Pandora’s Box (part 5)

Having been bailed without restrictions to appear before the Crown Court 3 months later, very little happened. The time seemed to drag, but this time we were most certainly not going to miss see the bastard in court. My girlfriend and I had decided 8 weeks beforehand we’d go down for the court appearance and spend a week afterwards fishing. Now I must confess packed in my fishing gear was hunting gear just in case he failed to attend again. If it all went tits up, nothing was going to stop me ensuring he could never abuse a child again. For the record I am in general against taking the life of another person, but there are times when there may be justifiable homicide. Stopping Baulch in my mind, even now is a justifiable reason to remove a life from the world.

As far as the police were concerned there was little movement and we were plodding along til the Plea & Case Management Hearing (PCMH) at Chichester Crown Court on August 10th. Sam, my ISVA had arranged for Nik C a West Sussex based ISVA to handle my care down in Sussex. Nik agreed to come to the PCMH and meet me outside. In retrospect i should have suspected something wrong when I saw a woman wandering around the  outside of the court looking dazed and confused. After a few minutes my phone rang a confused sounding woman was on the other end, trying to find it turns out the woman who passed me a couple of minutes earlier was my ISVA for when I was in Sussex. 

I should have known something wasn’t right, she was supposed to have organised access via the witnesses entrance, not the main entrance but we went into the main entrance of the court and into the public waiting room. A few minutes later who should appear? Yup Baulch turned up and sat next to me, I started to lose my cool and muttering things to which he told me to “grow up”, now I wasn’t going to take his crap and stood over him, all six foot and twenty something stone of me hulking over him ready to give him the kicking he was owed. Before I had a chance to do anything I had my girlfriend, mum and Nik pulling me off him. Even now I regret letting them have their way and not letting my instinct take over, but what is done is done. I ended up being wisked away to the witness room. We waited a bit when the prossecution barrister popped in.  He was a nice bloke and was comitted to doing the best for me but he managed to deal a knockout blow. I really needed to see the bastard in the dock, take some of the power away from him. However the Barrister insisted i did not enter the courtroom incase I heard anything that could compromise my evidence at trial.Fortunately he said it’d be ok for my girlfriend to go into the courtroom. When the PCMH had concluded my girlfriend returned to the room I was waiting in. Unsurprisingly the bastard returned a not guilty plea and a trial date was set. The barrister returned to the room, this time he had DC Pete, which was a surprise and the first time I had met any of the police in Sussex. The barrister confirmed what my girlfriend had already said about plea and also confirmed that a trial date had been set for the following January. I was surprised, I’d been told prior to the PCMH that if it was going to trial I could realistically expect a wait in excess of 12 months. The speed of the trial was due to the court moving the hearing to Lewes Combined Courts. It is, as will become clear later important to remember that the date and location of the trial was given to me, my parents, girlfriend and Nik the disorganised ISVA. I use the word disorganised, although in retrospect incompitent may be closer. Sam had asked Nik several weeks earlier to organise a court visit, which is something offered to vulnerable witnesses so they can see what the courtroom is like and ease concerns prior to giving evidence. Nik had failed to do this and the witness service at the court were unable to facilitate the request on the day, they did offer a court visit a few weeks later, Nik sat quietly and I had to point out that wouldn’t be possible as I lived 250 miles away. As a result I had to make do with a cursory glance at a plan of a courtroom on an A4 piece of paper, when I pointed that was for one of Chichester’s courts and we’d be going to Lewes Combined and that the barrister had pointed out that meant it could be Lewes, Brighton or Hove courts the response from both Nik & the witness service was “well they’re similar”. If the concept of a pre trial visist is to prepare a witness giving evidence, this in no way prepared me, in fact just made things feel even more uncertain.

After the PCMH I didn’t hear anything from Nik until the begining of November. I don’t remember exactly the purpose of the call but I do rememer her asking me when the trial at Chichester was. I was fuming, this woman who was meant to be helping make the trial process smoother by supporting me had apparently forgotten to write the date and venue when we’d been at the PCMH. I pointed out it was Lewes Combined on the 18th January and that she was in the witness room when the barister gave the details. Her response was to dither and err, not very inspiring.  When I told Sam about Nik’s incompetency she was unimpressed and appologetic, because she’d organised Nik’s organisation to provide ISVA cover down South. 

That wasn’t the only experience of no one knowing their arse from their elbow. A week or so after the PCMH, Ash the witness officer with the police sent a document for the witnesses with the details required for our attendence. This document also had it set at Chichester. I called Ash who was insistant that it was Chichester. Ihad to tell him to go back and check because it was most definitely Lewes Combined.  

In the meantime post PCMH I had sporadic contact with Pete, the DC. His job was to assist the CPS build the file for trial. He had the fun, with help from me to access my medical records from GP, Mental Health Services from Sussex, York & Private. This bothered me a bit, because in the interests of disclosure the defence team may be able to build a case to discredit me as a deluded nutjob. It also bothered me that the bastard himself would be able to see it, he’d already seen my witness statement. He’d seen everything about me and I’d seen nothing. The best I could get was being told he denied everything. Pete would ring me from time to time a bit frustrated because there were jobs he was having to do that Fifefield should have done already, this annoyed me and confirmed to me exactly why I’d sent that email to him and his sergeant. I don’t know what his motivation, or lackk of was but Fifefield was clearly failing to do his job properly.

With two months to go to trial I recieved a call from Pete who had been requested by the CPS barrister I had to give a second statement concerning the allegation pertaining to my friend. Even now I don’t know what happened to him other than I led him to the playhouse in our garden that my dad built but don’t remember what happened after opening the door. I should add, for that I still hold guilt and shame. No matter how many people tell me I was just a 3 or 4 year child who’d been groomed by Baulch I believe I should have done more not to let my friend find himself in that position. I’d like to take this moment to apologise publicly to him and I am truly sorry for what happened to him and my part in that.

Just before Christmas I had a phonecall from my parents to say they were being summonsed by the defence team to give evidence. They’d been told not to have contact with me. This upset me because Baulch had again pitted me against my family and isolated me. I couldn’t even wish them a happy Christmas or speak to them til they’d given evidence, which i knew would be a day or two after i had.

At some point since I had last spoken with Ash, he’d been replaced by Sarah, I had called her to enquire as to where exactly the trial would take place, because I’d need to arrange trains down south and accomodation. i was told that the decision wouldn’t be made til the Friday before (3 days before) the start of the trial. When I asked her where should I book for she said that Brighton would probably be best as it would be pretty much in the middle. I discussed with Sam what i could push for with claiming for expenses with the CPS she agreed that as I could book a first class Advanced Purchase ticket for less than a standard on the day ticket I should be able to push that. Having discussed things on Boxing Day with my girlfriend we booked tickets to Brighton and a room at the Hilton Metropole . Whereas this may seem extravagant the logic was that with a pool, jaquzzi, sauna and steam room in addition to a spa there were plenty of facilities to ensure i would be able to destress and relax as much as possible. What we didn’t know then was the cocktails would also play their part in destressing…

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