These days I mostly do court reporting – I turn up at various magistrates’ courts around the East Midlands and I ‘see what the cat has dragged in’.
It’s a weird experience, sitting in magistrates.
There’s the notion of court . . . the expectation. If you’re not used to it you sort of expect Rumpole of the Bailey; oak-panelled decor, people in wigs and gowns, a stern-looking judge wearing a red cloak.
In fairness, that’s how it was for the Wycherley trial . . . when Susan and Christopher Edwards’ version of events was put under the microscope, pulled apart and rejected.
But magistrates’ courts are a wholly different entity.
You do get some really serious stuff go through them. Any case has to go there first. A murder case goes there first . . . so Susan and Christopher Edwards made their first court appearnce, following their arrest, at Nottingham Magistrates. The case was then sent immediately to Nottingham Crown Court, where the really serious stuff is tried.
A few weeks ago, there was an alleged double murder in a Derbyshire village, and I went to that – not that you can report much, because as soon as a case is ‘active’ you can’t write anything that could potentially prejudice a jury.
But, by and large, you would not believe what the cat has dragged in.
In the past few weeks, I’ve covered a couple of homeless women who went on a festive shopping spree with a stolen credit card, a bloke who threatened to kill a bouncer for not letting him into a club because he was wearing ‘trackies’, a senior judge accused of assaulting a couple of hunt sab’s, a bloke who lost it with his girlfriend and repeatedly jumped up and down on her new car, causing more than £7,000 worth of damage, and a bloke whose Alsations got out and bit a bloke walking home from work.
My all time favourite, in my log career, was the bloke who stole a bus from a depot in Mansfield, drove it to the bus station and picked up all of his mates, abandoned it on an A Road about six miles away and walked home.
Half an hour later the police were knocking on his front door and he demanded to know how they had found him.
“It’s snowing, you tw@1,” they had replied. “We just followed your footprints.”
This all costs the public purse a lot of money, and is largely the result of poverty, drugs and alcohol . . . I get that.
But there is a large part of you that thinks, “You did fcuking what?” Criminal masterminds, they are not.
I’ll be back to the Wycherleys proper in my next post. Just been stuck in magistrates court all day and needed to get it off my chest.