My last murder case
2012-02-25 | 7:39 a.m.
It's so sad to think that in five weeks' time I and all the other stenographers will no longer be working at the Old Bailey. I first stepped foot in that magnificent building roughly five years ago and have worked there full time for more than four years so it's easy to understand why it's been such an enormous part of my life.
I occasionally went through peaks and troughs but overall I never tired of it and would gladly stay there a few more years, given the choice.
Yesterday my jury came back after two long weeks of deliberation in a murder trial wich started at the beginning of December. And what a case it was. One of the defence barristers said he'd never seen anything like it in his 30-year career.
Personally I would have convicted both the male defendants of murder in 10 minutes flat (but I'll take one murder, one manslaughter) and then got stuck on the girl, whose role in it all was to have lured a man to her house, which turned out to lead to his death. Did she have the intent for murder? No. But I thought that the jury would get frightened, not be able to make a decision and end up deadlocked over her, resulting very diappointingly in a retrial.
But by 2 in the afternoon yesterday and with 40 hours of deliberation time behind them they'd made up their minds.
I am always a bit nervy at murder verdicts but felt especially so yesterday. It'd been a long case full of anxiousness. A man had fucking DIED in such a horrendous way: last February being tricked into visiting the girl, who was studying medicine at university, at her student house in Brighton. He thought he was being set up as she'd hated him since he'd attempted to have sex with her the summer before, but he went along anyway and once in her room was jumped on by the girl's male friend and his accomplice. After beating him unconscious and the girl's flatmates being concerned of the noises 'like furniture being moved around' emanating from the basement, the victim was wrapped in the girl's duvet, bundled into the boot of his own car and driven from Brighton to Blackheath in South East London.
Then the most harrowing finale: still in the boot, and with a cable tie around his hands, he had petrol poured over him and was set alight. Although he already had grave injuries to his head, he wasn't fatally wounded when this happened. He died of smoke inhalation whilst he burnt alive. Not a single person in the world can but hope with all their might that he was unconscious when he met this dreadful, despicable end.
Unfortunately we had all the families of the defendants up in the public gallery and when male defendant 1 was convicted of murder his sister couldn't accept the decision and screamed the most blood-curdling howl I have ever heard in my entire life. It was like someone being tortured amplified by 10. We had to halt briefly, some of the jury were distressed and crying, I began shaking and thought I was going to vomit. The poor sister had to be dragged out of the gallery by the police and then receive medical attention.
We continued and the rest of the verdicts were passed. The girl was found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent (punishable with up to life in prison, though she won't get that much) and male defendant 2 with manslaughter. The jury did a good job and most are coming back on Wednesday when each of the guilty will receive their sentence and find out just how irreparably their lives and those of their families will be damaged.
And it will be years, not months.
Three 20-year-olds will be spending their 21st birthdays in prison and denying their families seeing them enter adulthood with the world at their feet. This luxury is taken from them. And rightly so. Since their victim paid with his life accordingly they must, sadly, pay with theirs.
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