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Andrew Faux, 03 Aug '12


The bag of skunk was wrapped in fourteen layers of plastic. It stank. Bag was a misnomer. It was a bail of skunk. A heady mixture of chopped grass and flowering tops. Compressed. Greeny/brown. Sweating against the plastic. It lay on a table in the middle of the tight cockpit of Hereford Crown Court. The Jury were no more than 6 feet away, the Defendant seven. The Barristers could reach out and touch it. The Judge, elevated, probably the most distant - a mere 10 feet back.

The prosecuting barrister was drawing out evidence from a detective about THC concentrates (showing that this was grown away from the weak English (or Welsh) sunshine) and street values. The sweet cloying perfume of the skunk filled the room and commanded attention. The defence Barrister risked a look at the jury box – normally a safe move in a modern court room but not here – the nearest juror was within touching distance. But yes it was safe to look. They were all transfixed by the dope. Not one was looking towards the witness box. When they had filed in and been called, one at time, and then been sworn in, one at a time, cryptic notes had been exchanged between barrister and solicitors’ clerk – smoker – non smoker. That seemed irrelevant now. Even the prim twinset was slack jawed, nostrils flared and eyes staring at the sweaty mystical bale of grass with its uncanny ability to defeat all 14 layers of plastic and fill the tight room with its pungent aroma.

The defendant gave his evidence. Unconvincing to his barrister. Mumbled explanations. Personal use. Bulk buy. Cheaper that way. Never shared with anyone. Lied about home growing during the interview because didn’t want to drop a dealer into the mix. Old injury. Pain Killer. Paratrooper. The jury paid him as much regard as the detective.

Now speeches – short, little to say. Judge sums up and the jury are out of the room, reluctantly leaving that perfume after a mere 2 hours of trial.

Next a note from the jury for the judge:
“If we believe the Defendant did share a joint with friends would he be guilty of possession with intent to supply”.

The court reconvenes. The Judges discuss the note with the barristers. Agreement is reached and the jury ushered in. The judge smiles. Fatherly. He explains that yes he would be guilty and then waves the jury out, apologetically, explaining that the rules require them to retire again. He fixes the defence barrister with his eyes – “I shall sentence on the basis of social supply”.

The jury file back in - with no time for further discussion. Prim twin set stands.

“Have you reached a verdict upon which you are all agreed”


“Do you find the Defendant guilty or not guilty”

“Not Guilty”

Confusion. The judge rocks back. Unfocused. He looks like he has inhaled too deeply of the exhibit. He recovers. Then swiftly fines the defendant for simple possession of cannabis before thanking and then discharging the jury.

The jury smile and depart. Prosecuting barrister shrugs. The detective scowls. Defence lawyers grin, apologetically. The Defendant limps away, poorer.

Comments · 3

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  • Jamie Thomas said...

    Wow, this is great. I did work experience in a crown court, and you seem to describe the old world court room set up very well, even the atmosphere. The story was interesting and cleverly written, and I loved little descriptions you gave like the distances between the court room occupiers and the dope, and also I loved the use of "prim twinset". Well done, I can't wait to read more of what you write!

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Daniel Williams said...

    This is some good writing. I imagine it'd work really well been read aloud.

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Welcome to Burrst Andrew :)

    • Posted 7 years ago