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SCENE THREE

 

(In one of the courtrooms of the Old Bailey. It is the first day of Vole's trial. The court is in session. The judge is presiding. The jury, consisting of nine men and three women, are in the jury-box. Leonard Vole is sitting in the prisoner's box between two guards. The counsels for the Prosecution are in their seats. As to the counsels for the Defence, the leading counsel Sir Wilfred, is late.)

Court Clerk: Leonard Stephen Vole, you are charged on indictment that you on the 14-th day of October in the County of London murdered Emily Jane French. How say you, Leonard Stephen Vole, are you guilty or not guilty?

Vole: Not guilty.

Court Clerk: Members of the Jury! The prisoner stands indicted for that he on the 14-th day of October murdered Emily Jane French. To this indictment he has pleaded «not guilty», and it is your charge to say, having heard the evidence, whether he be guilty or not.

Judge: Members of the jury, by the oath which you have just taken you swore to try this case on the evidence. You must shut out from your minds everything, except what will take place in this court. (To the prosecutor): You may proceed for the Prosecution, Mr Myers.

Myers (rising): May it please you, my Lord. (Addressing the jury):I appear in this case with my learned friend, Mr Barton, for the Prosecution. And my learned friends Sir Wilfred Robart and Mr Brogan-Moore for the Defence. The facts in this case are simple, and to a point, not in dispute. You will hear how the prisoner made the acquaintance of Mrs Emily French, a woman of fifty-six, how he was treated by with kindness, and even affection. On the night of October the 14-th last between 9:30 and 10:00 Mrs French was murdered. Medical testimony will be introduced to prove that death was caused by a blow from a blunt and heavy instrument and it is the case for the Prosecution that the blow was dealt by the prisoner Leonard Vole!

Vole: That's not true! I didn't do it!

Myers: Among witnesses you hear police evidence, also the evidence of Mrs French's housekeeper Janet MacKenzie, and from the medical laboratory experts, and the evidence of the murdered woman's solicitor, who drew up her final will. I will now call Chief Inspector Hearne, Criminal Investigation Department of New Scotland Yard.

Usher: Chief Inspector Hearne! Chief Inspector Hearne! Chief Inspector

Hearne! (Chief Inspector Hearne enters the witness-box. After he is sworn in he is asked to give testimony.)

Hearne: From the body temperature and other factors we placed the time

of death at between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. Approximately thirty minutes after Janet MacKenzie, the housekeeper, returned home and called us. Death was instantaneous, caused by one blow from a heavy and blunt instrument. (Sir Wilfred enters the courtroom and takes his seat. Chief Inspector Hearne has given his testimony and is examined by Mr Myers.

Myers: Were there any signs of a struggle?

Hearne: No, just one blow.

Myers: Would that indicate to you that the murderer had taken Mrs French by surprise?



Sir Wilfred (rising): My Lord, I must object. My learned friend refers to the assailant as the murderer, but we have not yet determined whether the assailant was a man or a woman. It could conceivably have been the murderess.

Judge: Mr Myers, it seems that Sir Wilfred has joined in time to catch you on a point of grammar. Please, rephrase your question.

Myers: Yes, My Lord, is it your opinion that the assailant, whether he, she or it… had taken Mrs French by surprise?

Sir Wilfred (to the judge): My Lord, I am taken by surprise that my

learned friend should attempt to solicit from the witness an opinion, and

not a fact.

Judge: Quite so. You'll have to do better than that, Mr Myers.

Myers: My Lord, I withdraw the question entirely. Is that better?

Sir Wilfred: That's much better.

Myers: Anyway, Inspector, let us proceed with the facts in the case. After

establishing the cause and the time of death, what did you then do?

Hearne: A search was made. Photographs were taken and the premises were fingerprinted.

Myers: What fingerprints did you discover?

Hearne: I found the fingerprints of Mrs French, those of Janet MacKenzie, and some which later proved to be those of Leonard Vole.

Myers: No others?

Hearne: No others.

Myers: What made you think that a robery had been commited?

Hearne: Things were strewn about, and a window had been broken near

the catch. There was glass on the floor, and some fragments were found

outside. The glass outside was not consistent with the window having been forced from the outside.

Myers: What are you saying is that someone attempted to make it look as if the window had been forced from the outside? Isn't that so?

Sir Wilfred: My Lord, I must object. My learned friend is putting words in the witness's mouth.

Judge (to Myers): Quite. Don't you think so, Mr Myers?

Myers: Yes, My Lord. Inspector, was any of the murdered woman's property missing?

Hearne: According to the housekeeper nothing was missing.

Myers: In your experience, Inspector, when burglars, or burglaresses break into a house, do they leave without taking anything?

Hearne: No, sir.

Myers: Will you produce a jacket, Inspector? (He refers to a jacket that has been found by the police in Leonard Vole's house and is offered as evidence.)

Hearne: Yes, sir. (The clerk passes the jacket to Chief Inspector Hearne.)

Myers: Is that the jacket?

Hearne: Yes, sir.

Myers ( to the judge): That is exhibit one, my Lord. Where did you find

this, Inspector?

Hearne: That is the jacket found in the prisoner's flat which I handed to our Lab to test for bloodstains.

Myers: And did you find any bloodstains?

Hearne: Yes. Though an attempt had been made to wash them out.

Myers: What tests did the Laboratory make?

Hearne: First to determine if the stains were made by human blood, then to clarify it by group or type.

Myers: And was the blood of a particular group or type?

Hearne: Yes, sir. It is Type O.

Myers: And did you subsequently test the blood of the dead woman?

Hearne: Yes, sir.

Myers: What type was that?

Hearne: The same. Type 0.

Myers: Thank you, Inspector. No further questions. (Now Sir Wilfred rises and starts a cross-examination.)

Sir Wilfred: Inspector, you say the only fingerprints you found were those of Mrs French, Janet MacKenzie and the prisoner Leonard Vole. In your experience when a burglar breaks in, does he usually leave fingerprints, or does he wear gloves?

Hearne: He wears gloves.

Sir Wilfred: So the absence of fingerprints in the case of robbery would hardly surprise you.

Hearne: No, sir.

Sir Wilfred: Can't we than surmise that a burglar might have entered what

was presumably an empty house, might have suddenly encountered Mrs

French and struck her, then realizing she was dead, panicked and fled without taking anything?

Myers: I submit, my Lord, that it is entirely impossible to guess what went

on in the mind of some entirely imaginary burglar with or without gloves.

Judge: Let us not surmise, Sir Wilfred, but confine ourselves to facts.

Sir Wilfred: Inspector, when you questioned the prisoner as to the stains on his jacket, did he not show you a recently healed scar on his wrist and tell you that he had cut himself with a kitchen knife while slicing bread?

Hearne: Yes, sir. That is what he said.

Sir Wilfred: And were you told the same thing by the prisoner's wife?

Hearne: Yes, sir, but afterwards…

Sir Wilfred (interrupting him): Just a simple «yes» or «no», please. Did the prisoner's wife show you a knife and tell you that her husband had cut his wrist when slicing bread?

Hearne: Yes, sir.

Sir Wilfred (pointing to the knife on the table in front of him): I will ask you to examine this knife, Inspector. (A court clerk passes the knife to the Chief Inspector.)

Sir Wilfred: Now, then, with such a knife as was displayed, might it not inflict a cut that would bleed profusely?

Hearne: Yes, sir, it might.

Sir Wilfred: Now, Inspector, you have stated that the bloodstains on the

prisoner's jacket were analysed, as was the blood of Mrs French, and they were both found to be of the same group, Group 0.

Hearne: That is correct.

Sir Wilfred: However, if the prisoner's blood were also of the same group,

then the stains on his jacket might have resulted from the household accident he described to you?

Hearne: Yes.

Sir Wilfred: Did you examine the prisoner's blood, Inspector?

Hearne: No, sir.

Sir Wilfred (taking up a paper): I have here a certificate stating that Leonard Stephen Vole is a blood donor at the North London Hospital and that his blood is Group 0.

(General excitement in the courtroom: the jurors sigh with relief, Leonard Vole leans back and smiles happily, the public exchange impressions.)

 


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 1052


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