Four Lives: Part Twenty-Seven

This is the twenty-seventh part of a fiction serial, in 805 words.

As soon as she arrived at court the following Monday, Marian was met by the solicitor, who was waiting outside.

“It’s good news. Fowler has changed his plea to guilty. As well as the defence being sure that you would be a convincing witness, the forensic evidence was overwhelming. If they had continued with a not guilty plea and lost, the sentencing would have been far more severe”.

Marian did not feel she should be pleased to hear that Lee might get a lighter sentence. “So I don’t get to say what happened? Take the jury inside the car, and all that other stuff? Why did the court accept the change of plea? Pettifer should have pressed for the trial to continue”. The man seemed a little peeved by her attitude.

“Take it from me, you have been spared something of an ordeal in the witness box. Besides, it is the law of the land to be allowed to change your plea to guilty. It saves court time, and also a great deal of money. Mister Pettifer is in court now, asking for the maximum sentence for Fowler. There will be reports to be considered before sentencing, which will be two weeks from today. You can go home now, and try to put this all behind you”.

Her first call was to Lyndsey, who confirmed what the solicitor had told her. “He has no previous convictions for sexual offences or rape, so don’t expect too much. If he stayed not guilty and was convicted, he might have got fifteen years, even more. This way, it will definitely be less than that. But he will go away for a long time, be on the sexual offender’s register, and you can all go back to your normal lives. As for me, I have had enough. I am going to open an advice centre for victims of domestic violence. I have applied for funding from a charity to get started, then there are grants that I can explore”.

With no interest in Lyndsey’s future career, Marian had already tuned out of the conversation. So she finished the call and rang the chauffeur to collect her. Waiting until she was home, she called Amanda. As soon as she heard the voice on her machine, Amanda picked up.

“Okay, so he changed to guilty, and will be going to prison. That’s good. I will come to the court by taxi on that Monday, and watch him get sentenced. That way I will know he won’t be around. Hopefully I can relax after that. Don’t approach me around the court though, nobody must be aware that we know each other”.

By late afternoon, Marian decided to call her boss and update him. He was so nice to her, it made her tearful.

“Take the two weeks. Go in for the sentencing and see it through. Then you can come back to work and have a fresh start. No need to come back full-time to start with, ease back into your routine gently. Please ring me if there is anything else I can do, you have my home number, and my mobile too. The driver will collect you on the Monday, and wait to bring you back”.

The hire car was no longer going to be needed. She didn’t have to go back to see Amanda or Lyndsey, and as far as Ros was concerned, she was on her own from now on. After arranging to send it back, and a time for collection, she realised just how much she had been spending on it. What with that, and using up an entire year of holiday, pursuing this plan had cost her a lot.

It had also cost her much more, psychologically.

The pressure was off though. No more coutroom drama, or worries about being caught out by cross-examination. She stopped drinking every night, got back into cooking, and even telephoned some of her old friends. The case had made the local TV news in Hertfordshire, but luckily had not warranted national coverage, as far as the media was concerned. Once life got back to something resembling normal, she would tell her friends what had happened.

On the day of sentencing, she had to sit in the public gallery. Amanda was already there when she arrived, and despite wearing sunglasses inside, it was so obviously her. Marian sat at the other end of the row, and didn’t glance at her. There was some legal stuff at first, but she wasn’t really listening to that. She was staring at Lee, as he stood in the dock with his head bowed. Presumably trying to look repentant.

Raising her voice, the judge made some remarks about a ‘heinous attack’, ‘abuse of an innocent woman’, and having to ‘set an example’.

Then she gave him nine years.

45 thoughts on “Four Lives: Part Twenty-Seven

  1. (1) Princess Peabody found a pea in her bed. “How do you plea, pea?” The pea replied, “I plead guilty!” The princess then said, “A guilty plea, pea, won’t bring you peace, but you’ll be pleased to know that the price you’ll pay will perhaps be less severe.” (The problem persisted, though, due to a change of pea that peeved the princess.)
    (2) “Mister Pettifer is in court now, asking for the maximum sentence for Fowler.” The judge was lenient, though. He only cited a 1,289-word sentence from William Faulkner’s “Absalom, Absalom.”
    (3) Lee will definitely be sentenced to less than 15 years. In fact, his sentence will be so light as to be counted in days. “I hereby sentence you to 5,470 days!” (Whew!)
    (4) Lyndsey opened an advice centre for victims of domestic violence. Her first client was Princess Peabody. “If you’re having a problem with peas, I advise you to take your mind off of them by listening to my nightly podcast.” The peas, disappointed at being ignored by the princess, soon vanished. But then so did she! An investigation confirmed that her bedroom had been invaded by a body snatcher!
    (5) What about Ros? Well, she was no longer on her own. She’d been abducted by probing space aliens while vacationing in New Mexico.
    (6) Marian was staring at Lee, as he stood on the dock with his head bowed before the captain of the slave ship.
    (7) Bad citation: “Raising her voice, the judge made some remarks about how Lee’s reputation as a lover had suffered a heinous attack by a conniving woman who took delight in her claim that Lee had set a bad example for backseat love makers.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If he was found guilty by a jury, which semed likely given the evidence, he might have got between 14-18 years. He would have been advised to change his plea, undoubtedly. Such things happen often, even when the accused did not commit the crime he is charged with.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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