Sisters 65

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CHAPTER 65
Once again, we trooped into the court, taking our little block of seats, and once again we got to see the unusual spectacle of a defence barrister doing precisely sod-all.

Angharad had delivered a whole salvo of bombshells, if bombs came in salvoes, rhat is, and I would have expected any honest lawyer to have picked it all apart, chewing away on everything from the fact that she seemed to have no evidence other than her memory to the vindictive nature she had demonstrated in her outbursts.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. As he droned on about something else with no real relevance, the judge removed his glasses to rub his eyes as Angharad sat patiently in her chair.

“Would Counsel please approach the bench?”

The defence man shrugged, glancing over his shoulder at the Dock, and complied. There was a little to-and-fro I couldn’t hear, the defence shrugged their shoulders, and returned to their seat. For his part, the judge called out to Carwyn.

“Mr Roberts. Learned counsel has informed me that you have imposed constraints on the defence you wish him to offer. I will confess I am at a loss to understand why. My function here is to ensure that each side presents their case in as full and fair a way as possible, so that no shadow may fall on the correctness or otherwise of any verdict that may be arrived at by the good ladies and gentlemen of the jury. So far, there appear to have been a significant lack of any energy or rigour in the case presented by your counsel. Do you have an explanation that does not touch on matters better reserved for the witness box and the oath?”

The bastard just looked at him, face blank, and then gave a slight smile.

“I will deliver my defence myself, your honour”

The judge shook his head as if to clear it.

“Does learned counsel have any further matters to put to the witness?”

“No, your honour”

“May she then be discharged?”

What I thought of as our man bobbed up as well, both sides agreeing that yes, they were finished with the old wreck and she could head off back to her place under a bridge. The nurse fussed around her for a little while, before Ambrose walked across from the public gallery to take the handles of her chair and wheel her out. As he started, she reached back to put a hand on his, whispering something to him, then turned to look across at the two of us. Her face worked a few times, and then there was just a ghost of a smile, her head cocking slowly to one side, and the glint of a tear, before she turned away again as the monk pushed her out and away from the court.

Siân squeezed my hand.

“I have to go to her, Lainey. Just this once. I might never see her again, and….”

She was off and away, hanky out as she hurried off. Vicky leant across to me.

“Leave her, love. Not now. I’ll go and check in a minute, OK?”

I was caught. Vicky hurried off, Blake sliding into her seat as Dad shuffled over, and Carwyn made his way to the dock.

“Do you wish to swear or affirm?”

His glare could have withered grass.

“What precisely do you anticipate a good Christian would reply?”

‘Jesus wept’ was my first thought, but I kept silent as the thin man swore his oath on his book, first checking it, no doubt to confirm it as an acceptable version. Our man was straight at him.

“I will be as direct as I can, Mr Roberts. On any occasion, any at all, have you had sexual intercourse of any kind with your wife Angharad Roberts?”

“That answer should be abundantly obvious, as our daughter the whore and pervert sits in the public gallery with her accomplice in perversion and fornication”

His head turned towards me as he reached out to point. His composure cracked just a little as he saw I was without the wife.

“Well, was sitting”

Our man nodded.

“Can we take your answer to my question as being a yes, Mr Roberts?”

“You may”

“Thank you”

“Has such intercourse always followed upon her clear consent?”

“Ephesians 5, verses 22 to 24. Wives should submit to their husbands”

“That was not my question, Mr Roberts. Has such intercourse always followed on her clear consent?”

“I have already given you my answer, and it is from a higher source than you could ever seek to use against it”

The judge looked across at Carwyn. “Answer counsel’s question, bearing in mind the oath you have taken”

Carwyn stared back, a flat, almost emotionless glaze to his eyes, before turning back to our man after around five seconds.

“My wife’s consent or otherwise is irrelevant, both within the nature of the marital contract and as declared in Scripture”

A sigh, as the prosecution shook his head, before trying again.

“Mr Roberts. I put it to you that on a number of occasions you engaged in sexual intercourse with your wife not only without her explicit consent but actually following her explicit and clearly-expressed refusal of that consent. Is that correct?”

“her consent or otherwise is not relevant”

The judge almost barked his next words.

“Roberts! These proceedings will not be reduced to a farce. You were cautioned on your arrest, and in interview, and if you continue to show contempt towards this court I will fulfil the warning you were given, and direct the jury to draw such conclusions from your failure to answer as will appear appropriate to them. Have we reached a state of understanding in this matter?”

Our man smiled ever so lightly. “Be aware that the law on rape within marriage was amended in 1991. Yes or no, Mr Roberts?”

There was a twitch to his mouth this time, but Carwyn converted it into a sneer.

“Yes”

“And in the case of Delyth Siencyn, may I remind you that the marital rape exemption would not have applied due to their being no state of matrimony in existence at any time”

“In the eyes of the Lord…”

“ROBERTS!”

The judge was leaving no doubt in anyone’s eyes or mind that he was severely unhappy with the trial’s progress, and in a moment of insight I realised what my bastard of a father-in-law was trying to do. This wasn’t about relying on words in a magic book, invoking a higher power, but actually about getting the presiding judge so pissed off with his behaviour that he would have a case for appeal on the grounds of judicial bias. In the meantime, of course, he was more than happy to drag his victims into open court for more fun. I was beginning to see what had finished and polished Angharad’s character, if not actually formed it, and it was a profoundly strange experience to find myself coming to terms with her thinking. I was always sympathetic to the victims of crime, but my mother-in-law had always driven that from me. Now, at last, I was beginning to see the woman behind the harridan.

The case rolled on. Questions were asked about rape, about violence, about buggery and bodily harm, and Carwyn replied with religious quotes. The Judge intervened each time, the question was rephrased, and eventually the admission was made. Eventually, indeed, it was over. The only surprising thing, in the end, was that Angharad had obviously told the Heddlu Gogledd Cymru about his little library, and our man produced several magazines and textbooks as exhibits. That was the only moment I saw the Defence try and earn their fee by seeking to argue that the papers be excluded.

Naturally enough, the judge rejected his application, and our man seemed to take relish in reading out selected quotes. I noticed that of the three passages, dealing with selecting the right ‘rod’ to use so as to leave the skin of the victim unspoiled, two concerned the ‘disciplining’ of children.

I had a bad moment then, seeing Chris nearly naked in the back of that van, Omar in hospital, a lad with skin scrubbed raw, and hearing again the comments from Kevin to Angharad about letting their child be just that, naturally, happily, without chastisement.

It ran down, finally, and the judge simply adjourned for half an hour for what he actually referred to as a comfort break before the closing addresses. I suspected that ‘comfort’ in his case would involve a large number of very deep breaths to call back his temper. I found Vicky and my wife waiting in the little café again, Siân’s eyes red raw. I simply walked over and stood by her. Letting her arms go around my hips before pulling her head to my belly, her ear to the new life growing there.

“She’s… she’s breaking, Lainey. Ambrose would have her away to the island again, but he says, he says she can’t stay there. They don’t have the facilities for… for a terminal case. He knows a hospice, down by Cricieth and…”

She broke down just then, for about a minute, and Vicky pushed a chair under me so that I could hold my wife, my love, properly when she was in such need. Vicky was only a little brighter.

“She’s nearly gone, Lainey. Nothing much left of her. All covered up with the blankets and that, but when you get closer, close enough to see her hands, her throat, well. Kev’s sorting a place for her at the hospice and we’ll get her transferred, hopefully later today. They’ve got her in a little ambulance outside at the moment”

“Vicky, you can’t keep doing all this for us”

She gave me a sudden glare. “And why the hell not? You gave me the best man in the world, and my own family, not to mention the best wife in the world for my favourite bloody cousin! We’ll sort it. And when… when it’s all done, all finished, we take the children…”

She stood up at that point, looking down at the two of us huddled together, and indicated our bulging middles.

“We take all of our children, and we go and find a decent villa, and we celebrate life together. Now, Siân love: do you want to stay with your Mum, just for now? Lainey, they’ll be back in for the wrapping up or whatever it’s called. You need to be there, you need to show that bastard what life is, what love means”

Blake was at my shoulder, as well as two other big men. My ‘boy’ squeezed my shoulder.

“Yes indeed, Lainey, and to show him what it really means to be a man”

They took my hands and drew me away from my lover, back to see the door finally close on Carwyn Roberts.



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