By the time January 2016 arrived, so much had happened over the previous 8 years and 8 months, but the end was in sight (or at least I thought it was). Without going into detail the new year started really fucking awfully, as a result my girlfriend and I had to make a run to London 2 weeks before the trial was due to start, wasn’t ideal but it was what it was and needed taking care of.
A couple of months earlier Peter the DC rang me to say he would be unable to be present at the case due to another judge demanding another case he was involved in take place at the same time at another court. I should make it clear I was gutted but in no way objected. This other case involved a 6 year old victim being abused by an adult. To me it was right Peter did all he can to stop that bastard, I was ready to do my bit to stop Baulch. Because Peter wasn’t able to be at the trial to present the police case, a colleague would be doing it on his behalf. As my girlfriend and I were on the train to London because of the emergency when Peter’s colleague John phoned me. The conversation went something like this:
John: Hi Alan, this is John, you may remember me accompanying Fifefield when we took your statement.
Me: Erm, not exactly, but that’s because my statement was taken by DC Barber of York C.I.D. in 2007 who passed it on to Fifefield at the time.
John: Oh, are you sure? Anyway Peter is unable to present the case due to a conflict with another case so i shall be doing it for him. On the morning before you go into the courtroom you will be given your video statement to refresh your memory.
Me:Ok but I didn’t make a video statement, I made a written statement of about 20 pages. Before I speak to you again can i ask you to actually make yourself aware of the facts of the case?
I swear it was like talking to the Keystone Cops. I really felt really unconfident on what kind of case the police would present as well as how compitent anyone but Peter was in that department. This was compounded minutes later by a phonecall from Nik the ISVA:
Nik: Hi Al, just calling to tell you I can only support you one day. When will you be giving evidence at Chichester?
Me: Are you fucking shitting me? I’ve just had a phonecall from the replacement DC and he was like the Keystone Cops. Now you are pulling this bollocks on me?
Firstly how many times do I have to tell you it’s Lewes Combined Courts, you really should know this because you were at the court when the barrister told us, plus I reminded you again last November when you called me. Do you just not pay attention? or are you incapable of organising a piss up in a brewery?
Secondly as you were also aware I may have to give evidence over two days. As I don’t know if it will be one or two days, or even which of the three courts I can hardly tell you where or when. Also Sam had told me when she supports people, whether from York or out of the area coming to give evidence in York, she sets asside the whole week to allow for delays.
It really was unbelievable how uniterested in supporting a witness she was, or even what her responsibilities as an ISVA were. As soon as we got out of Kings Cross Station I called Sam’s mobile and could only get her voicemail. I called the office to be reminded she was out of the office on jury duty but to try leaving her a message and she’d pobably call me back during a break at the end of the day. The also offered to email her asking to make urgent contact with me. Sam called me the next morning on her way to jury duty and was stunned with both DC John & Nik’s incompetency. Sam became a go between as best as she possibly could and was wonderful. It resulted in her agreeing with me that Nik would cause me extra stress and anxiety than I needed and told Nik her services weren’t required. Probably better and more diplomatic than the “Go Fuck Yourself!” I had prepared for her.
As the issues that caused our escape from York started to subside I agreed with my girlfriend that she should go down to Mum & Dad’s to continue de-stressing while I returned to York to take care of some important appointments I had booked for the week before trial and tidy the house. On the monday I rearranged one appointment for the Thursday, went into town for another appointment and bought some food for the week. That night whilst watching Bad Education The Movie I ate the haddock and pea risotto I bought. As I was eating it I thought it tasted strange. I went to bed only to wake up with extreme diarrhoea and vommiting. Unbelievably 4 days before I was due to head down to Brighton I had given myself bloody food poisioning. I cancelled all my appointments in case it was a bug and not food poisoning and spent the next few days between bed, sofa and toilet. By wednesday night I started taking Imodium in the hope it would slow things down and make getting to Brighton easier.
All of my best laid plans for the week had gone to pot, but Friday morning I was at the station with my suitcase and bags, ready for the train. Feeling very delicate I boarded only to find someone sat in the seat I had reserved. I found a seat, set my tablet up and curled up to watch a film. I’m glad i had my headphones in because on the table next to me were three Glaswegian women who didn’t stop yapping all the way for 2 hours. Feeling rough from the previous few days exploits on top of the yapping Glaswegians on top of the stress of what was to come over the coming days made a journey I’ve done countless times since being exiled to York was definitely the worst I’d done.
When I got to Kings Cross I made my way St Pancras to get the Thameslink to Brighton. About half way there at about 2pm my phone rang, it was Sarah the witness officer. She rang to tell me I wasn’t needed til Tuesday to give evidence because the Monday afternoon, which was when I was expected to start giving evidence was being set aside for legal arguments. She suggested I didn’t come down til Monday, to which point I pointed out it was too late I was almost in Brighton because I needed to make sure I was as relaxed and aclimatised as possible.
Arrival at Brighton Station
Eventually the train pulled into Brighton Station and I set foot on terra firma, I was pretty much past the point of no return. After a brief cig break I walked to the taxi rank and jumped into the first taxi. I was disorientated, I had no idea where I was or how far I had to go to get to the hotel, traffic was awful and was jam after another, made worse by roadworks on the coastal road. I got to the hotel having felt like I hadn’t gone very far but to be charged 7.80. I felt like I’d been ripped off, and later would discover I travelled 750 meters. Needless to say much to the indignance of the driver I didn’t give a tip. I swear I’ll never complain about the price of taxis in York ever again!