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    Drew Payne
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The World Out There - 16. Sixteen

The next day, which would turn out to finally be the last day of Liam’s trial, he was again brought back to the Crown Court by that prison van. As the van stopped outside the courtyard at the back of the Crown Court, he knew where he was because he could hear that crowd shouting for him. He expected the banging on the outside of the van - it always happened - but the banging suddenly escalated. Something crashed against the outside of the narrow window, so loud that he feared the glass would break. Then the banging got louder. For a moment the van itself was being shaken from side-to-side, physically rocked on its own suspension. In panic he pushed himself into the furthest corner of that tiny cubicle. Could they get inside? What would they do to him?

The next moment, the van’s horn sounded in repeated short bursts, and there was shouting from inside the van. Then, it moved forward, suddenly jerking into movement as the attack on the outside of it faded. Another moment later, the van stopped again, but this time its engine turned off. Only a few moments after that, the door to his cubicle was unlocked and opened. The large man, in his dark blue uniform, filled the open doorway. Every time he had been brought here, that man had been inside the van, today was no exception.

“Come on kid - it’s showtime,” the man said.

Silently he had stood up and followed the man out of the van. As Liam exited onto the steps to leave the back of the van, he saw and heard the crowd on the other side of the iron gates. There were four police officers trying, and almost failing, to hold them back because the crowd was the largest he had seen there. It was three, four people deep, and all of them shouting angrily at him. There were probably many different chants there, but all he heard was, “Hang him! Hang him!”

Panic jumped up into his throat, his chest tightened, and he tasted bitter in his mouth. He started to back away from them and to retreat into the van.

“No you don’t,” the man hissed at him, grabbing tight hold of Liam’s arm. “This is your fault,” he said as he almost dragged Liam out of the van and the few steps across the courtyard until he was pulled inside the building.

Again they took him into the white tiled cell in the building’s basement, the same cell as the other days.

For so long he was just left there on his own, staring at those white tiled walls, just his own thoughts for company. What would life in prison be like? Would he survive? Who would help him there? He couldn’t stop his mind going over and over this. He was guilty of killing Rhys Clarke - he did it - but what would happen to him, how would they punish him? It was so unreal, as if this was a dream and he could wake up from it. But he was being stupid. This was real, and this was his own fault.

His trial had been so confusing. There were witnesses he recognised, and ones he didn’t. Again and again, he hadn’t recognised what they said. Many of the witnesses, even the ones he knew, had talked about things he didn’t remember or didn’t recognise. So often he’d sat there in the dock, trying not to rock from side-to-side on those cushions, not recognising who they were talking about - they didn’t seem to be describing him. So many times, it was as if he was watching someone else’s trial. Why hadn’t they talked about him, who he really was?

His swirling thoughts were interrupted by the cell’s door being unlocked and opened and Mark Hiller walking into the room.

“How are you doing?” Mark Hiller asked him, as he sat down on the bench next to him.

“I don’t know,” Liam quietly answered. He trusted this man now. Mark Hiller had always been honest with him.

“That’s only normal.”

“Why didn’t Miss James give evidence? They got Mr Stein and Mr Bowley, but not her.” The question had been bubbling away at the back of his mind, but this was the first chance he got to ask Mark Hiller.

“I’m afraid she hasn’t been well. She wasn’t well enough to give evidence,” Mark Hiller quietly said.

“Is she sick?”

“Not in that way. She had a sort of breakdown,” Mark Hiller’s voice remained quiet.

“Is that because of what I did?”

“No Liam, it’s because of a lot of things. She blames herself for what happened.”

“But I killed him.”

“Liam, it’s not your fault. This is all very complicated.” Mark Hiller gently placed his hand on Liam’s shoulder. But Liam knew he was lying. It was a nice and kind lie but still a lie. It was all his fault, and he couldn’t undo it.

When the court guards came to take him up to the courtroom, Mark Hiller had to leave him there.

They took him up those narrow stairs that led straight up to the courtroom’s Dock. As he stepped in there, he’d looked around himself and saw that the courtroom was packed full of people. The public seats were full: far more people pushed into them than there had been before. People squeezed up tightly next to each other. On the front row of the public seats was Gemma Clarke, Rhys’s mother, glaring angrily at him. There was so much hate in her expression that Liam looked away as a sudden panic seized at him. That hate was so frightening. Then he saw Mark Hiller, sitting on the bench behind Mrs Stewart-Graham, who smiled back at him.

Liam had sat down on the chair there, with its two cushions lifting him up, meaning his feet no longer touched the floor.

The jury were the first to return to the courtroom. They slowly filed in, one at a time, taking their seats on the jury box. Most of them didn’t look in his direction, like most other mornings there. They always seemed to do this most mornings, to deliberately not look at him, only a few of them glancing his way. That morning only two of the jury glanced his way, a man and a woman, and both of them had angry expressions on their faces, and both of them only glanced at him momentarily.

There was a long moment after their arrival when nothing else happened. There were a lot of hurried whispered words and bored coughs rippling around the courtroom. At first, Liam had looked around himself, trying to fill those empty moments, but when he caught the glazes from the people filling the court, angry or pitying or even disgusted expressions on those people’s faces, he’d returned to staring down at his feet. It was safe not to look at those people, though he wished he could be a million miles away from here.

Then, a male voice boomed out, “All rise!” And as they all stood up, the judge swept into the courtroom, taking his seat behind his own desk.

Everyone hurriedly stood to their feet - people pushing against each other in the overcrowded public seats, while Liam pushed himself off his seat in The Dock.

“Be seated,” the judge told them all, after everyone was finally stood up.

Liam struggled back onto his chair, pushing himself back onto those cushions, and then looked out over the edge of The Dock. He looked at the court in front of him.

The judge turned towards the jury and said, “Will the foreman of the jury please rise?”

A middle-aged woman, with carefully styled hair and wearing an electric blue suit, stood up and stared back at the judge.

“Madam Foreman, have you all reached a verdict that you are unanimous on?” the judge asked.

“Fucking hang him!” A woman’s voice rang out in the courtroom, an angry voice filling the air for a moment. He glanced over and saw it was Gemma Clarke, now stood up from her seat in the front of the public seats, her whole body shaking and shouting at the courtroom, while the man next to her tried to pull her back down on her seat.

“Silence in court! Silence in court!” the judge boomed out at the courtroom. “I will have the courtroom cleared! Even at this late stage.”

Gemma Clarke slowly sat down again on her seat, but she turned to face Liam, a frighteningly angry expression now on it. Liam stared down at his feet again, trying to block out that woman’s anger.

“I will repeat myself, as I did before we were uncivilly interrupted. Madam Foreman, have you all reached a verdict that you are unanimous on?” the judge said.

“Yes, we have,” she replied, her voice flat and level, though loud enough to carry across the courtroom.

“And what is your verdict on the charge of murder?”

“Guilty.”

Copyright © 2021 Drew Payne; All Rights Reserved.
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Given the slant and heavily skewed trial, one can hardly have expected anything different from the jury. Now Liam must be sentenced, and I suppose there will be pressure to see him sentenced as an adult. Yet we know he will one day be paroled. 

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22 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

Given the slant and heavily skewed trial, one can hardly have expected anything different from the jury. Now Liam must be sentenced, and I suppose there will be pressure to see him sentenced as an adult. Yet we know he will one day be paroled. 

Liam did stab to death another boy in front of a crowd of witnesses, yet there is so much going on here he doesn't know about.

But things don't end here.

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Given the totally unfair trial Liam received, the jury was always going to find him guilty. Now we have the sentencing to come from the Judge, who will probably sentence him as an adult.

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4 minutes ago, chris191070 said:

Given the totally unfair trial Liam received, the jury was always going to find him guilty. Now we have the sentencing to come from the Judge, who will probably sentence him as an adult.

And a child of ten can be tried as an adult, which has disgusted me since I first found it out, too many years ago.

One of the things I wanted to write about here is that a thirteen year old isn't an adult and can't take part in their trial, the way an adult can.

Edited by Drew Payne
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4 minutes ago, Drew Payne said:

And a child of ten can be tried as an adult, which has disgusted me since I first found it out, too many years ago.

One of the things I wanted to write about here is that a thirteen year old isn't an adult and can't take part in their trial, the way an adult can.

Wow, I didn't know that.

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1 minute ago, chris191070 said:

Wow, I didn't know that.

They won't be sent to an adult prison but they are tried in an adult court. I still feel very uncomfortable about that.

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