Saturday, 26 April 2014

Rush For The Change of Atmosphere

About 8:20 pm Daniel Soames had had enough of his workout at the gym, so he headed back to his Chambers. He arrived back at 8:30 pm, collected his work gear, locked Chambers and left to go home. As he walked out onto George Street it was a seemingly uneventful Tuesday evening. There were a handful of people walking the streets and some of the shops were doing occasional business. Nothing obvious was occurring in the 7-Eleven shop across the road from him on the corner of George Street and Turbot Street. Traffic was light, so he had no trouble walking across the Road on his way to the bus station.

Unbeknown to Daniel a young man was lurking in the vicinity, planning to rob the 7-Eleven store. The young man waited until there was no one in the store to make his move. Once he thought the coast was clear, he entered the store, produced his gun, took a modest amount of cash from the till and fled the scene on foot. The 7-Eleven store in question had live video surveillance, closed-circuit TV and it recorded this chap in all his perpetrating glory. His face was clear, so identification would not be problematic. With that in mind the store manager did not resist when the robbery was apparent to him.

Evening Fun Run
As Daniel turned the corner from George Street into Ann Street there was little traffic travelling along Ann Street towards the river. He made his way down Ann Street and noticed a young man with his shirt off running unusually fast up Ann Street, in the middle of the four-lane road. The man was constantly looking over his shoulder and looking around, as if he was running from someone pursuing him. Behaviour like that was definitely out of place, Daniel thought. When Daniel was approaching the entry to the bus station, the shirtless man ran past the construction workers working on the entrance to the tunnel and down into the tunnel. He seemed to arouse the suspicion of the construction workers as he did so.

Within seconds of him observing this late night fun run, Daniel noticed two young male uniformed police officers. They turned the corner from Roma Street into Ann Street and were seemingly in pursuit of the shirtless man, Mr Fun Run. As the police officers ran past Daniel he told them "He went down the tunnel". The police officers thanked Daniel and continued their pursuit down the tunnel. Daniel thought nothing more of the encounter and continued his walk to the bus station.

Bus Station
Daniel made his way to his usual bus stop and lined up, as one is required to do at that bus station. He must have just missed a bus because there was no one else around waiting at that stop, he thought. As he waited for the next bus, other people joined him in waiting for the bus to take them home. One of those people was his friend Angela Rosamund-Parish, whom he saw on that bus route from time to time. Whilst they waited for their bus to arrive Angela and Daniel chatted together, taking the opportunity to catch up on what had happened in their respective lives since the last time they spoke.

After about 12 minutes from when Daniel arrived at the bus station, the bus arrived. There was calm amongst the prospective bus patrons and the usual pause before the sliding doors opened, separating the waiting area from the part of the bus station where the buses drive. As he was waiting for the automatic doors to open, Daniel noticed a man in his late teens or early twenties appear beside him and walk through the automatic doors ahead of him, seemingly without any consideration for Daniel and those behind him. Mr Impatient did not wait his turn or apparently give any consideration to doing so. Upon noticing this Angela said to Daniel, “He certainly has lots of manners, unfortunately most of them seem to be of the bad variety.”

Not Quite The OK Chorale
As the sliding doors opened the fun-running, shirtless man that Daniel had seen earlier in the evening appeared in the bus way. Rather than running through the public waiting area, Mr Fun Run was running on the side the buses use and in the channel between the buses and the waiting area. The police who had earlier been pursuing Mr Fun Run also appeared. They were seemingly still in hot pursuit of him.

To the surprise of everyone waiting for the bus there was gunfire in the bus way. Mr Fun Run produced a pistol and shot it towards the police. The police returned fire. Mr Fun Run was apparently astray in his effort and as Mr Impatient pushed in front of Daniel and Angela and walked through the automatic doors, the shot from the gun of Mr Fun Run hit the interloper, Mr Impatient, fatally wounding him. In returning fire, the Police hit Mr Fun Run in the leg, causing him to immediately fall to the ground. Not surprisingly Mr Fun Run dropped his gun. The Police were then able to apprehend Mr Fun Run and secure his weapon.

Confusion, Chaos and Clean-Up
As Mr Impatient was publicly manifesting some of his poor manners, Daniel had been annoyed at him and his actions. However once the gunfire commenced, Daniel thought to himself how lucky he felt that Mr Impatient went through the sliding doors ahead of him, because it may very well have been Daniel who was caught in the firearms crossfire. Angela echoed those thoughts and said them aloud, all the time whilst clinging fairly tightly to the left arm of Daniel.  Seemingly trying to obtain some support or stability from him. By the end of the conversation they were hugging each other in gratitude and relief. There was similar behaviour from other people in the queue waiting to get on the bus.

Watching The Detectives
Having apprehended the anything but delightful Mr Fun Run and secured his weapon and also observed the tragedy in respect of Mr Impatient, the police endeavoured to secure the scene and called for assistance. In what seemed like a very short time both the ambulance and police detectives arrived on the scene to do what needed to be done.

Daniel realised that these events meant there would necessarily need to be some delay in him getting home that evening. Because of the fact that Mr Impatient was shot and killed, the police would likely want to take statements from all those present, as they were apparently witnesses to what occurred. Daniel also realised that this meant he would be a witness, a situation he does not relish, given his occupation as a barrister and one with a reasonable size practice in criminal law.

Whilst waiting for the police to interview all those present at the bus stop at the time this incident occurred, one of the people waiting to board the bus said out loud, “It is more than a little perverse that the criminal who shot and killed a man this evening would receive treatment from the ambulance officers before they tended the dead man.” There seemed to be agreement with his statement from other people waiting with him. Daniel heard those comments and whilst he agreed there was a significant degree of perversity about what had happened, he thought it best he not make any comments about those remarks or the incident. Angela remained similarly silent.

The task of the Police interviewing all the people at the bus stop and taking statements from them took about two hours. Whilst that was an inconvenience for the prospective bus patrons, the overall sentiment was that they were grateful it was not them who had been caught in the crossfire. They were all in surprisingly good spirits whilst they waited for the police to do their duty. Perhaps in part that was because they were so experienced at waiting for buses they thought would arrive but never did or that arrived considerably later than scheduled.

As was seemingly inevitable, given the circumstances that unfolded that evening, the police approached Daniel to see if he would provide a statement to them as to what happened. After spending many years actively participating in the criminal justice system, with its trials, pre-trial hearings and committal hearings, Daniel was well aware how unpleasant life can be for witnesses at times during that process. He also knew that he did not want any more conflict or controversy in his life than was absolutely necessary. However he did not want to make the job of the police that evening any more difficult than it needed to be.  He decided to tell the police what he observed that evening, including the earlier interlude with Mr Fun Run and the pursuing police.  He also provided them with a statement to that effect.

Once the police had finished their interviews at the scene they told the prospective bus patrons that they were free to leave.

The police then turned their attention more acutely to Mr Fun Run. What started out as a seemingly uneventful Tuesday evening turned out to be anything but uneventful for Mr Fun Run. Not only was Mr Fun Run charged with the robbery of 7-Eleven store, but he was also charged with the murder of Mr Impatient at the bus station. He could now reasonably look forward to spending at least the next fifteen (15) years in jail and then even if he is released, it will only be on parole. He would never be the free man he once thought himself to be.

Not long after the police finished interviewing all the prospective bus patrons, those prospective patrons recommenced their wait for a bus to take them home. There were no comments from those gathered as to how much longer they might have to wait for a bus to arrive to take them home. That wait turned out to be not terribly long, as fate would have it, and unlike the previous effort that evening, the process of boarding the bus was uneventful for all concerned.

The Bus Ride Home
For all the passengers on the bus ride home the mood was rather subdued. Daniel alighted from the bus before Angela.  As he was about to leave his seat to exit the bus, Angela hugged him again and said, “I am really glad you were at the bus stop with me tonight.”

As she did this Daniel could see there was a definite look of relief and gratitude on her face. Daniel responded to the hug in kind and said to Angela, “I am glad you were there too.”

He then picked up his bag and walked off the bus. Once he was off the bus, Daniel waited on the footpath for the bus to leave because he had to cross the road in order to get home. Angela waved to him as the bus was pulling away.  Daniel waved back and then walked home.