WE FIND THE DEFENDANT.
“It’s far too early”, hissed Dylan to Ben, “what does it mean?”
“I don’t know”, Ben replied. They were all shocked that it had taken the jury precisely two hours to reach a verdict. They expected them to consider it overnight at least. Yet here they were, back in court, waiting for judge and jury.
Tyler was led into the dock, looking very pale. Ben smiled at him. Please God, please God, he thought.
The judge entered the court. Everyone stood up, and then sat down again. He asked for the jury to be shown back into court. A moment later, they came back, and took their appointed seats. None of them, Ben noticed with alarm, were looking towards the defence table. This could mean bad news. He bit his lip.
“Stand up, defendant”, said the judge. Tyler stood up. Neither Ben nor Dylan could look at him.
“Mr. Chairman”, said the judge. “Have you reached a verdict upon which you are all agreed?” One of the jurors stood up.
“We have, My Lord.”
“Do you find the defendant Tyler Scott guilty or not guilty of the charge of murder?”
The silence seemed to stretch for minutes. Everyone in court was holding their breath, looking at the Chairman of the jury. He opened his mouth.
There were screams from the public gallery, from Patty, Jennifer and Cathy. A number of low whistles too. Tyler stood motionless, expressionless. He resembled a zombie. As did Ben and Dylan. Although they feared such a verdict, they never, in their heart of hearts, believed it would happen. They heard the judge say something through their shock.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the jury, you are discharged with the thanks of the court. Sentencing, gentlemen. May I suggest 11th May at 10.00am?” This was one week’s time. Both Counsel checked their diaries and confirmed their availability.
“15th June then. Defendant remanded in custody pending sentencing. We are adjourned.” He stood up, bowed, and left the court. Tyler was immediately led away by the Correctional Services staff in court. Ben managed to make a gesture to him that he would see him downstairs in the cells. He followed everyone out of court in a daze. He was approached by Bob Haynes, who had been in court throughout. He had an evil grin on his face.
“I told you I’d get him, McCann, you didn’t believe me, did you? You and Roberts are lucky too, I recommended a conspiracy to murder charge against you both, or at the very least attempting to pervert the course of justice. The department said no. You must have friends in high places, McCann. Not high enough, though, for Scott.” He guffawed loudly. Ben grabbed him by the throat and threw him against the wall. They were immediately separated by those barristers and solicitors present. Haynes pulled away, gasping.
“And I’ll get you for that, McCann, too. Want to have another go? Come on then, son, come on!” Ben looked as though he was going to, but Dylan pulled him away towards the elevator, and pushed him inside.
“Don’t let the bastard get to you”, said Dylan grimly. “We’ll get him one day.”
“As long as it’s soon”, said Ben. “What have we done, Dylan?” They looked at each other in silence.
“I’ve had a brief chat with Richard”, said Dylan. “He thinks it’s a bad decision. He thinks that once we have the trial transcript, we can put some pretty good appeal arguments together.”
“We’ll have to tell Tyler that”, said Ben. They reached the ground floor. “Are you coming with me to see Tyler?”
“I suppose so. I owe him that.” They walked over to the entrance, and were admitted readily. The guards knew them by now, they did not even have to produce their ID cards. They sat in silence in the small interview room. A couple of minutes later, Tyler was led in.
“Three minutes”, said the guard. “Sorry, but we have to get him back to Lai Chi Kok.” Ben nodded, the guard left them alone. All three looked at each other. Tyler spoke first, his voice breaking.
“Richard was brilliant, really, it wasn’t his fault. Please tell him that.”
“We will”, said Ben. “It’s all our fault, Tyler, all our fault. And we won’t rest until we get you out.” Dylan repeated what Richard said about a possible appeal.
“And, of course”, said Dylan, “Stan will try to uncover any new evidence. It may be easier now the trial is over.”
“We won’t wait for the transcript”, added Ben. “You know the drill better than us. We’ll put the Notice of Appeal in immediately and amend it later.”
“OK”, said Tyler, “that makes sense.” There was silence for a while. Ben broke it.
“I also think you should get new solicitors for the appeal. Your new lawyers can blame Dylan and I as much as they like. There would be a conflict, I think, if we continued to act. We should have done that for trial, in retrospect. We’ll be there in the background, of course, anything you need, your new lawyers need, we’ll be there.” Tyler nodded.
“I’ll think about it.”
“They’ll keep you in Lai Chi Kok until the appeal. That’s one good thing”, said Dylan.
“That’s one way of looking at it”, said Tyler, trying to be cheerful. “Don’t feel lucky at the moment, I must admit. Look, will you call my parents and explain what has happened. They’re very old, be careful what you say.”
“Of course, of course, don’t worry.” It was a stupid thing to say and Ben knew that. The guard came in and said it was time to go.
“OK”, said Ben, “we’ll come and see you tomorrow. I know this is bad news ,Tyler, but it’s not the end of the battle. You know that. We’ll get the best possible barrister for the appeal, no matter what the cost. We’ll get you out.”
“I know. Thanks.” His eyes watered. “It’s my fault, you know. Not yours. I didn’t have to go to the party. I didn’t have to get drunk, I didn’t have to go back to the judge’s flat. Please don’t blame yourselves. I am the idiot here.” He stared into Ben’s eyes, his best friend. Ben was fighting back the tears. Dylan had his eyes on the floor. Tyler was led away. They sat together in the dirty conference room for a few minutes, in silence.