The defendant was Polish and, whilst having a satisfactory command of English for everyday purposes, required an interpreter in Court in the interests of justice.
The Bench, on this occasion was composed entirely of men, a fact our lady legal advisor commented upon during the pre trial briefing.
In fact, her words were:- "You'll enjoy this one but please, gentlemen, make your decision based upon the facts and evidence."
The details of the case were quite shocking but that is not the purpose of this tale and I propose to explore them no further. The prosecutor called the injured party to the witness box as the sole witness for the prosecution.
She made quite an entrance. She was, I'd estimate, some 5ft 10in tall and a good 75% of that appeared to be legs, an estimation assisted by the fact that they were covered, to within an inch of crotch height, in tight black leather boots with improbably thin heels at least 5in high. Coupled with that was a pair of the tightest jeans I have ever seen, at least, the part of her jeans that was visible above her boots. How the dickens she moved without squeaking, I can't imagine. Her upper body was no less noticeable for the fact that she wore a white shirt, unbuttoned, one might argue, indecently low and exposing what might be described as an upland landscape of bosom. Again, how the buttons of her shirt contrived to hold everything in place was a source of mystery and speculation. In addition she had blonde hair so long that it all but met the tops of her boots.
She was in her twenties although, for some reason unknown, her exact age escapes me. Oddly, you might say, considering the wealth of detail I'd noticed in the paragraph above.
She took her time from the door of the Court to the witness box. Clearly this must have been so as we, the disinterested Bench, were able to complete the above description in full detail.
She was also Polish but her English was sufficient for her not to need an interpreter, although the defendant's interpreter made it clear that he stood ready to assist if required
She was, however, little more than a third rate actress as, although she was in tears and sobs, causing certain parts of her anatomy to jiggle uncontrollably in what physicists would recognise as simple harmonic motion, it became increasingly apparent that her evidence was a pack of lies. She contradicted her own evidence at least three times that the Bench noticed.
It was with little surprise then, that the defence advocate hauled himself to his feet at the end of the prosecution case and made an application of "No case to answer" on the grounds that the witness had so discredited herself that her evidence in toto, and therefore that of the prosecution as a whole, was so tainted as to make any possible conviction unsafe.
We retired to consider the application and found ourselves in unanimous agreement with the application. We called the legal advisor into the retiring room to apprise her of our decision and at the same time explain that I, as chairman, would order the CPS to examine the evidence given by the witness with a view to consideration of a charge of perjury.
Our legal advisor indicated that there were Police officers in the Court building and that if we were minded to, could instruct them to arrest the witness forthwith so while we were in the retiring room, the legal advisor instructed the usher to go and find the Police officers and summon them to my Courtroom. By the time we returned to Court to announce our decision, one Police officer was in the public gallery, where the witness had chosen to watch the outcome of the trial.
In announcing that the application was granted I had to explain our reasons and, on the agreement of my colleagues, I was robust in denouncing the witness's evidence as a pack of lies.
This caused the witness some disquiet. In fact she spoke to me, in Polish, for a good few seconds before striding purposefully, that is to say, as purposefully as she could in those heels, for the Courtroom door, only to be stopped in her tracks by a Police officer blocking the door-way, joined immediately by the officer who had been positioned in the public gallery whereupon she was arrested and taken into custody. This caused a further tirade of Polish invective which, although incomprehensible to me, seemed a tad less than cordial.
The somewhat bewildered defendant was then released and the case formally dismissed by me.
As an aside, I mentioned that I wondered precisely what the witness had said to me, at which point the defendant's interpreter rose somewhat sheepishly to his feet and said:- "Your Worship, I can tell you exactly what was said if you insist but, with Your Worship's indulgence perhaps I could just say that it was extremely vulgar and not the sort of thing you might expect to hear from a young lady."
After a moment's reflection I chose to accept the interpreter's advice
If this tale appears sexist, I apologise in advance of any comments to that effect but would say that my description of the events is entirely objective and is the standard of observation expected of any Magistrates during a case
The sad thing, of course, was that if the witness had been a more accomplished liar, there was a very real possibility that the defendant would have been found guilty and that, given the outline of the case, we would certainly have given consideration to committing him to the Crown Court for sentencing.