26. The Prosecution Finishes

After the lunch break court adjourned till 10am Monday.  We went home.  On Monday my two brothers went to court with me.  But when we arrived LE took me up to the witness room as I had to go in the box again.

When I got there Miss B asked me if I had gone on the Internet?  I said “Yes.”  Had I spoken to any newspapers?  I said “yes.”  How long did I speak to the reporter?  I replied about “45 minutes.”  She again said that was it.  I was dismissed.

The next person in the witness box was B.  I sat listening to his evidence for about an hour and then went C.  It was at this point that C told the court that he had worked at the butcher shop weekends.  I didn’t know that.  C confirmed that he had ridden the motorbike, not with Robinson, but alone.  He confirmed that Robinson did work for the butchers and that he did have a motor bike.  Then C was stood down.

The next in the box was MH.  He confirmed my story of the events of April 09.  It was quite a ruthless cross examination, but M just stood there and told the truth.  After M was finished, the Prosecution case was finished.  I think it was the Wednesday.

I cannot remember if it was Tuesday or Wednesday morning that when the jury came into court the Judge asked them “if the juror who was in the pub across the road last night kindly stand up.”  No one moved.  And again the Judge asked the same question.  Then one of the jurors stood up and the rest of the jury was sent out.  It had been reported to the police, by RK, that this juror had said to him in the pub “don’t worry we will find him guilty”.  This juror was sent home then.  The Judge and the barristers for both sides agreed that 11 jurors would continue.

 

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25. The Defence

Now, this was the part that I was really dreading, the Defence.  Miss B stood up and introduced herself and then started laying into me for the bag of lies; the fact that I was a con man, a crook; Fr Robinson was the innocent party, I am the guilty one.

As I said, I had been warned by the police, by my Barristers, do not lose your temper.  So again, I took a sip of water and replied to the jury that what I have said today is the truth.  I was asked many, many questions; each time answering, with, a sip of water and a reply that was not hurried; telling the truth and, above all, keeping very calm.

I was asked if I had gone onto the Internet to find any facts or news, about this case etc.  I said that I had and answered the questions.  The Judge then asked Miss B “if she had been on the Internet?”  When she replied “no,” he said it was about time she did, “I suggest you do it over the week end.”  Then quite suddenly Miss B said that was all for the defence.  I had kept my cool, and I did not even swear once.  I was very relieved, somewhat of an anti climax.

The Judge thanked me for my evidence and suggested that I could go home or stay.  I replied that I was going to stay till the end in the public area.  As I had waited for 49 years to get there, I didn’t want to miss the outcome.  I sat in the public seats, which were incidentally closed to the public, only families and friends of the victims.  This I thought was wonderful, one of my worst fears, did not amount to anything.

A blonde lady in front of me grasped my hand.  I don’t know who she was.  A few minutes later court was adjourned for lunch.  I walked out of the court room, where the blond lady hugged me and kissed me before walking away.  I still don’t know who she is.  I was approached by Mr H, and Miss R who shook my hand.  Mr H told me that what I had just done was the bravest thing that they had ever seen in a court of law.  Brave, no, I just told the truth and, most important of all, I kept very cool.

I would highly recommend to anyone in that position; raise the glass, it is reassuring to have something in your hand, and take a sip, to give you time to think.


24. On My Son’s Life

The door to the court opened.  I took a deep breath and walked in, head held high.  I was ushered to the witness box.  Upon my arrival the Judge, asked me if I wished to stand or be seated.  I looked straight at Robinson, who was sitting in the glass room.  As he was seated I advised the Judge that I would stand.  This is or, should I say, was my time.  Now I am in the position of telling the world what happened.

I swore an oath as an Atheist and took a sip of water.  I was instructed by the Judge to face the jury and the Judge.  At this point I turned to the Judge and took this time to apologise for the language that I was about to use.  He replied, “Mr Smith, say what you will.  I’ve heard it all before.  I will take no offence.  All answers to be made in the direction of the jury.”

Mr H asked me my name, date of birth, etc. and then went on to ask me the history of my abuse.  I stood tall, listened, took a sip of water and then answered all the questions one by one.  I did not raise my voice, as the police had asked me to try not to lose my temper.  This went on for 4 or 5 hours.  I remember thinking to myself that Mr H did not mention Robinson once.  And the other thing was, before each question was answered, I took another sip and a court lady kept coming to me to give me more water.  I was worried that I was going to need to go for a pee.  But my concentration overcame this.

Then Mr H, asked me if the man that abused me was in court.  I raised my arm and pointed straight at Robinson.  I looked at the Judge and said aloud, finger still pointing, “that man, Richard John James Robinson, is the man that abused me when I was 11 years old.”  I was questioned, “Are you sure?”  Finger still pointing , I said “My son is in this court today.  It is on my son’s life that is the man that abused me when I was 11.”

Then I dropped my arm.  Turning to the Judge, I apologised  for pointing , as it is bad manners.  He smiled.  Then Mr H said “thank you” to me and sat down.


23. Let the Fight Begin

I was phoned by LE and told to go to court on Friday, 15 October at 9am, where he would be waiting for me.  As I was very ashamed, embarrassed and horrified of giving my testimony in front of my brothers, my son volunteered to come with me to give me support.  So we went on the train, arriving at the court on time, where we met LE.  He showed us upstairs to the room for people giving evidence in the trials.  My son was allowed to go with me as his statement had been accepted by both sides prior to trial.

It is at this point that things get a bit comical.  I was asked by LE to sit and read my statement so I would know exactly what I had written.  Sounds easy, but having read ½ of the front page I was introduced to a lady from the CPS.  I started reading again.  Then one of the court officials came to me to say hello.  Again I started reading.  Then Miss R came to say hello; then Mr H came to introduce himself.  It is at this point that I told my Barristers that I cannot read my statement, as I had not completed the first page.  I told them if I don’t know what happened to me by now it’s a bad job.

I gave the statement back To LE.  Everyone then disappeared and as I stood there in the room, a call came for me to go down to the court.  I vividly remember standing outside the court door waiting my turn to go on stage.  It seemed like it was a TV episode of a crime novel.  In fact, I remember this experience must be like being on the stage, as much as being a priest was as much show business; costume, lights, action.  At no point was I scared, worried or afraid of facing my demons.  I don’t know why.  I was not at all bothered about seeing Robinson.  He can’t hurt me now.  He did then, but not now.

I was ready let the fight begin.


22. Bored, Worried, Anxious…

It was now that I was told about the priest coming from Northern Ireland to give evidence; I asked if he was for prosecution or the defence, he told me that he was for the prosecution.  His evidence was that as a Child Protection Officer in the Birmingham Diocese in 1985 he reported to the police, and the Bishop, three cases of abuse by Robinson.  He went on to explain that the church got the investigation dropped.  The police did nothing.  The church did nothing.  I was not told the name of the priest.  But after the trial I was told it was Fr McA, from Antrim.

As it happened, after the trial, I was told that Fr McA did not attend the trial, owing to ill health.  But his statement was read out and accepted by both sides.

After two hours with me the police left, saying that they would be in touch with me as to when to appear.  I spent the next 10 days bored, worried, anxious and, I would say, partly terrified waiting for my time in court.  I had had many months to get very scared about giving my story to the court.  What personally was the worst was the public gallery.  This I feared.


21. Not Allowed To Return Home

Less than 7 days to go till the trial starts and the phone goes.  L.E. on the phone asking me to go to Lichfield as soon as possible to sign my statement.  It has to be signed before 9am, 4 October 2009, the day of the trial.  It was explained to me that I had to go without delay.  So after waiting 14 months it was at this point that the Police wanted me to sign it.  Talk about waiting till the last minute.

I got on the overnight ferry to Fishgard on Friday night at 10.00 pm, arriving in Wales at 2 am Saturday morning.  I then drove on through the mountains to the Midlands.  On the way I was very nervous, scared, full of fear of the next few weeks.  I think it is the fear of the unknown that is what I was scared of.  On the drive there I decided to go to the house, in Shelfield, where the abuse occurred.

I arrived there at the house at 5.30 am.  I stopped the car, and got out to look around me.  In front of me was the house that held all the secrets.  As I stood there I looked around and I noticed the area was different to when I last was there 49 years ago.  For instance, I vividly remember the road being a lot wider, a lot longer.  Also, there were no cars in the road back in those bad old days.  I then suddenly realised that my perspective had altered, as I had grown up.  The road now is very narrow, not at all long, and that day there were, I would say, 200 cars parked in it.  The house was still there.  I told the police that I could show them the house down to one of three, as they are semi-detached, they all looked the same to me when I was 11.

I then carried on to K’s house, where I planned to stay.  I got there at 6.30am and we were having tea and toast at 7.30 am when the front door bell went.  K went to the door and two police officers walked in.  I spoke to LE.  He explained that I had to sit down and read my statement.   I found this very, very difficult, as he was loitering next to me.  So I asked K to give him tea and toast whilst I did the job.  It took me at least 45 minutes and when I was satisfied, I signed it in his presence.  It was then that he asked me what I was doing now, as I was not wanted at the trial for another 14 days.  I said that I would return to Ireland.  He then told me that I would not be allowed to go home, under no circumstances. He explained that after the trial I could claim my loss of wages for the two weeks, off the church, as they would be compensating me.

This I believed.


20. Good, Sound Advice

A week before the trial I phoned a friend of mine, he is in the legal profession in Ireland.  We spoke on the phone and I told him that I had a problem.  I had to go to court.  He told me he could not talk about the trial.  Then I told him it was in UK, not Ireland, and he asked what it was about.  I told him in less than 60 seconds; at which he said to me, “Geoff, I’ve known you for many years and I know you can stick up for yourself, but be warned by me, do not tell one lie in court or you will be found out.”  “One lie and your evidence will be rubbished.”  With this advice I was asked to go see him, upon my return, to report on the proceedings and to arrange to do a lot of interior decorating for him.  It’s nice to have a friend.  I got good, sound advice and I got work for three weeks.  Great.