Jenny and I left Marlborough Street Magistrates Court and I walked her back to Meard Street before making my way back to the police station clutching the envelope containing the statements, Incident Report Book and the all important arrest warrant.
Back at the station, I filed the paperwork in the Outstanding Warrants filing cabinet, made a note of the relevant correspondence number in the Warrant Register and then went to the Communications Room to find someone who could actually enter the ‘Wanted’ information onto the relatively new Police National Computer system (PNC)….By 1130 am it was all done and Jina was officially a wanted man! Unfortunately we didn’t have an address for him but surely it would not be long before this desperado would come to police attention and then he could be ‘Nicked!’
For the next two weeks I was expecting pretty much daily to hear that he’d been arrested….But it seemed that ‘The White Horse’ was maintaining a low profile. I kept in touch with Jenny but they had not seen or heard from him since the day of his assaults….And quite frankly, that suited them very well…..By the time a full month had elapsed since I obtained the warrant, Jina had pretty much left my thoughts…..Then one day I received a message “Your man has been arrested in South London and the station officer there wants to know what you want him to do next”….I contacted the relevant station and spoke to the station officer there. It seems that Jina had been stopped and questioned about a routine and unrelated matter….The officer had performed a computer check before letting him go and the PNC revealed his ‘wanted’ status….I had visions that I might be required to go to the station myself and bring him back to the West End but that was apparently not required of me….He would be kept in custody overnight, and the prison van crew would arrange for him to transferred to Marlborough Street Court the following morning….So it was in the holding cell at Marlborough Street court at about 1015am the next morning that I met Norbert AKA Jina, AKA The White Horse for the very first time, and I think it’s fair to say that neither of us was greatly impressed with the other.
Norbert stood a little under 6ft tall, he was in his early to mid thirties, slim, with long straight fair hair and wore a long loose, white, cotton top and white baggy cotton trousers. He spoke good English but with a heavy German accent ….It seems he was most concerned as to whether his followers had shown up to support him and I rather assumed that the ten or so young, mostly European people dressed in a very similar style to Norbert, who had congregated in the public hall of the court, were they.
I asked him if he knew why he had been arrested and he denied all knowledge of the alleged assaults “This is obviously some sort of mistake or misunderstanding, officer and we will clear it up in court.” I tried to explain that he would be asked about three assaults that it was alleged he had committed at Midas Graphics….and if he denied them then he would almost certainly be remanded in custody for a full medical report to be made…..But Norbert was adamant that “This mistake will be easily rectified.”
Norbert’s case was called quite early on, I stepped into the witness box and he was brought from the large secure holding area into the dock of No. 1 court and he stood before Mr Hopkins. The clerk read out the three offences….Mr Hopkins looked up from his papers and observed Norbert sternly. “You have heard the offences that it’s alleged you have committed….What do you have to say about them?”
“I have nothing to say about them.” Replied Norbert.
“Are you denying the allegations?”
“I can’t admit or deny something that I know nothing about!”
“Very well, we will enter a plea of “”Not Guilty”” and the case will be heard in due course….In the meantime you will remain in custody and I am ordering a full mental and medical report on you.” With that, Mr Hopkins turned to me “Where is he from, Officer?”
“He’s a West German national, Your Worship.”
“In that case I want you to speak to the Home Office about him….I want them to issue an IM3 form to him so that he can be deported in the event of the case against him being proved. Take him down!”….Norbert was led quietly away to begin a week in prison and he had plainly already succeeded in annoying Mr. Hopkins.
A week later and we were all back in court….Norbert was once more stood in the dock and I was once more in the witness box…..On the far side of the court the medical report was read to Mr. Hopkins….Basically, Norbert was most certainly an eccentric individual….But he was NOT clinically ill or insane. “Very well, last week you heard the allegations against you, do you still deny them?”
“I still know nothing about them”
“These allegations were made against you after an altercation with the people in Midas Graphics some weeks ago….If you admit the assaults then this court will hear the brief facts from the officer and I can deal with the matter today….If you wish to plead not guilty then the matter must be remanded to a later date….And since I feel you may flee the country in the meantime, you will remain In custody, do you understand?”
“Yes, of course! But how can I admit something of which I have no knowledge?”
“Very well, you will be remanded in custody again until next week!”
This same scenario was played out for a total of four weeks…..This meant that Norbert had already spent a month in prison for the offence of Common Assault….An offence that would normally be punished by a relatively small fine.
On the fifth week he appeared once more in court but on this occasion a defence solicitor stood up and announced that he would be representing him….And this was no ordinary solicitor….This man was one of two brothers who were very well know for representing extremely dodgy clients…..Indeed the word “Shyster” could well have been invented especially for their way of practicing law.
The exchange between the defence and the bench was immediately adversarial. “With the greatest respect, Your Worship, my client has already been held in custody for a month on charges that would normally result in minor fines….Even if the allegations were founded….Which my client strongly denies….I really must insist that you consider allowing him to be released on bail until the case can be heard”
The arguments between the bench and the defence went backwards and forwards but eventually it was agreed that bail WOULD be allowed with a large surety in place and strict bail conditions which included him reporting daily to a police station…..Eventually the conditions were agreed…..I spoke to Norbert and made sure that he specifically understood EXACTLY what those conditions were….”And if you break them Norbert, you will be back in custody again….Do you understand?”
“Yes, of course” and off he went to be greeted by his followers.
I returned to the police station and sent the required message off to the police station where he had elected to report to…..A week later I received a message that he had completely failed to appear at the designated police station…..So Norbert was once again circulated as a wanted man!
At this point I am going to short circuit the story somewhat….Over the next few months Norbert completely refused to adhere to his bail conditions….This meant that he was arrested by a number of different police officers at various locations around the country and then promptly released by the various local magistrates benches who seemed convinced that he had simply misunderstood the conditions of his bail….They would again carefully explain the conditions to him….He would promise to comply….and then completely ignore them!
On the first such occasion he was actually found and arrested riding a bicycle along the hard shoulder of the M1 Motorway with his girlfriend balanced precariously on the handlebar….This ludicrous situation persisted until on one occasion he was arrested once more in London and was returned Marlborough Street Court to appear once again before Mr. Hopkins….At last the bench and deference agreed that he would be held in custody once more….But the date of his hearing would be at the earliest opportunity….A date was fixed for one month hence….So by the time these offences of common assault came before the court, Norbert had already been in prison for some eight weeks.
By now this long running saga had attracted a great deal of attention….No. 1 court was packed on the afternoon of the trial and because I was not being called as a witness, I could sit back and enjoy the spectacle….The public gallery was packed with curious onlookers and Norbert’s cotton clad supporters….The body of the court was packed with court staff and officers who had been following the story with a mixture of amusement and bemusement….The drama of the occasion was enhanced still further as when Norbert was produced from the secure holding area a thunderstorm that been threatening throughout the morning suddenly and ferociously broke in the skies above Marlborough St. Court….The court room itself dated from the late Victorian era and there was a large glass dome fixed in the centre of the ceiling. The intense lightning flashes lit up the entire room…..There were one or two rather worried court staff who wondered if the case should actually be called off until the storm had passed….But Mr Hopkins had plainly had enough and he wanted this case over.
The whole case would really rest on the evidence given by Jenny….The other witnesses could be heard but her evidence would be crucial….I had already forewarned her of the reputation of the defending solicitor and I had told her that he would not be above trying to smear her character in order to win his case….Jenny was plainly nervous but assured me that she would not rise to any bait that may be dangled in front of her….When she was called to the witness box she positively oozed steely determination….The prosecution solicitor went over her evidence and she was cool, calm, professional and restrained…..Then the Defence solicitor tried to pick holes in her evidence….But she stuck rigidly to her evidence and he failed to make her waver at all….But he had a trick up his sleeve….”You have given the court this evidence…..but the REAL truth is that your evidence is a complete tissue of lies, isn’t it?”
“No Sir, I’ve told the truth.”
“But you haven’t, have you?….I put it it to you that you have deliberately lied to this court and made these wholly false allegations against the accused because you want to hide the fact that it is YOU who are lying to this court because it was YOU who made unwanted sexual advances towards the accused everythingl that has followed is because the accused rejected your unwanted advances…..That is the REAL truth, Isn’t it?”
This statement even made Mr. Hopkins look up from his papers in surprise…..Now Jenny was not a tall lady but when she realised what the defence was alleging against her, she visibly increased in stature….a bit like a puffer fish when it inflates to ward off a predator….I was concerned that she might explode in fury…..But she remained perfectly under control. “No Sir, that is most certainly not the truth….I am a happily married woman and I would no more make advances to THAT piece of slime than I would to any other piece of slime….And I am including you in that category!”
The Defence solicitor looked appealingly towards the Bench “Your Worship, I must object to those comments from the witness….They are COMPLETELY uncalled for and I demand that you reprimand her and strike those comments from the evidence.”
Mr Hopkins smiled visibly….”A defence advocate is allowed a certain latitude in an attempt to prove a client’s innocence but there are, (as you very well know) limits….In my view, if a defence advocate wishes to “dish out dirt” then he can hardly complain when the “dirt” gets thrown back in his face…..Now I WILL warn the witness not to be deliberately provocative to the defence representative….But I will also assume that if you are going to pursue this line of questioning to this witness then you will be producing firm evidence regarding these allegations YOU have just made….Are you intending to produce such evidence regarding your alleged “Unwanted Advances”
“No Sir, I cannot produce such evidence.”
“I see, and do you have any further questions for this witness”
“No further questions.”
“And the other witnesses?”
“In the light of your comments, sir. I see little point. In continuing.”
Mr Hopkins paused, steepled his fingers and said. “Then I find these offences Proved!…..You may stand down from the witness box Madam and thank you.”
Jenny looked shaken but smiled when I winked at her and gave her a thumbs up.
She had performed brilliantly under extreme pressure
There was a pause while the defence prepared a statement for the mitigation of punishment which centred largely on the amount of time Norbert had already spent in a cell….Norbert spent no more time in a cell for these offences but he was ordered to pay compensation and substantial costs….The whole episode would hit him hard in his pocket….And the IM3 form served by the Home Office meant that he was liable for deportation.
I stayed in friendly touch with Jenny and her staff until I eventually left West End Central….I very much doubt if Norbert ever paid either the compensation or the costs and I don’t believe that mattered to the staff at Midas Graphics….They had their day in court and emerged victorious … I never saw or heard from Norbert ever again.Recommended1 recommendationPublished in