Jury Service: the second case

We’ve been piling around the country (well, driving down the M4 and back, over and over again) playing fun shows and muddy festivals, trying to get back in the swing of being a music-maker after the distraction of jury service. Tougher than I expected though.

The second case was two men charged with intent to supply heroin. They were caught in a car on Morley Street, just up from the Ocean Rooms, with some hefty bags of smack and both pleaded (pled?) not guilty, running what’s called a ‘cutthroat defence’, where their lawyers each tried to blame the other.

Ginger said he’d just been trying to buy pot for personal use from a guy he’d met in the pub – and the 55g bag of heroin in his (borrowed) car must have been put there by mistake by Baldy, from whom he’d wanted to buy 1oz of skunk. Baldy, a self-confessed long-standing heroin addict, gave a silent police interview but in court said he’d bought the heroin in his bag from Ginger for personal use, after winning a load of money at the bookies.

Before we started, the prosecution certainly felt Baldy – who faced five charges – was the heavyweight. They’d incorporated an earlier house raid involving Baldy, which took place at a flat up near Seven Dials, so he seemed in deep. Ginger only faced a single charge, although it was the biggie of intent to supply a Class A.

From the start, Baldy’s defence team pulled some superb tricks. The best of these was when a police intelligence officer on the witness stand was made to open up one of Ginger’s two mobile phones – supposedly already examined by everyone – where he found, live in court, a dealer’s tick list on a bit of paper underneath the battery. Everyone was shocked and the officer was stung with embarrassment. It drastically undermined Ginger’s defence.

The CPS investigation was littered with weaknesses and Baldy’s barrister (by the name of Sharkey) ate it up. For example, coppers mis-weighed the grass found on Baldy, called it 1oz and used that as the basis of a charge for intent to supply Class C. It turned out to be much, much less grass – they’d included all the plastic wrapping in the weigh! At this point the judge threw out two of five charges against Baldy, reducing ‘possession with intent to supply Class C’ to a simple possession (to which Baldy pleaded guilty). This left the prosecution to redirect their case with the deal going in the other direction. The most serious charge (Class A with intent) remained against both guys.

Baldy spent almost two days on the stand and held up startlingly well under aggressive cross-examination from Ginger’s barrister Walker, as well as the alcoholically-nosed CPS dude. Over and over again Baldy’d state something, be accused of lying, then evidence would show he’d been telling the truth all along.

His involvement in the earlier bust was trashed because he was attending rehab and clean at the time (though he relapsed badly later), plus he was legally obliged to live in the dodgy flat in question (home to another heavy addict and probable dealer) thanks to an earlier court order.  

Baldy produced handwritten winning betting slips to account for his wealth that day. The prosecution showed that he’d just written on blank slips and accused him of lying about the money. But his defence got Ladbrokes in and proved the exact bets on the slips had been made – and then even managed to get a police officer to admit that Baldy had mentioned to him which betting shops he’d been to – showing that they should have investigated earlier.

Then Ginger decided not to take the stand. His police interview had been trollied – for a start he’d known Baldy a lot longer than he admitted – and the tick list in his phone and the nature of a lot of his calls and texts was damning stuff.

We couldn’t reach a unanimous decision though. I’m not allowed to write anything about what happened in the jury room but after some hours, the judge asked for a majority decision of at least 10-2 on each count. Then we quickly found Baldy not guilty of intent on a Class A. There simply wasn’t enough evidence to disprove his claim of personal use and the amount was borderline. We found him guilty (unanimously) on simple possession of Class A. We found him not guilty of possession from the earlier bust. And we found Ginger guilty on his one count of possession of Class A with intent.

When the verdict was read out, Ginger attacked Baldy in the dock, smacking him down and kicking him in the face until the police officer guarding them dived into the fray. Ginger’s girl collapsed in hysterics, shrieking that he was innocent, while people on both sides in the public gallery screamed at each-other. Security guards ran in and leapt into the action, as the judge cleared the court. As the public gallery was led out, someone said to someone: “That’s what you get for being a grass.”

If that sounds quite normal for court because of TV, one usher said he’d been there for 15 years and never witnessed a beating in court before. We got taken out, held for a few minutes til the coast was clear and then let out of the court building the back way.


One response to “Jury Service: the second case

  1. 2 ounces of smack is a hell of a lot!! I suppose if I was a smackhead and had the money I would probably want to stock up too, although if it was for personal usegetting arrested may actually have saved his life, as presumably with that much gear getting over enthusiastic about it all is probably quite easy to do.

    Sounds extremely interesting though – much more like the picture in my head of what jury duty should be like

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