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Friday, 11 March 2016

Twelve Angry Men and a thirteen-inch knife.



 One of the funniest versions of a British Trial is Tony Hancock's Twelve Angry Men, (1959) a parody of the better known film released in 1957. It's worth watching. The parody, less so the film. 

Ever since, I have wanted to serve on a jury, later as a fine excuse for a paid holiday from work. There were other reasons. It seems to be that to be on a jury  constitutes one of the great significant events of life, deciding on the guilt or innocence of another human being. Then there is the ritual, the pageantry, and wigs.

I admit though  a weakness. I’m easily swayed. The Defence and Prosecution would have be swaying like a palm tree in a stiff breeze, and when they came to their closing arguments, my mind would be flickering this way and that like strobe lighting at a badly run disco.

This wouldn’t have been the case had I been on a Jury in Chorley over recent months. Despite the tragic context, it would have been fun watching the Defence trying to make a go of it, the Prosecution salivating over their good luck, even holding back a little. It would have been fun wondering how the woman on trial—Sharon Edwards— had managed to find a Defence Lawyer in the first place, considering what happened to the last one she had come into contact with.
She married him.
Two months later he was dead.
The poor man would regularly come into work bruised and covered in bite marks. Once she threw a coffee table at him. It’s hardly surprising that he turned to alcohol and subsequently lost his job in ‘rationalisation.’This however made things worse, the bullying becoming, if possible, more intense.

The day before he was murdered, she was seen in a pub, slapping her husband across the head and calling him a ‘Dickhead.’ On the way home they were cautioned by a policeman, wearing a body camera, which picked up the following exchange: she turning to her husband and screeching, “I’m going to F……g kill you!” Her screeching continued, culminating in ‘I swear, David, when I wake up tomorrow, I don’t know what mood I’ll be in.” The following day her husband’s body was found in bed stabbed through the heart. He had 60 external injuries of which 30 were incised or prod wounds. These included stab wounds to his thigh, finger and a shallow wound to his scalp. A thirteen inch knife was found close to the body.

Her lawyer, David Fish, tried—God Bless him. Amongst items dredged up for the defence was their wedding video from Las Vegas, where she had called him her 'soul-mate,' and he had worn makeup to cover a bruise. She also claimed that on the night in question he had spiked her drink with Diazepam, and that as a result she could not remember a thing.

Anne Whyte, QC for the prosecution went in for the kill, in a manner of speaking:
 Anne Whyte:    “Your husband dies in your bed from a fatal stab wound to his heart that has happened accidentally?”
Sharon Edwards:   “Yes.”
Miss Whyte:    “It is a wound caused by a knife that has gone three inches into his chest,   and you hadn’t realised what had happened?”
Sharon Edwards:   “I hadn’t realised.”
Miss Whyte:    “Although there was an enormous amount of blood on his chest?”
Sharon Edwards:  “I didn’t.’

The jury listened intently as Mrs Edwards claimed that her husband had picked up the knife and held it to his own neck before walking towards her. She had taken the knife from him and he ‘walked into to it.’


And why hadn’t she phoned 999 right away? Her husband had told her not to. 

David Edwards had been a popular lawyer in the Chorley area, and respected by the legal profession in which he served. I imagine for those involved in the trial,  it must have been analogous to having a cop-killer brought into the station. She was found guilty and given twenty years. 

2 comments:

Maria Zannini said...

Only 20 years?

I've never understood why anyone would take that much abuse (from a man or woman).

Mike Keyton said...

Humans are complicated. I can think of no other answer. Would there be tragedy if we were simple?