TYLER IN THE DOCK
“Where’s me commission?”
“Luigi, go away!” said Dylan. “We’ve got more things to worry about than your bloody commission. Like Tyler’s murder charge, for instance.”
“Life must go on, me old chum”, grinned Luigi. “Anyway, the wife is screaming at me back home. She says you’re a crook.”
“Well, that may well be true”, said Ben, “but I think Tyler is slightly more important at the moment.”
Silence reigned in the office of Roberts McCann. The Monday newspapers were full of the murdered judge, and Tyler’s photograph adorned the front page of most of them. The gay angle had not been mentioned. A matter of time, thought Ben. It was apparently common knowledge that the old Judge swung both ways. Ben and Dylan had seen Tyler in the cells the previous evening, and he had been most distressed. If this had at one time been faintly amusing, it certainly was not any more. Tyler faced a life sentence if convicted. Ben could hardly believe what was happening. Tyler was being brought up before Eastern Magistrates that afternoon for his first court appearance. The firm would represent him.
“Dylan, we have to come clean with the police, we have to tell them what was going on”, said Ben.
“We can’t, Ben, at least not yet, we’ll be in trouble then”, said Dylan. “Let’s get Stan Baxter to do some investigating. Obviously the police think they’ve got their man, so they’ll not be doing anything.”
They had agreed to instruct Stan to do some investigative work on their behalf. Dylan had spoken to Stan already, who was anxious to help, for a fee of course.
“What about this afternoon? Who’s going to do it? Me or you?” said Ben.
“I think I should”, said Dylan. .
“OK, just don’t clown around. It’s before your friend Mr. Noble, you know.”
“Don’t worry. What about bail?” Again a lengthy silence. This was a murder charge, and the likelihood of getting bail was remote. They had to try for Tyler’s sake.
“I spoke to the bank manager this morning” said Ben. “He’s willing to extend our overdraft by one million dollars. We can offer that as security. It might work.”
“I don’t think that’ll be enough for Noble, but we can give it a go” said Dylan.
“Look, I feel sorry for Tyler and all that”, said Luigi, “but seriously, I need some commission, lads, it’s been months since I was paid.” Ben glared at him.
“Alright, Luigi, we’ll look at it. Thanks for your support, I’m sure Tyler will appreciate it”, he said, sarcastically. Dylan jumped up.
“I’ve got to go out for an hour or two”, he said. “AEL’s new night club is opening this weekend, and we seem to have triad problems already. Donny is off his head at the moment, one minute he’s agreeing to pay them off, the next he wants to tell them where to go.”
“Well, don’t forget that the hearing’s at 2.30 sharp. Don’t be late” said Ben.
“Of course not. See you later.” said Dylan, and left the office.
Ben sighed. The final pre-trial review of the Tang Clan case was to be heard the following morning by Judge Lee, who had taken over the deceased judge’s caseload. The Tang Clan was running out of money and could not afford at present to instruct Richard Yap to appear. Ben was going to have to attend instead. As if he did not have enough on his plate. It was quite a serious hearing too, the last one before trial. He was not really looking forward to seeing Mandy again either. He had not spoken to her for weeks.
He looked at his watch. Twelve o’clock. Time for an early lunch. He asked Jennifer and Cathy, the new receptionist and junior secretary respectively, whether they wanted to come with him. To his surprise and delight, they said yes. They were both gorgeous. The firm had advertised weeks ago for new staff, and fifty girls had applied. Ben had weeded them down to about five, based entirely on looks, and Patty had done the final interviews. Jennifer and Cathy were the best of the bunch. Ben had to admit that they did not really have sufficient work to justify another secretary, but as Cathy did not want that much money he decided it would be nice to have a sexy young girl about the place. Jennifer had been a great success as receptionist, especially with the criminal clerks. She was only 18. Cathy was old at 21.
Lunch certainly cheered Ben up. They went to the Japanese place around the corner from the office. Ben ordered the sashimi as he was “watching his weight”. Jennifer gallantly said that he did not have to lose weight, he was very “cuddly”. She was wearing a tight white t-shirt left little to the imagination. Despite his problems, Ben felt relaxed when talking to her. Cathy was also looking good, her little black dress failing to control her assets. Ben swallowed as she leant across for the wasabi. God, I wish I was twenty years younger, thought Ben. Unfortunately, he admitted to himself, he was old enough to be their fathers, and felt a little like a dirty old man.
Ben lingered as long as he could with the girls before he reluctantly dragged himself away and caught a taxi to Eastern Magistracy. He arrived at 2.00pm and decided to go and see Tyler in the cells before the hearing. After the usual argy-bargy with the police he managed to gain access to the cells below the court house and waited for Tyler to be led in. I wonder if Jennifer would make love with me, he thought. There may be an age gap of 29 years, but surely that was not a problem. He had experience after all and....
His reverie was interrupted by a clanging of the door and Tyler’s entrance.
“Thank you officer”, said Ben. “And how are you?” he asked Tyler. He was shocked by his appearance. Even after one night in custody Tyler looked a defeated man. His psoriasis, which was not good at the best of times, had broken out badly, and his face was covered in red blotches. Ben felt so sorry for him.
“Oh, I’m alright. Getting on well with my fellow inmates. Given out some free legal advice to clients.”
“Don’t want to be doing that, we don’t want to be sued for negligent advice”, joked Ben. “Look, don’t worry, Stan Baxter’s on the job, he’s got his team on the investigation, they’re bound to come up with something soon. And we’re going to make a bail application today. Dylan’s going to do it.”
“He’s got no chance”, said Tyler.
“Well, I know Dylan’s an idiot sometimes but he’s a good advocate when he sets his mind to it, you know that.”
“It’s not that. A Magistrate is not allowed to grant bail on a murder charge. Only a High Court judge. Didn’t they teach you anything in law school?”
“Oh. Sorry, we didn’t know. Well, we’ll go tomorrow morning before the judge to make the application. You’ll have to survive one more night with your new clients, can you manage that?”
“I suppose so. I don’t hold out much hope though, it is a murder charge.” Ben explained about the one million dollar overdraft facility and Tyler seemed suitably impressed.
“Wow, I’m worth a million dollars at last. I’ll have to ring my mother, she’ll be so proud.”
“Yeah, well, just hang on, we’ll get you out somehow. This hearing today will just be a formality then, I doubt they’ll take a plea today.” The officer knocked on the door. “Time to go, I’ll see you upstairs.”
Tyler was led away by the officer, and Ben was let out of the cells. He caught the lift to the 6th floor and Court Number One. He opened the door to the court and was staggered by the number of people there. Lawyers and press, most of them. He noticed Haynes at the back of the court, grinning at him. The court would in normal circumstances be virtually empty in the afternoon. Ben walked grimly to the front bench and sat down. The chatter in the room was deafening. The prosecutor, Thomas Lee, who Ben knew quite well, came to sit down beside him.
“Hello, Ben. Sorry about all of this” said Thomas.
“Yeah, it’s not your fault, Thomas. You know Tyler had nothing to do with it?”
“Tyler’s a good guy, Ben, I was shocked to hear about this. Frankly, though, the evidence seems overwhelming against him.”
“He’s been framed, Thomas. Either that or the police are incompetent, or corrupt, or both.”
Before Thomas had a chance to answer, the court clerk shouted “all rise”, and Magistrate Patrick Noble entered the court. Resplendent in a new Hitler-style moustache, he looked like the hanging judge to Ben’s eyes. Noble sat down and cast his keen eyes around the court. His eyes were gleaming, he was going to enjoy this, Ben could see. And where the hell was Dylan? Even Ben could not believe that he would miss such an important hearing. Yet, he was nowhere to be seen. Ben shook his head sadly. At least he didn’t have to make a bail application, this should be straightforward.
“Yes?”, said Noble. It was a sign to his clerk.
“Call the defendant, Tyler Scott.” After a few seconds Tyler was led into the court from the side door by a couple of policemen, and sat down in the holding area behind the bars. He looked at Ben and the rest of the multitude in court. He seemed in a daze. Ben stood up.
“If it may please the court, I represent Mr. Scott.” He was determined not to call him the defendant.
“Thank you, Mr. McCann. Yes, Mr. Lee. Do you want the charge read?”
“Yes, Your Worship.”
“Very well. Clerk?” The clerk cleared his throat.
“Tyler Scott, you are charged that on 15th November 1999 you did murder Arnold Chang Wai-yee.” Short and to the point, thought Ben. There was a murmur in the courtroom.
“Silence!” shouted Noble. “Any plea to be taken today, Mr. Lee?”
“Not today, Your Worship. The brief facts are not yet available. Mr. Scott was only arrested and charged yesterday.”
“Very well. Any applications to make, Mr. McCann?”
“No, Your Worship. I do wish to advise this court however that a bail application will be made tomorrow morning to a judge of the High Court in chambers. I also wish to state at this stage for the record that Mr. Scott will plead not guilty in due course to this ridiculous trumped up charge.”
“May I remind you Mr. McCann” said Noble coldly, “that a Judge of the High Court of Hong Kong has been murdered. I do not find that a ridiculous charge and this Court resents the insinuation.” He glared at Ben. Ben glared back.
“I do not wish to trivialize the situation, Your Worship. The murder of the judge is tragic. The fact remains Mr. Scott had nothing to do with it.”
“We’ll see, Mr. McCann, we’ll see”, said Noble smoothly. “Anything else?”
“Right. The defendant is remanded in custody for 14 days. The next hearing will take place before me on 30th November. That will be all. Next case.”
Tyler was led away back to the cells. The court emptied rapidly as Ben left the court. A number of reporters shouted questions at him. Ben offered no comment to each. He battled his way through the rugby scrum and jumped in the first available taxi. My God, he thought, this is going to run and run. He had to admit it was a juicy story, with sexual and racial overtones. A gay judge being murdered by his foreign lover. Perhaps they could use the press to their advantage, he mused. He could not think how for the moment. They’d have to think about it. Poor old Tyler. Dylan would have to work all night on his bail application, he thought grimly. They had to get Tyler out. He would have a right go at Dylan when he saw him.
Ben entered the office and was surprised to see Patty in tears. She was a kind-hearted but hard woman and she had not cried when she had first heard the news about Tyler. Perhaps it was delayed reaction.
“Come on, Patty, you know Tyler didn’t do it, it’ll be OK in the end” he said. She would not stop crying and Ben became disturbed.
“Patty, what’s the matter?” She looked at him with a tear-streaked face and gave him a piece of paper.
“What’s this?” he said, and glanced at the paper. His blood turned cold as he read it.
The paper was neatly typed, and read as follows:
“We have Dylan Roberts. He will be released unharmed should a Notice of Discontinuance is filed in the Tang Clan case. Unless such notice is filed by 4.00pm on 17th November 2000 and a copy advertised in the South China Morning Post the following day, he will be killed. This is no joke. If the police are called in he will also be killed.”
It was not signed.
In the circumstances, Ben decided to forgive Dylan for not turning up at court.