Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Interesting defence. UPDATED.

Afraid of breaking a woman's arm? Then the sensible thing to do is drop her with a well aimed blow to the leg using an extending baton, yes?
A riot squad officer told a court yesterday that he feared he could have "snapped" the arm of female G20 protester or broken her jaw as she confronted him during the demonstration.

Metropolitan Police Sergeant Delroy Smellie, 47, is accused of assaulting animal rights activist Nicola Fisher by hitting her leg with an extendable metal baton.
I'm almost certain that I wouldn't like Nicola Fisher much. I'm almost certain she and I would not get on. I'm almost certain I'd find her an annoying pain in the arse and that she would think me a nasty, meat eating, serial animal killer. I'm almost certain that after some time in her company I'd be overcome with the urge to go and find the cutest kangaroo I could and shoot it in the face.* Still, despite all that I don't think I'd have taken her legs away with a golf club (closest thing I have access to) even if she did come at me with a highly dangerous camera and some lethal fruit juice.
He said that he considered using other physical tactics but was conscious of the fact that he was considerably bigger than Ms Fisher
Me too. Not far off the size of Sgt Smellie (please, no fart jokes) in fact. And I'd have thought that just from being that size I could deal with a small woman like that without swinging that fucking Asp at her, especially if I had various bits of body armour on. From her perspective he must have been like a wall that could talk back, except that walls don't generally back hand you across the face. Very macho of you, Delroy. Oh yes, you must be a big hit¹ with the ladies when you take them out² clubbing³.

But it's not just the actions of the cop, which are pretty well known having been thoroughly YouTubed across the world, that caught my attention. At the bottom there's this (my emphasis):
District Judge Daphne Wickham, who is trying the case without a jury, said she would be unable to reach a verdict today and that the trial would reconvene at a later date for her decision.
What? No jury? What's happened to equality before the law and police officers being ordinary citizens with a few extra powers and duties? If what this guy did was criminal, and anyone who's seen the video would probably agree that there's a case to answer, doesn't he get the right to a proper trial?

Everything about this case worries me. We have a cop who looks like he's stepped well over the line when dealing with a protestor, which says a lot about the policing of the protests as well as raising questions about that guy's suitability for that particular role in the police. But we also have yet another jury-less trial, and if that bothered me for armed robbers then it sure as fuck bothers me for a police officer, even if the wanker did floor some girl half his size for recklessly endangering him and his colleagues with a camera and some juice. It has a feel of a show trial with a pre-determined conclusion, and while I'm clearly leaning towards 'excessive force therefore guilty' I'm also aware that juries get to see more evidence than we can get from the media and that for all I know the defence could present something that raises enough reasonable doubt in my mind for me to be unwilling to convict. That's what juries are supposed to be there for, so how come Sgt Smellie doesn't get one? The fact that both Nicola Fisher and her ex-boyfriend didn't bother to show up in court and give evidence against him, though she flogged her story for £26 grand via Max Clifford, could be thought highly fucking relevant by a jury. Does what they'd have to say under oath differ from what she said in front of a cheque? We'll never know but the point is that their evidence can't now be tested by the jury... which doesn't actually matter because conveniently there isn't one anyway.

Put yourself in Nicola Fisher's position and imagine you've just been decked by a blow to the legs with a baton despite being armed with little more than a big mouth and a bad attitude. Now put yourself in Sgt Smellie's position and imagine you've been charged but don't get a jury trial. They may very well both be complete arseholes that I couldn't bear to share a room with for more than a few minutes but I still have some sympathy for them both. In either of their positions I'd be a very worried man.

UPDATE - in the comments dickiebo suggests that the lack of jury is probably because it's being held in a magistrates court by a District Judge, or Stipendiary Magistrate as they used to be known. That would make the absence of a jury normal in this type of trial. We can speculate that Sgt Smellie may have been leant on to settle for a jury-less trial but it's just as possible that he considered his chances with a jury that may well have seen him in slo-mo on YouTube eleventy-twelve times and decided that he'd be better off in front of the beak. If so the fact that District Judge Wickham disallowed Nicola Fisher's statement as evidence because she couldn't be arsed to show up and stand by it would suggest that he might well have something there.

* Actually I just eat roo. No need to shoot one when they're in the supermarket pre-shot and cut up for your convenience. But I understand that shooting them in the face, or at least the head, is considered more humane. Not that I'd tell Nicola that if I did go out and commit Skippycide just to piss her off.
¹ Pun very much intended.
² And that one.
³ Yes, that too.


JuliaM said...

The problem is, though, what can he do? Should she be allowed to use her gender to act as obnoxiously as she likes, secure in the knowledge that she's safe from the sort of treatment a male protestor would get?

I've a lingering feeling of sympathy for Sgt Smellie; if you don't want to get bitten, don't try to run with the pack.

JuliaM said...

But the juryless trial, that is a worry. Odd that no explanation was given, too...

dickiebo said...

Surely a 'District Judge' is the old-fashioned Stipendiary Magistrate - who do not sit with a jury!
Watching the vid, I thought that Del Boy dismissing her with a backhand flip may have been understandable - even if only to get her out of range - but the baton strike was surely unnecessary and illegal!

Angry Exile said...

JuliaM, like I said I'm not far of the bloke's size and I reckon I could have dealt with her largely by standing there and taking whatever she could throw at me in the way of verbal abuse, happy snaps and even fruit juice, especially if they gave me body armour to wear. Then she looks like the unreasonable and possibly deranged lunatic and the cop looks like the put upon plod and far closer to being the victim than she. Not smart, not smart at all.

dickiebo, you might be right about that. It's being held in a Mags' Court after all, which was a point I'd missed on first reading, and a bit of Googling seems to confirm that a District Judge (Magistrates Court) is what was a Stipendiary Magistrate. Presumably Sgt Smellie knew he could have a jury trial and chose not to.

JuliaM said...

"Presumably Sgt Smellie knew he could have a jury trial and chose not to."

Can't think why... ;)

Anonymous said...

But surely if she is not there to give evidence the case should be dismissed as it would be for anyone else (except police officer), she can talk about her story for 26k but not in front of a court.

Related Posts with Thumbnails