This has been taken from a friend of mine who found out what British Justice is all about. I appologise to him as I was one of those who said Stand Up For Your Rights.
How I became a Criminal
A Chapter from the forthcoming “Best seller”
“YOU ARE ONLY HERE ONCE!”
My Memoirs – By Gary Roberston
I will try to tell the “whole” story, so that you have as much information, to hand, as possible. Then you can decide for yourself, what I am actually “Guilty”, of.
Saturday 21 June 2008 – It was the “stag day” for Carl, a long time, very good friend, sort of “extended family”. It was 2 more weeks until the wedding, at which, I had a very special service to perform. Not only was I doing “the reading”,(Karen had helped me out with a couple of verse’s from 1 Corinthians 13 – perfect I thought – Not so the vicar though – “Oh no” he thought the whole chapter would be much better- that way he didn’t have to do a reading. – “Oh great!”), but, I had also agreed to sing! Luckily I’d asked Louisa to sing with me and she is brilliant, so however bad I was going to be, with her singing and Russell playing, things wouldn’t be that bad and in fact, it wasn’t. Anyway, I digress, back to my little story.
The day started with about 10 of us go-karting at Q-leisure in Hassocks, a wonderful time was had by all. Hey, I can still compete with the youngsters, not only did I make the final, I managed to finish 5 places higher than I qualified and my lap times weren’t that bad and my opposition were all hardened Motocross riders at least 20 years my junior and 4 or 5 stone my inferior. Anyway, we raced, drank a bit and returned home at approx 13.30hrs. We then all had afternoon naps, a snack, got “spruced up” and left home again at approximately 19.00hrs.
My wife, Minnie, took two “car loads” of us to the “The Hub” on the Sainsbury’s gyratory where we met with the rest of the “attendee’s” and the Stag evening commenced in earnest. The construction of the group was The Stag (groom) Carl his 3 brothers, my Son – Brett (who will pop up in the story later) My Daughters boyfriend Rupert and about 8 other friends – the age range was between 19 and 28 with me at 47 being the “adult”. After a couple of games of pool we moved on down the Lewes Road via the kebab shop and a couple of pubs to Horatio’s bar on the Brighton pier, a couple of fairground rides, Karaoke songs and a fair few drinks later, we found ourselves in “TRU” the night club on West Street at approximately 00.30 on Sunday 22 June.
On Arriving at “TRU” there were only four of the original party left; Myself, Brett, Rupert, his friend Lewis, at this point we met up with my daughter Roz. The “party” continued in “good spirits” until approximately 02.25hrs.
Roz found me outside in the smoking area and told me that Brett had been “beaten up, by 3 blokes” and was going. We immediately proceeded to leave the club and I found Brett outside the front door with a seeping cut on his eyebrow, we walked to the opposite side of the road, towards the West Street taxi rank, where as we got to the centre of the road, 3 taxis’s pulled up together. Brett and I proceeded to jump straight into the first (London) taxi as he stopped, where I tried to look at my son’s eye, ascertain whether we needed to visit the hospital and ask him what had happened. After fastening my seat belt and starting to question him, we realised, (as the others had not properly got into the taxi) that the people standing on the pavement were in fact in an orderly queue awaiting taxis. I had no idea there was a queue as everything was happening in such a hurry and we had not even reached the other side of the road when we hopped in. My son then left the taxi first, as I made a comment along the lines of “I’ve only just got comfortable”, then removed my seat belt and alighted the taxi in order to apologise to the driver and the waiting queue. At this point, as I was stepping out of the taxi in a stooped position I was pulled by my arm and then pushed with 2 hands squarely in my chest. I didn’t even have time to see my “assailant” as I had not actually stood up properly yet. Being of fairly a substantial stature I didn’t move very far and immediately reacted with a two handed push back against the person who had pushed me. (I think the push I gave was of a similar strength to the one I received – a bit like gravity, with a force being equal and opposite to the one applied) At this point I was surrounded by uniformed Police officers and realising the situation, I immediately put my arms out horizontally at my sides and stated quite clearly “I am not resisting, I am not resisting” when two officers had an arm each, my arms were forced behind my back and I was bent over the bonnet of the taxi and someone handcuffed me. During this, I could hear shouting going on, as my son and daughter were protesting our innocence of anything (other than attempted queue jumping). On seeing the treatment given to me, my son, who was already injured from his previous encounter, decided to push his way toward me and was jumped upon by several officers, treated very roughly, arrested and taken away. (He was subsequently given an “On the spot” instant fine for being “dunk and disorderly” the following day on his release from the Brighton holding cells). When I was allowed to stand from the bonnet of the taxi, I was taken to the entrance of the Oak hotel and stood facing the wall. At this point, my daughter came to see me and told me what was happening with my son. I then shouted out “Who is the tall bloke in the white shirt” as this was all I could recall of my assailant. A voice from beyond replied “I am Inspector B—s, the only inspector here”. I then replied “Why did you push me”. I was then, after a further 5 minutes or so, taken around the corner and put into a Police car with 3 officers and taken to the “Hollingbury” Police cells. I remember thinking at this point, “Why are you wasting your time taking me in? They will let me go later, anyway! – Probably with an apology! And why, 3 Police Officers? I’m a 47 year old respectable man, being well behaved and I haven’t done anything wrong! Surely you will need these Officers if any real trouble starts!”
On arrival at the cells I was stood in front of a Desk Sergeant and formally “arrested” for assaulting a Police officer and criminal damage. Both of these charges were, I must admit, an absolute surprise to me as, other than mistakenly “queue jumping” and shoving someone back who had shoved me, I really had done nothing wrong. (The criminal damage charge, apparently related to the taxi, I can only imagine something to do with the way I was hauled over the bonnet)
Following a night in the cells, I was finally fingerprinted and interviewed at approximately 13.00 on Sunday. I declined a solicitor at this point as I was convinced that it was all a “big mistake” and that I would be set free as soon as the facts were known. During my interview, the interviewing officer asked me what I expected to happen next. I replied “I suppose an apology will be out of the question – If he apologises to me I will apologise to him” He replied “What you have said is exactly what is in the inspector’s statement – he is a decent chap and I am sure that will be the case. Wait here a minute I am just going up stairs to see someone”. The officer then returned about 5 minutes later to say that he had cleared it upstairs and I could go now, only, I would have to be bailed to return, as there was a question of criminal damage still outstanding. On returning to the desk Sergeant, I was clearly told that I was bailed to appear at the police station later, relating to the “criminal damage” and that the charge of Assaulting a Police officer had been dropped – this was confirmed by the bail sheet given to me. I then left.
When appearing for my bail at 5pm on the appointed day I was kept waiting in reception for over an hour, when eventually I was seen, an officer interviewed me and started his conversation with “Sorry to keep you, I am afraid nothing has happened about the criminal damage yet, as we are still waiting for information, but I don’t expect it will proceed. With regard to the assaulting a Police officer charge, would you be willing to accept a caution”. I replied that the charge of assaulting a Police officer had been dropped and it was a shame we had both wasted our time. The officer then took me through to a Desk Sergeant where he again apologised for wasting my time and reiterated that the charge of assaulting a Police officer had been dropped and that he didn’t expect anything to come of the criminal damage charge, but he would bail me to appear again later. I remember joking at this point “same time, same day” as it was for 5 pm and it was obviously a busy time at the police station.
On arrival at home feeling that this whole, horrible “mistake” was probably behind me, I put the paperwork behind my calendar thinking to fill it in later as I was due to go out immediately on my return. Not looking at the form to get the exact date, I assumed that the bail was for the Friday as was the previous one, not the preceding Monday.
I was just getting out of bed on the Morning of 19 July when the door bell rang. I looked out of the window to see two uniformed officers at my front door. I immediately thought “oh no, I must have missed my bail”. I was subsequently taken to the Police station and charged with breach of bail. I was told of the charge of Assaulting a Police officer. I said “that was dropped at my first interview and that only the charge of criminal damage was valid”. The officer said that, that charge had now been dropped, but I was still charged with assaulting a Police officer. At that point I asked if I was still entitled to see a solicitor as in my naivety I had refused one on previous visits.
Frankly at this point I began looking behind doors and round corners, expecting Jeremy Beedle to jump out at any moment, as this seemed to be an ever perpetuating farce. If the Police officer hadn’t pushed me in the first place, I would have apologised to the taxi driver and the queue and none of the subsequent events would have taken place!
There is still more to come, because now we were actually going to Court. My first ever court appearance had me pleading “Guilty” to failure to surrender for bail. Great – so now I had a criminal conviction, albeit a minor one, all because I missed an appointment. Oh and a £60 fine with a £15 surcharge for victim support. “Victim Support” – Just who is the “Victim” here, I thought.
Anyway a bit of good news my solicitor was hopeful “they” the CPS, were going offer me a caution and I was bailed to return on 20 August.
So, back to Court in August and yep, my Solicitor had done as he said and the CPS offered me a Caution”. “So what’s a Caution?” I asked, “And what exactly does it mean?” Well it turns out that it is still a criminal record and it is an admission of guilt on my part. But I really hadn’t done anything wrong. So what is the alternative to accepting a caution – go to “Trial” and prove your innocence. If you are found “not guilty” you will get back all your costs and of course NO criminal record. Hey, I had complete faith in the British Justice system. I know the truth here, my evidence is irrefutable, someone will see the truth, common sense will prevail and of course, Justice will be done. HA!
November 24th arrives and off I go to have my day in court and “prove my innocence!” The weeks before had been fairly busy getting my Witness’s and Character witness’s arranged with the Solicitor and our last meetings did sound a little less positive, as we had no CCTV available. Something, I was sure would prove my story to be exactly true, but the other Police officers statements threw no further facts into the melting pot, either. So what was it going to come down to? – my word, against that of a “Police Inspector”. You see, although we both totally agreed that he had pulled my arm and then pushed me and that I had subsequently pushed him straight back. Our Statements then differed a bit. The Inspector said that he had observed Brett and an officer struggling and he was concerned for the officer’s safety, as others were standing around, getting in the way and pulling on Brett, and they were half in and half out of the taxi. He also said that as he was running into the situation from 50 yards away and arriving at the scene which was confined to the 4-5 feet between the taxi and the railings, that he had shouted for everyone to get away from the officer and he had positively identified me as pulling on Brett from behind, although he couldn’t be specific as to how I was grabbing him, or where. The truth of the matter is that Brett was holding onto the railings with a vice like grip, the officer was trying to pull him off and Rupert and Lewis were talking to the officer trying to get him to see reason and let go of Brett. I was at this point still in the taxi, taking my own sweet time to undo my seat belt and get out. As I got out of the taxi, still in a stooped position, I was pulled out by my arm and then pushed in the chest. I then used both hands to push my assailant away, as an immediate reaction, I didn’t even know, who this person was, all I could remember was a tall man in a white shirt. Not maliciously, not with aggression, just a simple push so that I could get the person away from me and assess the situation, after all, who was it?, was it an angry member from the taxi queue? I did not even see what was happening to Brett as it all happened so quickly. I think the Inspector and I had, in fact, arrived at the “incident” simultaneously. Talk about being, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Of course he knew how to write his statement, so that “it sounded right”, should it go further, which of course, it did.
Anyway, after all the witnesses were done, my star witness, my Daughter Roz, having backed up my story completely and she was sober and in a great position to see what had actually happened, it appeared that the whole case rested on whether the inspector was acting in the line of his duty, in which case, I really had no right to interfere with him “doing his job”. Then the solicitors and the clerk all started getting legal books out and talking about “precedents” and “in him verses him” etc. So, did I just get there at the wrong time, or was I actually out of the car, interfering with the officer arresting Brett. It was now down to the Magistrates’ they went off to deliberate for about half an hour and I went out with the Solicitor to go over the “what if’s” as it was now, all but over. I then sat around with my family and witnesses and we all seemed to agree that common sense was going to prevail.
The magistrates eventually returned, found me Guilty, fined me £450, plus another £15 for victim support (just who is this “victim”) and of course cost’s. As my Solicitor then said, “Well it is Magistrates Court and it was your word against a Police Inspector!”
So there you are! I now have a criminal record for “Assaulting a Police Officer” and “Failing to Surrender”. I have paid out a total of about £3,500 had 5 days off work, spent more than 18 hours in a cell, put my family through a lot of unnecessary stress and my faith in the “British Justice system” has been somewhat, broken. Anyone who knows me, know’s, I am above all, a “family man”, that I like a drink (and I’m quite good at it, I think), I like a good laugh, I am pretty laid back and honest (well to a point),” I don’t do violence, I’d much rather talk about it. I’d like to think most people think of me as a “nice” chap who would always “Do the right thing!” So it’s out of character to have a criminal record, but at least now you know why and how it happened.
Is it fair? Is it just? Didn’t we just waste a lot of time, money and effort? Isn’t it all a bit petty? Am I angry? – Just a bit. Do I think the Police have a difficult Job to do on a Saturday night? – Yes, I don’t doubt it. Do I have sympathy with them for the people they have to deal with? – Again, Yes, some Drunks are horrible! – Not me though!
Have I learned anything from all this? – OH YES! – I’ve learned that if you push anyone, (even if they push you first) look at them first, try to ascertain the situation, make sure you are not going to be further attacked, try to work out their identity, check to see if they are carrying a weapon, avoid further contact until you are absolutely sure they are not a Police Inspector. Then and only then, can you push them away! What else, oh yea I’ve learned – when asked if you would like to see a Solicitor, say yes. Oh, and take everything you hear from a Policeman with a “pinch of salt”. If you are offered a “Caution” – take it! It may be your only way out. Don’t listen to your friends – or even yourself come to that, if you think you have got to stand up against injustice. Don’t miss an appointment; make sure you diarise all the important things in your life! The rooms at the custody centre, although en-suite are fairly basic and the food is not quite up to what I remember of School dinners, the bedding is a little sparse and the bed hard, although I must say, the room service was pretty good. What else – oh yea, CCTV is never available when it might prove your innocence! Magistrates Court is probably biased towards the Police! – No it’s actually stacked against you! If they think you have some money, they will fine you more. You are Guilty unless you can prove your innocence. Life isn’t always fair and nor are the people in it, that you come across. Oh and the £15.00 I keep paying for “victim support”, that must be something to do with that letter I always get, a couple of days after I am given my crime number, (because they rarely come to actually see you) when I have in the past reported a burglary (twice), a robbery at my house, someone breaking into my car (3 times), someone vandalising my car, or breaking my shop’s front window(3 times) or stealing my shop stock! Hey, I think I may start getting bitter, if I’m not careful, so best stop there!
It’s up to you, now! Make your own mind up. Was I actually Guilty? – Well, YES – I was! Never mind aye! Luckily I’m not 18 anymore, so the effect on my life should not be “life changing”, although it might make me alter my direction a little. I may now have trouble getting into America for a holiday, but the up side is Australia welcomes Criminal’s (or at least they used to).
Well “THAT’S LIFE” so I’d best, just, get on and live it! – After all, “YOU ARE ONLY HERE ONCE!”