Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Rough Justice

It was the day for Mr. McCarthy's trial. He was up for some bits of nonsense involving an unlicensed and uninsured car, and some odds and ends of theft, carried out with his customary incompetence, thus ensuring his rapid return to a cell - an environment with which he has become very familiar over the last two decades. He had managed to convince himself that he was the victim of a police conspiracy on this one, so he had gone Not Guilty. Given his previous record I and my colleagues (for he spends almost as much time at the court as I do, me upstairs, him down in the cells) had kept him in custody, given the near-certainty of his offending on bail. He was brought up by the jailers, and gave me a wary nod of recognition.

The CPS prosecutor stood up. I could see from her demeanour that she knew she was in big trouble, and was going to try to brass it out. "Sir, I regret that I am obliged to ask for an adjournment this morning.........." She went on to relate a tale of woe that led to the fact that all but one of her witnesses were not present. She started to explain why, but at least had the decency to look ashamed as she did so. I had my Sunday-best sceptical look on, and looked across to the defence brief, who clambered to his feet and opposed the application. We stopped him a little way into his speech and suggested that we had heard enough. He took the hint and sat down.

A whispered consultation on the bench. "this application has no merit, and we will not adjourn this case". CPS bows to the inevitable, and offers no evidence. I tell Mr.McCarthy that all charges are dismissed, and that he will be released, thinking as I do so that a swift investment in Guinness shares might pay off in the short term.

Justice? Cock-up? Well both, actually. He was probably guilty, and the CPS' failure allowed the case to collapse. But he had spent eight weeks inside on remand, which is the equivalent of a four month sentence. If we had allowed the adjournment he might easily have served another six weeks while the CPS rounded up its witnesses, so in a rough old way, justice was served.

Don't quote me on that will you?

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