‘Now for more recent events – can you tell me about the night of November 20th, 2013?’
‘I had a phone call from Martha, she was afraid that Thomas would kill her, asked me to pick her up.’
‘What did you find when you got to the victim?’
‘Martha’s face was a mass of bruises and cuts. I wanted to take her to the hospital, but she refused, so I took her home instead.’
‘What happened next?’
‘I tried again to get Martha to go to hospital, but she got anxious. In the end, I had to give her a sleeping tablet to calm her down. I called Laura in the hope she could persuade her mum. She came over straight away. By the time she got there Martha had fallen asleep. While she was asleep, I took some photographs of my friend.’
‘Why did you do that?’
‘I thought if she could see what Thomas had done to her, she would listen to reason and stay with me. I was always afraid that I would get a phone call telling me she was dead. I wanted her to see sense.’
‘Submitted into evidence are photograph’s of the defendants injuries on 20th November 2013.’
Some photographs produced, from an A4, brown envelope, she gave copies to the judge, jury, and prosecution. ‘Members of the jury submitted into evidence are pictures, of the accused, not only taken on November 20th, 2013, but on the day of the victim’s death. As you can see the injuries sustained on the first occasion should have resulted in medical attention, but the accused refused to be admitted; too afraid of her husband’s reaction if she did. More importantly on the photograph’s dated 12th January 2014 those injuries were far worse. It took weeks for my client to be fit enough for questioning.’
As the pictures were passed from juror to juror, Theresa could see the shock written on each of their faces.
Martha sat rigid in her chair and stared at the judge throughout her testimony.
‘Thank you, Mrs Carlton, no further questions.’
Richard Blake stood up and faced Theresa with an air of superiority.
Back straight, Theresa was ready for anything.
‘You have given evidence – have you not – that Mrs Whitman told you of his violence towards her?’
‘Yes, and seeing the bruises was all the evidence I needed.’
‘So why didn’t she leave him? Surely if she wasn’t afraid for her own life, she was afraid for her child’s life?’
Richard Blake’s words seemed to hit the right note with most of the jurors. It was like life desensitised them from the ferocity of the pictures.
‘In her mind she was always at fault and Thomas made her like that. She was afraid of her own shadow. He was full of apologies, flowers and promises. He told her it wouldn’t happen again, and she believed him.’
‘But if he were violent as you say?’
‘She had no choice.’ Theresa remained calm. ‘From the first time he hit her to the last time he always made it seem like it was her actions that caused the violence, but believe me, none of this is Martha’s fault. Thomas chose to beat her and caused his own death.’
It was now the judge decided to intervene.
‘Mrs Carlton, I have to remind you to stick to the facts of the case or you will be in contempt of court.’
Theresa nodded towards the judge. Not sorry she had voiced her opinion.
‘I will repeat the question, why didn’t she leave him?’
‘Martha believed his apologies,’ Theresa said.
‘Even when he killed her unborn child?’
‘Yes, but you have to see that Martha was so reliant on him. He controlled her every move, and she wasn’t allowed to do anything without his permission.’
Before he carried on with his questioning, Richard Blake took a moment and glanced up at the gallery. He then carried on with his questioning.
‘Did Mrs Whitman confide in you about his affair with Miss Elizabeth Lacy?’
‘Can you tell me what happened?’
‘She rang me because he disappeared, and she desperately needed a friend to talk to. It was then she told me about the affair.’
‘How did she react about the affair?’ His questions kept on coming.
‘She was deflated. Martha loved Thomas, despite his many faults.’
‘I put it to you, that Mrs Whitman was angry – so angry at his final betrayal that she wanted to kill him.’
‘Martha never got angry,’ Theresa said, pleading with the jury to understand.
‘Even when Mrs Whitman had injuries that sent her to hospital on numerous occasions during her married life?’