Monday, 3 November 2014

A Dish Best Served Cold

Another day at the office, another story from Gwendolyn Jasper about the challenges of living with Thaddeus Jasper and their food allergies. This time about the rigours of labelling food in the pantry and refrigerator. Peanuts and soy seem easy enough to avoid, she said, but add that to her need for gluten free bread and eating can be a complicated exercise. They have both reached 40 years of age and both learned to manage it successfully, together and individually. However, it can be draining on them, she said. And it remained the case that there was some food Thaddeus Jasper ate that Gwendolyn Jasper did not.

Tales of the diet complexities of Thaddeus Jasper and Gwendolyn Jasper were of little interest to Garlick Elderberry. However he knew as a 19 year old probationer, directly supervised by Gwendolyn Jasper, it was in his interests not to upset her, as his probation was shortly to come to an end and her input would be significant as to whether he would become a permanent staff member.

He was always diplomatic whenever the topic of Gwendolyn Jasper was discussed with his work colleague, Tiffany Blackbriar, even though Tiffany made it clear she knew Gwendolyn Jasper did not like Elderberry. Tiffany had said several times there was no work-based reason for Gwendolyn Jasper to dislike Elderberry. Tiffany also knew not to make her feelings known in the office or amongst other work colleagues.

It came as a great surprise to Tiffany Blackbriar to arrive at work on Thursday and learn that Garlick Elderberry was no longer employed there. Gwendolyn Jasper had ended his probation and terminated his services. Whilst there was discussion about it amongst some of the other staff, no one complained to Gwendolyn Jasper about her decision. No one seemed to be showing any real support for Garlick Elderberry.

Tiffany Blackbriar was privately furious about the injustice that had be occasioned to Garlick Elderberry and it took great restraint from her to not express her feelings publicly in any way. Later that evening Tiffany Blackbriar telephoned Garlick Elderberry and said both how sorry she was for him losing his job and how angry she was about the way it happened.

Tiffany enquired, “Are you going to take any action in relation to your dismissal? It is obvious the only reason Gwendolyn Jasper ended your probation and your employment was because she did not like you.”

Garlick replied, “Thank you for your concern and support. I am very upset about what happened. But I have decided not to take any action about my dismissal. Rather I will try to put it behind me and seek work elsewhere.”

“I understand and respect your decision, so I will not push the matter any further. If you ever want to talk about it, feel free to call me”, said Tiffany.

Garlick thanked Tiffany again for her kindness and support and with that, the telephone conversation essentially ended.

Five Months Later
At about 10:30 am Tiffany Blackbriar was asked to see the big boss. When she got to his office he said to her, “Gwendolyn Jasper is having another one of her significant migraines. Can you drive her home, please. I have written her address on this paper. Here are the keys to my car.”

Tiffany looked at the address and realised that Gwendolyn Jasper lived near a colourful chemist she knew.

“Yes, certainly”, Tiffany replied.

There was no conversation between the two women during the journey from the office to the home of Gwendolyn Jasper.

Home of Gwendolyn Jasper
Tiffany thought this was a golden opportunity to exact revenge upon Gwendolyn Jasper for ending the employment of Garlick Elderberry.  From all the stories Gwendolyn Jasper told at work, Tiffany knew about the food allergies of Thaddeus and Gwendolyn Jasper.

Her plan was to put poison of some sort in some of the food in the house, which Gwendolyn Jasper would ultimately provide to Thaddeus Jasper and slowly kill him. Because Tiffany was an apparently insignificant person in the life of Gwendolyn Jasper, no one would suspect anything untoward in respect of her. The act of Tiffany driving her home the day of the migraine would seem an innocuous event and not one to be subsequently remembered.

Once Gwendolyn Jasper was home and laying down in her bed, Tiffany said she would drive to the chemist to get Panadol type drugs for Gwendolyn, in case they were needed. Gwendolyn did not object.

Tiffany immediately drove to the shopping centre nearby, where Hieronymus Treadstone, the colourful chemist she knew, worked. She then went to see Hieronymus Treadstone.

She waited a few moments until she could get him alone and then asked him for some arsenic.

“Why do you want arsenic?”, Treadstone enquired.

“It is best you do not know,” Blackbriar replied.

“OK then. Wait here.”

About three (3) minutes later, Hieronymus Treadstone returned. “Here is your Arsenic. I hope you know what you are doing.”

“Time will tell”, Blackbriar said, as she paid Treadstone and then left the store.

She then walked a few hundred metres to another chemist and bought Panadol for Gwendolyn Jasper, as she said she would. Blackbriar promptly returned to the home of Jasper.

Gwendolyn told the office many times that Thaddeus Jasper only drank coffee and she only drank tea, so putting some of the arsenic in the container storing the ground coffee was an easy option for Tiffany Blackbriar. The labeling of the food in the pantry and the refrigerator made the arsenic distribution job easier for Tiffany.

The Prosecution
Subsequently Thaddeus Jasper died and Gwendolyn Jasper was charged with his murder.

Daniel Soames was in his Chambers and he took a telephone call from Derek Winthrop.

Winthrop said, “Mr Soames, if you are available, I have a matter I believe may interest you? A wife has been charged with the murder of her husband. The death occurred by way of poisoning, according to the prosecution case. The wife vehemently protests her innocence and claims she has been framed. At this stage, no independent evidence supports the contention of the wife in that regard.”

“That sounds very interesting, Mr Winthrop. I am most definitely available. How do you propose to proceed?”, Soames replied.

“The first court appearance is scheduled in four (4) days time. I will send you a brief containing what material I have thus far and I will update the brief as more evidence comes to hand. You may wish to have a short conference the day before the court appearance.”

“A sensible approach, as always, Mr Winthrop. We can chat further when the material arrives and I have read it” Soames said.

“Thank you, Mr Soames. I will be in touch with you again shortly”, said Mr Winthrop and the conversation ended.

Later that day a brief from Winthrop arrived for Soames. It contained no real surprises, as Winthrop indicated. Soames then telephoned Winthrop, “Conference in my Chambers Wednesday 3:00 pm?”

“Thank you Mr Soames. I will make the necessary arrangements”, Winthrop replied.

Winthrop was on time for the 3:00 pm conference.

“This lady is in some trouble, Mr Winthrop”, Soames said.

“That was my view too, Mr Soames”, Winthrop replied.

“Mr Winthrop, Can she point to any evidence to support her contention that she was framed?”

“None that I have been so far able to identify or locate, Mr Soames.”

“She will need that evidence if she is to entertain any prospects of being acquitted of this charge.”

“Yes and the future looks pretty grim in that regard.”

“We will have a chat with her before Court tomorrow. Perhaps she will be able to shed some light on to this problem, Mr Winthrop.”

“I will meet you here at 8:30 am tomorrow, Mr Soames, and then we can go off to court.”

The conference ended and Mr Winthrop returned to his office.

8:30 am Thursday arrived and Winthrop and Soames were together again. This time it was off to the Magistrates Court to confer with and then appear for Gwendolyn Jasper. After enduring the rigours of court and holding cells security, Winthrop and Soames were able to speak with Gwendolyn Jasper.

Soames commenced, “Good morning Mrs Jasper. Mr Winthrop has provided me with all the material he has to hand so far on your matter. We have had discussions about the evidence and your attitude to it.”

“What are my chances of getting bail?”, Gwendolyn Jasper enquired.

Soames responded, “Not very good at this stage. We expect that The Crown will provide us with more evidence closer to the committal hearing. On the small amount of evidence provided to us so far, the case against you looks reasonably strong.”

Soames continued, “Today will be largely administrative and will set the date for the committal hearing, which is when Tthe Crown will present its evidence against you to determine whether you have a case to answer. If a bail application were to be made today and we were not successful, it would be much more difficult to successfully apply for bail in the future, unless your circumstances have significantly changed. We do not recommend making a bail application today. We recommend waiting until all of the evidence has been provided to us and we have conferred with you in respect of it.”

Gwendolyn took a few moments to reply. “It seems the best approach at the moment is to wait until closer to the committal hearing to make a bail application. Whilst that is not very comforting for me now, I understand why that is the better approach.”

The conference with Gwendolyn Jasper, Mr Winthrop and Soames then ended and Derek and Daniel made their way to the court room where the matter was being heard.

The court appearance took less than five (5) minutes from start to finish. The committal date was set, no application for bail was made on behalf of Gwendolyn Jasper and she was remanded in custody to appear again at her committal hearing. At the end of the court appearance, Soames and Winthrop returned to their respective offices.

Committal Hearing Preparation
When the evidence against Gwendolyn Jasper for the committal hearing arrived, it confirmed all the fears of Derek Winthrop. The Crown case appeared solid, perhaps even strong, and there was nothing to indicate that Gwendolyn Jasper had been framed in any way. It seemed a simple case of a spouse poisoning a spouse over time by putting arsenic in their food.

Winthrop telephoned Soames and told him of the news in relation to the evidence. “I will attend the jail and obtain the instructions of our client. I doubt she will be happy with the news I have for her.”

Soames replied, “Those conferences are always difficult.”

“Indeed they are. When I have our committal hearing instructions, I will provide an updated brief to you.”

A few days later, Winthrop rang Soames, “Mr Soames the committal hearing brief of Gwendolyn Jasper is available for you. I thought I might deliver it to you and we have a chat about it. I can be there in about forty (40) minutes, if that is convenient?”

“Thank you, Mr Winthrop. That will be convenient”, Soames replied.

When Winthrop arrived he told Soames, “There is no good news for our client in this brief of evidence from The Crown. Further we have nothing to support the claim of the client that she was framed for this offence. I think you can see how this is going to play out.”

Soames replied, “Thank you, Mr Winthrop. Looking through this brief quickly, there certainly seems to be no comforting evidence for our client. Add in an unsupported ‘I was framed’ claim and you have a recipe for disaster for our client. You and I have been in roughly similar situations previously, Mr. Winthrop. They are generally unpleasant experiences and I suspect this one will be no different.”

“I was thinking along the same lines Mr Soames and our client getting bail seems a highly unlikely prospect.”

“Completing the bad news feast, Mr Winthrop. So, a conference with the client on the morning of the committal hearing?”

“Yes, Mr Soames and hope that cross-examination improves what appear to be barren prospects for our client.”

Committal Hearing
Soames opened the conference with Gwendolyn Jasper on the morning of the committal hearing bluntly, “The news we have for you is unlikely to be comforting. There are no surprises in the evidence produced by The Crown. Their case appears strong and nothing appears to support your contention of being framed. The prospects of you being committed for trial are very high and it is most unlikely cross-examination will reveal anything to change that outcome. There also appears to be no reasonable prospects of you successfully applying for bail.”

“That is not good news”, Gwendolyn Jasper replied.

“No, and at this stage, it is not going to get any better at trial”, Soames continued.

“Time for us to make our way to court, Mr Soames”, Winthrop added.

“We will see you in Court, Mrs Jasper”, said Soames, ending the conference.

Outside court, after the committal hearing was over, Winthrop said, “That went as well as could be expected, Mr Soames. Unless some evidence appears to support the contention that our client was framed, she is more than likely going to be convicted of murder. The prospect of her giving evidence and claiming ‘I was framed’ is not one that provides me with any joy.”

“An accurate assessment, Mr Winthrop”, Soames replied.

“I will contact you when I have our trial instructions, Mr Soames, and I will then provide you with an updated brief.”

“Thank you, Mr Winthrop. I will return to my Chambers.”

“And I will return to my office, Mr Soames.”

The Trial
In conference with Gwendolyn Jasper, Soames continued his blunt assessment of the case against her and her prospects of success. “There is no evidence to support your contention you were framed for this offence. Giving evidence exposes you to cross-examination on all the issues and provides The Crown with an opportunity to reinforce its case, whilst seemingly destroying any credibility you might have, because of the lack of evidence supporting your claim of being framed. The alternative of challenging The Crown to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and suggesting someone else might have committed the offence, without you giving evidence, has a higher prospect of success in my view. But it is still not likely to impress the jury sufficiently to acquit you of the murder charge. Criminal jurisprudence is littered with unusual verdicts. Perhaps one will come your way.”

After taking some time to consider the advice, Mrs Jasper said she did not wish to give evidence at her trial. She preferred the option where the Crown case was challenged and the suggestion made that someone other than her committed the subject offence.

Diligent as always, Winthrop recorded those instructions and had Gwendolyn Jasper sign them.

After the trial Winthrop and Soames went to a café near the Court. They had something to eat and drink and reflected upon the case.

“Who knows if Mrs Jasper was telling the truth, Mr Soames? The Crown case appeared to make sense and nothing supported the contentions of our client. Twelve (12) good men and true, some of them women, found her guilty, after a trial that seemed to be fair and run properly.”

“Hard to argue with your assessment, Mr Winthrop. Mrs Jasper will now endure the rigours of being convicted of murder. We can endeavour to pursue an appeal against conviction for her, but I see no realistic prospects of success on that front.”

“Tomorrow is another day and who knows what it might bring. I prefer not to think too much about it at this juncture and just try to enjoy this meal with you, Mr Winthrop. Call it one of my ways of coping with what it is we do.”

“I am with you, Mr Soames. I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Now I am happy to do no more than enjoy this meal with you.”

Lunch with Soames
On the day of the hearing of the appeal Daniel Soames had a pleasant and uncontroversial  lunch with Tiffany Blackbriar.

Soames asked Tiffany, “How are your parents, I have not seen them for some months?”

Tiffany replied, “They are well Daniel. They both asked me to say hello to you today for them. Have you had any interesting court cases recently?”

Daniel replied, telling her about Gwendolyn Jasper and how her appeal against conviction for murder of her husband roughly four (4) years ago was dismissed earlier that morning, so she now faced life imprisonment. That meant at least 15 years in jail before she could be considered for parole.

Tiffany gave no indication to Soames that she had any knowledge of the matter involving Gwendolyn Jasper. She did her best to appear to be listening to his story, as she had done many times in the past.

The lunch ended without incident and they parted company, happy to catch up again sometime soon. In reality that means months for these two, rather than days or weeks.

As she walked back to her work Tiffany Blackbriar felt very happy. She had managed to take away from Gwendolyn Jasper the one person in the world she really loved, apart from herself of course, that is her husband, and in the process frame Gwendolyn for his murder. She realised that she had got away with his murder and that even someone as clever as Soames was not able to discover the real cause of the subject death. Tiffany thought in all the circumstances that was an appropriate outcome for Gwendolyn Jasper, after causing Garlick Elderberry to lose his job for no good reason.

Tiffany decided she would not tell Garlick Elderberry of her contribution to what had happened. They had had no contact for some considerable time and she was not going to make any attempt to contact him now.