Although I don’t encourage you to, I will fully understand if you decide to skip this entry. After all, there has been quite a lot written about weddings in the last few days and I would hate to add to your misery if you are already sick to the back teeth of them. On the other hand, this is a story with a difference.
As a lawyer (‘so-called-lawyer’, some might say) I have never done much criminal work. Although I at one time worked for one of the largest firms of criminal lawyers* in Manchester, I had very little involvement with that side of the business. I was therefore somewhat surprised to be asked to represent a young man accused of a very serious crime indeed.
The offence took place around the time of a royal wedding, which would make it memorable anyway. What makes it all the more memorable is that the client’s father is a noted royal photographer** whose work had been all over the newspapers in the preceding days and weeks.
It was a very sad case from every perspective. The young man concerned had just passed his driving test. One tragic lunchtime one of his schoolfriends asked him to give her a lift home to collect some coursework which she had forgotten. There was little time for him to get her home and back to school in time for the afternoon lessons, but he tried.
Sadly, he was in too much of a hurry, lost control of the car and collided with a lorry. He suffered serious injuries and spent a significant amount of time. The girl, tragically, died at the scene.
It was an interesting case from a legal perspective, because the client had no memory of events for at least a day before the accident and of course for several days after. He had no idea what had caused the accident and so, when charged with causing his passenger’s death, had no option but to plead ‘not guilty’.
We spent a considerable amount of time and effort both trying to establish what the cause of the accident was and in proving that his amnesia was genuine and not a convenient fiction to help his case. Fortunately, the prosecution accepted that the dilemma he found himself in was a real one. They offered a deal whereby they would not press for a jail term if he pleaded guilty – an offer he was only too pleased to accept.
This created two interesting situation. The first was that we had to leave the court by a back corridor, to escape the victim’s family and friends who clearly had not had the situation explained to them by the prosecution. And the second was that my client was placed on probation, and the probation officer was the mother of comedian Julian Clary, which meant that the case ended with the sort of tenuous celebrity that it began with.
*Not, on this occasion, an oxymoron
**There are lots of royal photographers. It isn’t worth the time and effort trying to find out which I am talking about