The Fanling Conspiracy

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Dylan’s evidence was as good as could be expected. He was ready for Joo’s barbed comments and he did not depart from the script. For his part, Joo did not bring up any surprises. Clearly, however, the judge had as much distaste for Dylan as he had for Ben, but Ben, sitting in court as he had completed his evidence, believed the jury warmed to Dylan. He even made them laugh on a couple of occasions. Dylan’s evidence was practically identical to Ben’s. He gave good evidence of his kidnapping and had the jury spellbound at times. They had done as much as they could.

Richard Yap preferred to call Tyler last. His penultimate witness was Emily Lavender, the old lady who was found by Stan Baxter, who had heard a commotion in the judge’s flat that morning.

Mrs. Lavender was a widow who had lived alone in Peninsula Gardens for the past five years, since the death of her husband. She appeared to be a sweet old English lady, complete with white hair and spectacles. Surely, thought Ben, the jury would believe her evidence.

Richard took her through her evidence-in-chief. She had been an habitually bad sleeper since her husband’s death, and more often than not watched television throughout the night. She lived on the 25th floor, immediately below Judge Chang. That morning, she had been watching an old movie starring Cary Grant, her favourite film star, when she heard shouting coming from upstairs. She was startled at such noise so early in the morning. The shouting went on for a minute or two before ceasing. Mrs. Lavender thought no more of it and continued to watch the movie to it’s end.

“Mrs. Lavender”, smiled Richard, “can you remember what time you heard the shouting?”

“Yes, I can. I was so surprised at the commotion that I looked at my watch.” She indicated to her wristwatch. “It was nearly 4.00am.”

“And did you tell the police about this the next day?”

“Oh yes, a nice officer came to my flat and I told him all about it. It was a terrible shock, Judge Chang was a nice man, always said ‘Good Morning’, such a tragedy.”

“Yes, indeed, Mrs. Lavender. Would you stay there, my friend has some questions for you.” Richard looked impassively at the jury and at the prosecution table. The prosecution had known about this witness, but had never passed her statement on to the defence, which they were obliged to do. It seemed significant. Judge Yeung intervened before Joo could begin his cross-examination.

“Mr. Joo”, said Judge Yeung, “it appears from the list of statements that Mrs. Lavender’s statement was not provided to the defence. Why is that?” Joo looked uncomfortable.

“I am instructed , My Lord, that Mrs. Lavender’s statement was thought to be identical to that of Mr. Fung, the architect. Those instructing me were therefore of the opinion that it would be a waste of the Court’s time to call exactly the same evidence.” The judge visibly bristled.

“That is the prosecutor’s right, Mr. Joo, but you know as well as I do that Mrs. Lavender’s statement should have been made available to the defence. It is apparently only through their own investigations that the defence became aware of this lady. I am not happy at all about this, Mr. Joo. It is also apparent that Mrs. Lavender’s evidence is different to Mr. Fung’s in one crucial aspect – timing.”

“My Lord, I would like to cross-examine Mrs. Lavender briefly, if I may”, said Joo, frowning.

“Well, be quick about it”, said the judge. There was no doubt about it, thought Ben, happily. The judge was angry with the prosecution. He turned round to look at Tyler in the dock, who half-smiled back.

“Mrs. Lavender” smiled Joo, “I will be quick. How can you be sure you heard the shouting at about 4.00am?”

“I looked at my wristwatch at the time, I never take it off.”

“Ah. The same wristwatch you are now wearing?” “That’s right.”

“And what time is it now, Mrs. Lavender?” She peered at her watch.

“It’s 12 o’clock.” Ben looked at his watch. It said 11.25am. He looked at the court clock, it said the same. Joo was pointing at it. What was going on?

“Mrs. Lavender, the correct time is 11.25am.”

“Is it? Oh yes, it will be.”

“I beg your pardon?” said Joo.

“Yes, my watch is always half an hour so late, it’s this silly habit I got into when I couldn’t sleep, it seemed to pass the time away more quickly.”

“I see. So when you say you heard the shouting at about 4.00am, it would in reality have been before 3.30am?”

“Yes, that would in fact be right.” Ben groaned. He looked at Tyler who had turned ashen. How could this be? Why hadn’t Stan known this? Joo certainly had. The prosecution had been way ahead of them on that one. They had allowed them to call Mrs. Lavender, knowing what would happen.

“Thank you, Mrs. Lavender. I have no further questions for you” said a smiling Joo. He sat down, triumphant. The judge looked at Richard, quizzically. Richard did not re-examine. Tyler was the next and last witness. As it was nearly lunchtime, the court adjourned, Tyler would commence his evidence at 2.30pm. Ben decided not to go for lunch with the rest of the gang, preferring to visit Tyler in the holding cells to give him one last pep-talk. He sat in the waiting room for five minutes before Tyler was led in. He sat down on the chair opposite Ben.

“That wasn’t very good, was it?” said Tyler, trying to smile.

“No, it wasn’t. It’s all up to you now. You have to make the jury believe you didn’t kill him. You’ll come across well, Tyler, you can do it. Just tell the truth.”

“I was thinking of that, actually.” This time he did smile.

“I think this will be over tomorrow. You may finish your evidence- in-chief today, Joo will have you tomorrow. I guess the jury will retire tomorrow evening. We’ll soon have you back in Joe Bananas. You have to promise one thing though.”

“What’s that?”
“Don’t sleep with any more judges.” They both laughed.

“OK, it’s a deal”, said Tyler.

They chatted a little more, before Ben thought it was time to leave. He knew Tyler would have to compose himself. He said goodbye and wandered off into Pacific Place to buy a burger. He ordered a quarter-pounder at McDonalds and sat down heavily at a plastic table, ignoring the screaming brats around him. He looked at his protruding stomach as he ate it, mentally castigating himself. He would start his diet again after this trial. He shook his head. This was no time to think of himself. He walked slowly towards the court building, caught the lift up to the fifth floor, and met the others. He confirmed Tyler was ready, as ready as he ever would be. Peachey asked Ben is he felt OK. Her face was a picture of concern and Ben was touched. He assured her he was fine, just a little tired and worried. He certainly was worried after the morning’s evidence. They entered court, and Ben and Dylan sat down beside Luigi, immediately behind Richard and Peachey.

Tyler was already in the dock. All was ready, and so the judge was called. All rose as he entered. Judge Yeung surveyed his court.

“Yes, Mr. Yap”, he said.

“If it may please the court, I call my final witness, the defendant, Mr. Tyler Scott.” Tyler was led from the dock into the witness box at the front left of the court. He sat down and caught Ben’s eye. Ben smiled encouragingly back. The smile was not returned.

Richard took Tyler though his early years in England as a student, a trainee solicitor, and subsequently as a fully qualified solicitor in England. Tyler described his transfer to Hong Kong, and his career in the law at Roberts McCann. His evidence was given in a soft, but clear voice, and Ben thought he was coming across very well. Ben now and again glanced at the jury, who appeared to be spellbound.

Then it came to the incident itself. Tyler’s evidence as to why he went to the party in the first place was identical to that of Ben and Dylan.

“When they asked me to go out with the judge, they were obviously joking, I thought. We had a laugh about it. But the longer we joked about, the more feasible it became. Our friend Sebastian was to see the judge at a party the following night. He could easily introduce me. I would take it from there.”

“I see”, said Richard. “And what were your intentions?”

“I don’t really know”, said Tyler. “When I got to the party I realized what a stupid idea it had been. It seemed funny in the cold light of day in our office, and after a few beers in the bar, but actually standing there at the party...I didn’t want to stay.”

“What happened at the party?”

“Sebastian introduced me to the judge. I was very uncomfortable at first. Everyone seemed to be making gay jokes, including the judge. What’s worse, everyone seemed to think I was gay too. I was very nervous, and had a lot to drink. Later, maybe a couple of hours later, the judge asked me to go home with him. I was appalled. He made it clear that he was falling in love with me.” There was a giggle from the gallery, which the judge silenced with a stare. Tyler continued.

“I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but there was no way I was going back to his apartment. We chatted for a while about it, I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I did not intend to go back with him, and I told him that.”

“And yet”, said Richard, “that’s exactly what you did.”

“Yes”, said Tyler miserably. “I don’t know how it happened. I can’t remember leaving the party, and can’t remember the journey to the judge’s flat. This always happens to me when I have too much to drink, my memory just blacks out. What is certain is that I did go to the judge’s flat.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I woke up in the judge’s flat. I was totally disorientated, I didn’t know where I was. I guess I was still drunk. I was lying in a bed, alone, with only my underpants on.” More giggles in court.

“Silence!” shouted Judge Yeung. The giggles subsided.

“Yes, Mr. Scott”, said Richard.

“Suddenly the bedroom door opened. There stood Judge Chang. I couldn’t believe it. He was dressed in suspenders, his court wig and nothing else.” Outright laughter this time erupted from the gallery. Judge Yeung was angry.

“Silence!” he thundered. “The next person who interrupts will be thrown out of this court!” Complete silence. Tyler continued.

“The judge was yelling at me. He said that I had been convicted of being a raving queen, and did I have anything to say before he passed sentence on me. He also said he was to sentence me to a morning of oral sex and an afternoon of anal penetration.”

The court exploded. Many in the public gallery were in fits of laughter, the jury was chuckling, there was even the odd smile on the prosecution bench. One person not amused was Judge Yeung.

“Right, I am standing this case down for ten minutes so that the public gallery can be cleared. I am not standing for this. Adjourned!” He stormed out of court, whilst the ushers had the task of asking the public to leave. There was still an excited murmur as they were shown out of court. Once the public left, however, all was again silent. What a circus, thought Ben. The judge returned, and appeared satisfied.

“Right”, he said, “let us continue.”

“Yes, My Lord”, said Richard. “Please go on, Mr. Scott.”

“Yes. I was horrified at what the judge said, as well as his appearance. I shouted at him to back off. He wouldn’t. He jumped on the bed and tried to grab me. I likely screamed, and ran out of the door as fast as I could, leaving all my clothes behind, wherever they were. I opened the front door, and ran down the fire escape to the ground. I kept to the shadows, and walked all the way back to my flat in Wanchai, which took about thirty minutes.”

“What time did all this happen, Mr. Scott?”

“I didn’t look at my watch until I was outside the judge’s apartment block. It was 3.30am at that time.”

“Did you touch any kitchen knife when you were in the judge’s flat?”

“No. Not whilst I was awake, certainly.”

“And had you been to the judge’s flat before?”

“Certainly not.”

“Well, Mr. Scott, the prosecution have your fingerprint on the admitted murder weapon. How do you account for that?” Tyler swallowed.

“I have no idea, it’s a nightmare, the whole thing. Either someone put the knife in my hand when I was passed out in the judge’s flat, or someone went to the trouble of getting my print and putting it on the knife some other way. All I can say is that if that is my fingerprint on the knife, then someone is out to frame me, for some reason.”

“Can you think of anyone who has a grudge against you?”

“No, I can’t. I have wracked my brains. The only thing I can up with is that the murder may be related to the Tang Clan case.”

“What do you mean?” asked Richard.

“My boss Dylan Roberts was kidnapped a few months ago. The kidnappers were never caught. One of the ringleaders however admitted to Dylan when he was in their custody that they had an interest in the Tang Clan losing their case. They were prepared to kill both him and his colleague Mr. Baxter if Ben McCann did not file notice of discontinuance. Luckily, it did not come to that as Dylan and Mr. Baxter escaped. It shows however the lengths that some people would go to ensure the Tang Clan lost the case. It is possible that the death of Judge Chang was either carried out by the same group, or someone with an interest in seeing Judge Chang dead.”

“I see. But you have no evidence of this?”

“No. But the kidnapping did occur, it is a matter of police record, and it happened shortly after the judge was killed.”

“I see. I need to ask you one last question, Mr. Scott. Did you kill Judge Chang?” Tyler looked him in the eye, and looked over at the jury.

“No I did not”, he said in a clear voice. “I could never, ever, do such a thing.”

“Thank you, Mr. Scott. My Lord, it is 4.20pm....”

“Yes, we’ll adjourn for the day. Cross-examination tomorrow morning.” He left the court, as then did everyone else. Ben gave Tyler an encouraging thumbs-up as he was led away to the holding cell. He thought he had done very well, but he knew Joo could be vicious on cross-examination. And there were certain elements of Tyler’s story that he was bound to attack. As he was walking out of court, Peachey linked her arm with his.

“Fancy a swim?” she said, her brown eyes sparkling. Ben had no doubt.

“I’d love one”, he said.

They were soon entwined in deep underwater kisses in the Marriott pool.

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