WHAT’S the saying? “Anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”?
Well, I don’t think the judge will be donning the black cap when I return to the Huddersfield Hanging Hotel (aka Kirklees Magistrates Court) for sentencing – although given how sore I still feel about the verdict, you never know.
I must admit it left me wobbling for a few days. But not for too long.
Sod ‘em all. Worse things happen at sea.
(And I probably shouldn’t air a view about the decision, ahead of the judge dishing out punishment, but given that they’re supposed to be above being influenced by grubby little media types, I will anyway).
My long-held opinion of judges is probably on a par with their view of journalists.
They see us as mouthy troublemakers, while I see too many of them as mediocre lawyers trying to impose their own skewed social order on the world.
For some, this means wiping the backsides of serial criminals who can deal drugs, rob and mug OAPs by the dozen and still get sent home to ‘care’ for their den of illegitimate kids, the courts/ judges spending years exhausting the full range of ‘community sentencing options’ before the light dawns that, actually, they’re just human dross.
Others seem to delight in putting the Timpson into someone supposedly respectable who should know better than offend their social graces and end up in a court room.
Naturally I wouldn’t for a moment attempt to put the lady judge who found me guilty in either of those boxes.
The argumentative young drunk – or in the court’s eyes, amiable, fresh-faced young man – who started on me in the Fox and Hounds pub in Hanging Heaton last April may or may not have reminded Judge Baldwin of one of her own vulnerable young offspring (and I haven’t a clue if she has kids or not).
The point is, while accepting that judges are ‘supposed’ to be beyond emotional influence, they still sit on the pot the same as the rest of us, don’t they?
You see, I’m still trying to fathom how she reached the decision she did, unless she was swayed by the visual impression of my chubby cheeked accuser, who took the witness stand looking like he should be wearing short pants.
When Judge Baldwin returned after an unusually protracted time considering her verdict to say she found me guilty, it took even the Crown Prosecutor, Mr Ben Crosland, by surprise.
“I’ll be applying for £620 prosecution costs if we win this, although that looks highly unlikely at this stage,” he’d said minutes earlier.
But a few minutes later I’d had my backside cracked by ma’am, and not half. With a spiked glove on.
The bottom line, as I understood Judge Baldwin to explain, was that she couldn’t conceive that a gnarly old beast like me could imaginably feel threatened by a pink cheeked, fresh-faced mite like Liam Ellis.
Now you’ll all have your own views on this, but a perfectly good Anglo-Saxon epithet works perfectly well for me.
What a load of b*llocks.
I DON’T suppose any of you were walking or driving past the Fox and Hounds pub at about 10.40pm on Saturday April 20th, and witnessed a scuffle start in the driveway outside the tap room door, did you?
If so, you wouldn’t have known it, but that was me, dealing with a bloke who could have been either the Village Idiot or Vlad the Impaler.
The thing is, having not met mouth-almighty until 15 minutes earlier, I wasn’t to know either.
When a bloke starts giving you grief and foul-mouthed abuse, then decides he’s heading after you when you walk away from possible trouble, you really are not expecting a hug and a kiss.
A bear hug and a Glasgow kiss, maybe.
So, I’m the victim here, am I?
Actually, no, except in that I’m the victim of my own daft idea that a) the truth is good enough, and b) that a smart-arse has any place trying to conduct his own defence – my biggest mistake.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I was already painfully aware that ‘justice’ is an abstract notion bearing little relation to the truth of things.
So it was not a massive surprise that Ma’am Baldwin slapped me down when I tried to ask Ellis whether he had previous experience of punching 50-odd-year-old blokes in the mush.
I’d have thought it relevant. She didn’t.
She discounted the fact that Ellis told police he’d come out of the pub after me – I was standing in the driveway – but then on the witness stand insisted he never left the doorway, which was, slap my thigh, where his friend and co-bar worker Kerry Oldroyd had already said he never moved from.
Ma’am Baldwin said Oldroyd had no reason whatsoever to give evidence that helped her pal. I’d better shut up on that one, eh?
Neither was any weight given to Ellis telling the court he didn’t go to the pub until 8pm, when he’d already admitted been drinking there solidly since 7pm.
Or that he couldn’t remember hardly anything about our ‘conversation’, but he was absolutely certain he hadn’t said any of the things I had very clearly heard. Funnily enough Oldroyd didn’t hear them either. How convenient.
And the bottom line, the one that stung most – briefly – was the ludicrous, old fashioned idea that there has to be any proof whatsoever to find a bloke guilty.
Ellis, full of beer, started an argument with a bloke who didn’t know him from Adam, and went after him out of the pub, despite being advised to leave it alone.
No-one saw what happened next, but the judge simply preferred little boy blue’s amended version from his original statement.
Ellis might have got the stitches, but excuse me if I feel like I was the one who got stitched up.
In hindsight, I guess I did learn a lesson.
Pick better places to go for a quiet drink.
EVERY now and again emails scoot around the internet with some highly amusing – or infuriating – ‘fact’ that most of us swallow hook, line and sinker.
One I saw last week concerned an American woman who bought a mobile home, got on the freeway, set the cruise control – then went into the back to make a sandwich.
Not surprisingly it crashed, the sting being that she got $1.25m compo from Winnebago, who had to re-write their manuals to avoid other idiots doing the same.
Great tale, eh? Except it’s complete bunkum.
So when I read on Thursday about the copper who got £440,000 after quitting the job because his mates kept taking the mickey, I thought it must be a similar wheeze.
Except it wasn’t. A police video of PC Mike Baillon smashing an OAP’s car window with his baton was viewed around the world on the internet. Although he was cleared of wrongdoing his colleagues had a laugh at his expense, to the point that the sensitive soul walked – and sued.
Now, maybe his bosses could have handled it better. It would appear so. But £440,000 for being a thin-skinned sweetheart, when our maimed soldiers are foisted off with a fraction of that for losing limbs?
It’s madness, it really is.
Still, the other story this week about an English Romany (?) traffic cop sueing his own force because he was offended by fellow officers calling Romany people ‘travellers’ has to be a send-up, hasn’t it?
Not only do we need a dose of common sense in our courts and tribunal system – ahem – but the sooner all of these failed/spurious claims are hit by massive costs orders, the quicker they’ll be stamped out.