Thursday Trials – Snippet from It Won’t Happen Again

‘Sorry, let me rephrase that, does the woman sitting before you seem the sort of person that could plan and kill her husband?’

‘Thomas was always afraid of her mental health.’

‘Isn’t that just what he told you? Did you see any evidence for yourself that she had any medical issues?’

‘She was crying in church. I tried to talk to her, but nothing I said could reach her. I called Thomas and he had to leave work to take her home.’

‘Isn’t it true, when Martha was seen crying in your church, that she told you about her husband’s violence towards her?’

‘That’s not true at all, she was just upset that her daughter ran away from home. Incorrectly blamed Thomas for her daughter’s mistakes.’

Barbara Craven turned back and retrieved a plastic wallet from the podium. She handed the judge, Richard Blake, and jury pieces of photocopied paper from Martha’s diary. ‘This is a section from Mrs Whitman’s diary, which shows that the accused did indeed seek help in the walls of this man’s church.’

As the jury’s focus was on the diary, they looked to Martha for conformation of the words before them. While I’m at it, I could go to Charles, he can’t say I’ve done this to myself. Even Charles would take one look at his bloodied knuckles and see the truth for once.

‘Reverend Crowthorne, she told you about the violence showed towards her. You didn’t even believe her with the evidence right in front of you.’

‘Any number of those injuries I saw, could have been self-inflicted.’

‘Can you hear yourself you odious man, self-inflicted my ass. She went to you for help, and you bloody turned her away!’ James shouted from the gallery – his voice carried over the jury in a wave of anger.

The judge raised his gavel and slammed it down. ‘Order, order in my court. If you continue with this action, I will have no choice but to remove you.’

Martha watched, as Lucy gently pushed him back into his seat.

‘Miss Craven, you may continue.’

A smile spread across her face. A juror, his immense frame covered in a pin striped suit, wrote on his leather notepad, but most of the other jurors put down their pens. She resumed her questioning. ‘Do you really believe your own words; a woman shows up at your church and you believe her injuries are self-inflicted?’

Before he could reply, Richard Blake said. ‘Objection, this witness is not on trial here, Mrs Whitman is the accused in this court.’

‘Sustained, members of the jury, you may disregard this evidence.’

‘Sorry your honour, so you saw a . . . woman in your church, called her husband?’

‘She was obviously having one of her nervous episodes.’

Barbara Craven shook her head but continued her questioning. ‘How did she react when her husband came to pick her up?’

‘Once she saw Thomas she stopped crying and with his support was able to calm down.’

‘I put it to you, that this was because she was afraid of his reaction when she got home.’ Barbara Craven pulled herself up to her full height. ‘That she was in church to find the courage to leave him.’

‘I never saw any evidence of that. All I ever saw was a husband concerned about his erratic wife.’

‘Were you at home with the Whitman’s day and night? How could you know what went on behind closed doors?’

‘I could see the type of man Thomas was and all I saw was a man concerned for his wife’s health and wellbeing.’

‘Isn’t that just what he wanted you to see? Has it been your experience that members of your congregation never have any secrets?’

‘Not at all.’

‘Talking of secrets, did Thomas reveal his affair with Miss Lacy?’

A deep cough, and he drank some of the water from his glass. ‘No, but he was a God-fearing man, perhaps he was ashamed.’

‘You held sermons on the sanctity of marriage, and this man, a person you thought of as a friend didn’t reveal his affair to you.’

‘I’m sure . . . he had his reasons. Martha you know. Mentally unstable, what choice did he have?’

‘What other secrets did he hide from you? How did you really know what type of man he was? I put it to you, that far from the kind-hearted man that chose to attend church every Sunday and gave his money to charitable causes, showed his true nature when you weren’t around. A man that was well-versed in what to say in company and how to hide his true character. How can you be sure that his home life wasn’t as picture perfect as he said it was?’

‘The man I knew wouldn’t have raised a hand to his wife,’ he said and pushed himself forwards against the front of the witness box. ‘I can assure you I can tell if a man has an honest nature. Thomas was more honest than most of my parishioners.’

Published by writerravenclaw

I am a fifty something mother of two grown up children, and one beautiful grandchild. I have been married for nearly thirty-four years. My first book was published ten years ago. I wrote my book Sticks and Stones because of my experience of being bullied at school.

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