Usher Megan works part-time, so it’s her colleague, Paul, who collects us today. He doesn’t come straight away though. The jury lounge is full of folk sitting around. Andy announces most of the trials have a delayed start. Ours won’t be ready until 11am. I have time for not just one cup of tea, but two, as it turns out. We’re delayed again until 11.30am and beyond. Jurors for other courts are shepherded away. Finally, Andy announces that we’re on. I race over to him, closing down my laptop and then both my mobile phones as the jury follows Paul to the courtroom. It’s just before noon.
Today’s proceedings start with agreed facts, the written statements of facts on which both prosecution and defence agree. They contain several surprises. Each of the defendants saw the CCTV footage when first interviewed by police. More dramatically, Jake Goodman has admitted to being to one of the men seen following Brooks into the bar. Goodman and Drummond are friends. All three defendants have been convicted of multiple violent offences, although Drummond’s convictions are old.
Bastow reads all the agreed facts out and the jurors also have a printed copy each. Once this has finished, it is lunchtime. The Court is adjourned until 2pm.
For a change, we manage to start the afternoon on time. It’s just as well, as more drama unfolds. The next witness to take the stand is DC Hampson, who managed the case and interviewed all three defendants both before and after the identification parade. Hampson is a middle-aged man with a cynical expression. He has been sitting behind Bastow throughout the trial. I’d assumed he was a support lawyer or member of court staff.
Hampson is the first to swear on the bible when called to the witness box. The others have merely affirmed they will not lie. He confirms a few more facts to Bastow. George Drummond was suspected from the start, but was hard to find. Eventually, Drummond heard Hampson was looking for him and made contact. He was interviewed under caution with a solicitor present. Although he exercised his right to remain silent, he gave a prepared statement in which he said he wasn’t there that night, and had not in fact visited any licensed premises in the area since the end of 2013. It later transpires, when Drummond is cross-examined about it by Bastow, that Drummond was on bail for another offence (of which he was presumably found innocent) and it was a bail condition.
“What would have happened if you’d breached it?” Bastow asks.
“I don’t know.” Drummond looks puzzled. “But I didn’t want to find out!” He grins.
Lloyd Wick had given his side of the story to Hampson when interviewed. A transcript of his questions and answers is produced to the jury. Bastow and Hampson role-play it, Bastow taking Wick’s part. Wick says he was not there, he has never met Daniel Hart, and Hart’s identification is mistaken. Wick asserts he is often mistaken for other people.
Miss Barry asks if a solicitor was present and Hampson says no, Wick was advised he could have one, but chose not to.
Hampson tells us more about identity parades. Apart from the photos of the suspects, each batch of nine images is drawn from a huge computer database. The computer deliberately seeks out similar faces to that of the suspect, and the suspect’s legal advisers vet the images and may object to them before they’re shown to witnesses. The process is known as VIPER: Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording.
“We no longer drag members of the public off the streets,” the judge smirks.
All three defence counsel cross-examine Hampson. Beyond getting Hampson to confirm Goodman pleaded guilty to all but one of his previous convictions, Smith has little to say, but Misses Shah and Barry have plenty. Miss Shah points out that George Drummond has an alibi for the night. He was with his friends Bradford Dean and Nathan Judd all evening. Their names and phone numbers were handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service three weeks before the trial. Hampson says he received them a week later. It would be normal procedure to try to find Messrs Dean and Judd (which it turns out is not difficult) or phone them. Hampson admits this and says he didn’t do it; he can’t recall why.
Hampson is the last prosecution witness, and now the defendants may have their say. Goodman, however, declines to take the stand. Drummond is asked to do so. He, too, affirms that he will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
George Drummond is tall and broad-shouldered. The men seen on CCTV appear slimmer, and I wonder at the identification evidence. He is a confident, but not aggressive, witness. Miss Shah is now the soul of gentleness as she sympathetically draws out his story. Drummond says he too pleaded guilty to all but one of the offences of which he was convicted. Most took place when he was a boy. He was in care and found it hard to settle; he simply lashed out.
“I know that doesn’t excuse my behaviour,” Drummond says. “I feel remorseful. I knew I’d done wrong and must make amends, so I pleaded guilty.”
He feels he’s put all that behind him now. After a period of homelessness, he’s secured a college place and somewhere to live.
Miss Shah asks him about the alibi. Drummond has been through his social media messages and saw he’d made arrangements to see Bradford and Nathan that night. We are given screenshots.
“Can you translate for us?” Miss Shah asks, seemingly perplexed at his textspeak.
Drummond grins while Goodman and Wick fall about laughing. Patiently, Drummond talks her through the messages. He asserts that he spent the evening with his friends and stayed overnight with them.
Now it’s time for Bastow to cross-examine and he lets rip. “You have a temper don’t you, Mr Drummond?”
“No more than anyone else,” Drummond says. “I know I did wrong when I was younger. I was under pressure then, in care or homeless. I’m a different person now.”
“You lose it when you don’t get your own way.”
“I don’t do that now,” Drummond repeats.
Bastow is deeply suspicious that the alibis were so late in being forthcoming. He says it took Drummond a long time to persuade his friends to lie to him. Why weren’t they mentioned before?
Drummond says his solicitor advised him to say nothing in police interviews.
“Mr Goodman is your friend too, is he not?” Bastow asks.
Drummond says yes, but not like Dean and Nathan.
“Not someone who would lie for you?” Bastow suggests.
“No.” Poor Drummond is damned however he answers that question.
“And Mr Wick? Do you know him?”
“I know OF him,” Drummond says. “I mean, he’s a friend of a friend. But I don’t know him.”
Bastow asks if Drummond has spoken with his alibi witnesses. He claims he hasn’t, saying they were both busy and Bradford had no phone. The judge points out that Drummond has provided a phone number for Bradford. Drummond says it didn’t work when he tried to ring it.
At 4.30pm, with Bastow still raring to go for Drummond’s throat, the judge calls a halt. The court will resume at 10am tomorrow.
My jury service took place a month ago. Read more about it here – I posted a blog every day this week:
Note – all names have been changed