surreal moment in my life. Jessica and her mother went around hugging every one of us about twice each. Her mother in particular was a picture of relief and mentioned that whilst all three defendants had been sitting in the dock together, Tania was making regular threats towards Jessica.

Ultimately, Jessica and Evelyn were very naive in doing favours for Tania involving such large sums of cash (one withdrawal amounted to £4000) and they've learnt a very harsh lesson. A year and a half of the whole affair hanging over them til they were finally cleared.

What amazes me about the trial was how naked the defendants were to everyone in the court. Including their own family. Every possibly relevant detail was exposed. The defendants bank statements and general financial situation. Home address. Phone number. Relationship history. Sexual orientation. Previous arrests. Involvement with drugs. All these things were no longer private. I can't imagine the can of worms some of these details opened up for the defendants and their families. It probably isn't much of an issue with the cleared defendants with the joy and relief of being cleared overwhelming any other feelings. For Tania, who is likely to get a suspended sentence with an electronic tag, things will not be so well.

There were mentions of intimidation and possibly bullying towards Evelyn whilst they lived together. I don't think she'll feel safe for a long while as it didn't seem like she had the same level of support from friends and family behind her as Jessica did.

No comments:

Post a Comment