Having given evidence for the prosecution I’d been told by DC John to stay away from the court to a) avoid Baulch and b) not give the court or jury any reason to believe his crimes hadn’t affected me. So instead of me going to hear the evidence of my friend my girlfriend went into court. I needed to know what happened because it was only a partial memory. For a long time I blamed myself for leading him to my playhouse and straight into Baulch’s vile clutches. As water always calms me, whilst my girlfriend sat with DC John listening to my friend’s testimony I wandered round the Sealife Centre to soothe and distract myself.
I subsequently didn’t learn anything past what my partial memory has let me remember. I don’t know if that’s because my girlfriend won’t tell me to protect me or things got watered down in the retelling. The only thing I did learn, which is important and has eased my guilt is that my friend doesn’t blame me. That helps assuage my guilt somewhat, even though I still blame myself for sharing my secret with him which resulted in his abuse. One thing I did learn was Larry the barrister proved once again both his stupidity and hostility. My friend had uncovered his abuse whilst doing some life coaching. Larry decided to hammer it home to discredit the organisation my friend used, repeatedly calling it a cult. After banging that point a few times he concluded it asking if “it’s true to say some people believe it’s a cult” the response was instantaneous, without missing a beat
“I’ve heard that, but some people also believe in aliens”
My friend’s response had most people in the court, including the judge and jury stifling laughter.
After my friend had given evidence the prosecution called my mum and my dad who gave their brief evidence. After they had given evidence the judge adjourned the case for lunch. I met back up with my girlfriend and my parents at the cafe round the corner, as we were all stressed we returned to the hotel for lunch and a cuppa.
What we didn’t know was that my parent’s evidence was the conclusion of the prosecution’s case which they rested. As a result the defence presented their case, which was solely Baulch being cross examined. We discovered this the following day when my girlfriend went back to court where she saw the prosecution and defence presented their closing arguments and the judge sum up the case before retiring the jury to deliberate a verdict. In all honesty I can’t remember how I/we spent the afternoon but my girlfriend returned to court on the Friday morning. After packing our things up and putting them in the hotel’s luggage room I checked out of the hotel and got the bus to wait at the cafe for a verdict.
Not long after I got to the cafe my girlfriend texted me to say they were being called back into the courtroom, a few minutes later she called me to say they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision. The judge sent them back to deliberate a verdict and that he’d accept a majority verdict. Maybe an hour later or so I had another text saying they were being called back in. My anxiety and adrenaline were now pumping beyond overdrive. Because she couldn’t text live from the courtroom there was a brief delay between the verdicts being given and me receiving them.
Baulch was found guilty of charges
- Indecent assault against me
- Indecent assault against my friend
He was found not guilty of the charge
Indecent assault on my sister
On hearing the verdicts I quickly finished my coffee and left the cafe and headed to the court. I sparked up a cigarette and phoned Sam who had been giving me ISVA support remotely to tell her. I barely had time to hug my girlfriend and parents before DC John whisked me into a room to take a victim impact statement. He gave me a run through of the verdicts and the fact the judge had told Baulch he could expect a custodial sentence. The victim impact statement was done in about 20 minutes, it seemed far too brief to explain the damage that had been done in the subsequent 30 odd years.
Emboldened by the convictions and the prospect Baulch was going to be locked up we picked up the luggage and went back with mum and dad to spend a couple of nights with them. That weekend we drank a few bottles of bubbly and celebrated with some neighbours who’d been taking care of my parents after I told them about the case 6 months earlier.
The next two weeks were a blur but before we knew it we were back on a train to Sussex for sentencing.
Having waited what seemed like an eternity that day we were finally called in for sentencing late afternoon. We were all high on emotion. After both the prosecution and defence barristers presented their sentencing arguments for aggravating and mitigating factors in the case the judge passed his sentence. Our relief came in the words “two years custodial sentence” only to be dashed as they were followed by “suspended for two years”. It was unbelievable he’d been given a get out of jail card despite denying it all through the process, even just before sentence was passed he was asked if he’d like to express remorse for his crimes, which he steadfastly refused.
I still don’t know how I didn’t lose it, my girlfriend and mum burst into tears, I was dragged by DC John and Toby to be told what the sentence meant. They didn’t explain really how the judge went from a prison sentence to a suspended sentence, they couldn’t even guarantee me that he would be on the Sex Offenders Register. I left the court, barged passed Baulch, followed by DC John and my girlfriend. A few minutes later Baulch and his girlfriend came out, my girlfriend screamed at him asking how many more victims did he abuse? My only regret was I didn’t kick him down the court’s steps. That combined with the sentence left me feeling like I had not got anywhere near justice.
During the sentencing the West Sussex County Times had sent a reporter to cover the story, after my girlfriend and I had spent the previous two weeks badgering them and the other local newspapers who covered the area. Their report can be read here.