Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Linda was used to seeing all sorts of ruffians and scallywags in Salisbury Magistrates' Court.

She was most commonly to be found in there for small-scale offences. Young men in tracksuits who owned those blunt-faced dogs that terrorised neighbours. Sallow-faced parents who rarely saw the sun and couldn't quite succeed in getting their children to attend school. The odd trading standards issue that couldn't be settled in the small claims court. And numerous counts of GBH, usually involving a rather disreputable character who went by the name of Troy Whitworth.

She'd heard tell of John Byron from PC Jacobs, a regular on the court scene. She and Barry would enjoy a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive in the staff room during the numerous breaks for deliberation in the court. Always off the record, of course. So she's heard of this fellow, Byron, from Barry as they'd suspected him of dealing drugs for years. They had plenty of people queueing up to give evidence against him. But the police had never succeeded in finding a shred of evidence on his premises. So they lay in wait, hoping.

This case in Salisbury Magistrates' Court was a one-off in Linda's extensive experience. And although she refused to admit it to anyone, it rather amused her. Pat Pickles was a short smug chap who'd worked at Kennet and Avon for years. One of these men that thinks he owns the building. Woe betide anyone who attached something new to the noticeboard that hadn't been vetted by Pat. Linda had made the mistake one day of pinning up a poster for St Cuthbert's Summer Fete. Pat never let her hear the end of it. And the proceeds would have gone to the local cat and dog home. She couldn't forgive him for that.

So this Byron had staggered into Pat's garden one day, started uprooting Pat's early crop of rhubarb, got grumpy when Pat interrupted him and locked the little chap up in his shed.

Linda had happened to find him. Pat hadn't been at work for a week. He hadn't phoned in sick which was unlike him. But no-one really cared as he was so objectionable. In the end, as everyone else had refused to get involved, Linda had been sent round to his house to investigate. After ringing extensively on his front door, she eventually heard foul, cursing language from the shed and so discovered Pat. Key still in the outside of the door of the shed.

Pat, whom she had never heard use the Lord's name in vain in seventeen years at Kennet and Avon Council, was swearing like a sailor.

So here she was in Salisbury Magistrates' Court. Six months on. And she felt a little shiver down her spine when this infamous highwayman was led into the box wearing an odd sort of colourful coat laden with golden braid and a little jaunty black cloak. He swore on the bible - though he didn't look very solemn - that he would tell the whole truth. And then they were off.

She had the dubious pleasure of relaying the colourful string of expletives that Pat had uttered when she found him. It was being used as evidence of his instability of mind as a consequence of the trauma he had suffered.

She felt a little bashful as she recited the bad words in court. Her mother would be ashamed! And she felt the eyes of the unruly highwayman sweeping up and down her, from top to toe.

She hoped against hope that she would never have to see him again.

To be continued


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