On to waiting for the verdict (again) the wait seemed endless, I jumped everytime my phone beeped, how is anyone meant to carry on normal life like this ?
We were now in the second week. Monday afternoon, the detective rang. The jury would be sent out tomorrow morning. Because he hadn’t been convicted of anything in THIS country (he had a previous conviction relating to drugs in Brazil https://www.independent.co.uk/news/how-drug-gangs-dupe-mule-girls-1254783.html) it was likely that IF found guilty, he would be sentenced at the same time. I didn’t want to be there for the verdict. But I DID want to be there at sentencing. I didn’t want to see him until I KNEW he was going to prison. The only way to be there for the sentencing would be to wait at court.
The police arranged a car to pick me up in the morning, and I called my mum and sisters to see if they could come with me. My mum wanted to be there too. My sister arranged to come down from another part of the country. My older sister couldn’t be there; she had just started a new job. My husband frantically arranged time off work. He couldn’t come tomorrow but could be around the next day if we were still waiting. M (my ISVA) was off sick, and there was no-one else who could be there. J (from Victim Support) would be there. I didn’t know how to feel. I just knew the wait would kill me. I needed a distraction. I decided to buy some wool. I had gone through a spell of knitting when I was a teenager. I hadn’t done it since. Mum had the knitting needles; I asked her to bring her chunkiest needles and I went on search of the chunkiest wool. I went to Hobbycraft, and came back with three balls of wool. One for me, one for my mum, and one for my sister. We didn’t know whether security would the knitting needles in, but we would find out in the morning.
Trying to sleep knowing that judgement day was coming was hard. But it could be days before we knew the outcome, and whatever happened I had tried. I had tried and he hadn’t gotten away with it, he had been dragged into court, and had to listen to everything he put us through. I knew we had been through it twice, but so had he. He had lost weight apparently. He wasn’t so cocky. Good. I’m glad it was harrowing for him. Because it was the very least he deserved. Two trials and a few weeks of hell was nothing compared to the years of torment he had put me through. He would never have empathy for me. But I was glad he was suffering. Whatever happened, whatever the verdict. I had put him through that.
The car came in the morning and we drove to court. I felt sick. We got to court. I had so many bottles of water, some for all of us. At security I had to have a sip of each one. I put my bags through the X-ray machine, and my shoes, walked through the X-ray frame and was scanned and patted down. We all went through this process and then went to the larger witness room upstairs. The detective came in. She asked if we wanted to see the list of charges. We could do that now. It was hard seeing it in black and white. I could see that despite not being charged with everything he did to me, he had been charged with those offences against others. I saw that some of the offences were in 2005. I knew that if convicted he would face tougher sentencing. The 2003 sexual offences act is clear, it sets out specific sexual acts as crimes and gives harsher sentences than ever came before. It was hard to watch my mum and sister look at this too. It was the first time they had seen in black and what what he did. The first time they knew the details.
I needed a distraction. Out came the wool, mum caste on for me, and off I started. I needed to think about what I was doing. It didn’t come naturally to me. It was just what I needed. We waited for 10am. That is when court starts.
The detective had managed to secure a private room downstairs, so we decamped there. J arrived. I introduced her to my mum and sister. The detective, my mum and my sister, J and I sat and we waited. We chatted, and every time an announcement came over the tannoy we stopped, this could be it. It wasn’t. I knitted and knitted. People kept on popping in, ushers, witness services. Each time commenting on my knitting. I was knitting a scarf. I decided it was going to be my justice scarf. Whatever happened. We were stuck in that room. Now he was no longer in the dock, he was wandering around up there. Every time we needed the toilet, the detective would go and check the coast was clear. It didn’t seem fair that he would walk about and do what he pleased whilst we were stuck in a small room. It was so hot in there. The windows wouldn’t open. I guess that would be a security risk. As time went on, it became clear we weren’t going to get a verdict today. What was taking so long? Surely it was obvious? Although I kept on being reassured; this is a good sign, they are being thorough. There is a lot of evidence for them to review. So return transport was arranged. We would be back the next day.
So the process began again, transport to court, through security, and off to our little room. This time my husband could be there. Even more people in a tiny hot room. I knitted and knitted and knitted. We were able to ask questions that we hadn’t been able to ask before; there would be no third trial. How did they find him? How did they find the others? She told us some of the evidence against him. It was damning. How did the first jury not see it? She told us that one of his character witnesses had stood up and said “he’s a really good guy, he’s really good with my girls. He takes them to the theatre…”. That sent a chill down my spine. He is still doing it. What if he is found not guilty? He is going to carry on. He is 72 and STILL DOING IT. I felt sick. I was terrified. What if the jury get it wrong? Who is going to protect those girls. I felt so angry, that first jury, and his defence, ENABLED him to carry on offending. This really upped the stakes. It wasn’t just about me, and the others. It was about those children he had worked his way into their lives. It was about stopping him for good.
We waited and waited. Would the judge take a majority verdict? That is what they had tried to go for last time.
The judge for for lunch between 1-2 every day. So nothing is happening during that time. After lunch, two jurors were missing. We waited and waited. Nothing could happen without them. Eventually they were found and deliberation began again. As time went on, transport was arranged. It was clear that no decision would be made today. My scarf was getting longer and longer. Ushers, our barrister and witness services couldn’t believe how long it was. And that I had only begun knitting when deliberations had begun.
As we left for the second day, they commented, see you and your scarf tomorrow.
So now it was Thursday. We all trooped in. We knew the drill. We sat and we waited. There was a problem. A member of the jury hadn’t turned up. This wasn’t like them. They were reliable. Nothing could happen without them. The wait just became even more painful. The judge could have asked the police to do a welfare check. He didn’t. We would wait until midday and then he would decide what to. The options were:
– discharge the juror and carry on as 11
– dismiss the jury and hope he arrives the following day.
This would mean even more waiting. There was due to be heavy snow overnight. What if we couldn’t get there? Or they couldn’t? Then we heard another juror couldn’t come in the next day as they were attending a funeral. This meant, if he hung on for the juror, we could have to wait over the weekend, and it would go into a third week.
The detective was called into court. The judge had decided. He discharged the juror. They would carry on as 11. At 12:30 he sent them off to deliberate. He went for lunch half an hour later. Nothing would happen for the next hour. Although the jury could at least deliberate.
My scarf was so long by now. I decided I was going to put Pom-Poms on the end. Whatever happened my scarf could keep me warm. A physical reminder of the strength I had found to face him.
At 2:30 the call came; all parties to court 2. This might not be the verdicts, the detective said. It could be the judge deciding a he would take a majority. I hadn’t wanted to be there for the verdict. I then decided I would wait near by. The detective would email to say if there were any guilty verdicts and then I would go in. My sister said, “I’ve been waiting all this time, I’m going to go in.” If she was going in, I was going in too.
The detective went off to court. We sat there, refreshing emails every couple of seconds. Then suddenly the email comes. It has one word….
We knew we had a long wait ahead of us. We had newspapers, books, knitting to pass the time and so much water – we had all bought bottles of water, great idea but when you get to security and you have to to a swig out of about 9 bottles it gets a bit silly!
We then began the most agonising 3 days of my life as I waited in a tiny waiting room which was hotter than hell with my sister, my mum, my sister’s advocate from victim support, my brother in law & the Detective Constable. And we were pretty much stuck in that room. He was there at court, free to walk around, to sit in the canteen, walk outside but we couldn’t. We were accompanied everywhere, ferried to the toilet by the DC to make sure we didn’t bump into him or any of his family members.
Whilst we waited my sister knitted. I tried to knit. I knitted a few rows, unpicked them and started again but I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I was too jumpy. By the end of the week I wasn’t taking anything in to do I couldn’t do anything but wait, I was so on edge. What was taking so long?
We sat with the DC and witness support and talked rubbish for 3 days, we compared labour stories and family histories just trying to stop ourselves from second guessing what was going on in the deliberation room. We had said at the start we wouldn’t listen to the verdicts but halfway through day 2 I thought, fuck it, I’m here, I’m going to go in. My sister said if I was she would too.
Finally after a bumpy start on the Thursday, all parties in the case were called back into court. We’re the jury back? The DC said she’d let us know what was happening.
She emailed us. VERDICTS! My sister and I just grabbed our stuff and ran.