We went through the same performance yet again, bobbing up and down as the judge entered and took his seat. I really missed my wife’s presence beside me, her strength being all that had kept me from screaming at the miserable old bigot, but I had boys and girls with me, and that meant I had my own responsibilities to face.
Work head on, Lainey, work head and work face for the world to see. The evidence was done, the witnesses discharged, and the summing up delivered. Wife and mistress raped repeatedly and violently; devout and faithful man following the scriptures and vouchsafed word of the Almighty. I am sure I caught the judge’s head shake slightly in disbelief. I realised with a profound sense of shock that Carwyn actually did believe in the claptrap he was coming out with, that he was answerable only to a higher authority. And I wondered if the judge might take the easy route and bang him away with others of his kind, those inhabitants of alternative realities. His own summing up and directions to the jury drove that idea away.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience and attention in this matter. You must now retire and consider your verdict. There are a number of charges here, and I hesitate to us any word that may reduce the perceived severity of the actual offences. Assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and rape. Given the… unusual nature of the defence offered, I will specifically remind members of the jury that the sole considerations to be borne in mind are twofold: did the accused carry out the acts alleged, and are those acts in contravention of the law of England and Wales. No other legal system is relevant here.
“So consider simply the factual questions: did Carwyn Roberts bind and beat his wife Angharad, and Delyth Siencyn? Did he indulge in sexual intercourse, including buggery, without their consent? Did he, indeed, indulge in such actions with their clearly expressed dissent? Remember that while such rather unusual activities are as such no longer illegal in this country, the overwhelming consideration is always consent.
“Please retire, elect a foreman and consider your verdict. This process is adjourned”
Blake passed his mobile number to the usher as we left, and as a group we wandered off into Caernarfon to find something to improve the taste in my mouth. There was a Mediterranean place not far from the Castle Square that Vicky spotted, and with a grin and a remark about getting practice in we found a sizeable table for our group, om an upper floor where we could actually see the castle. By unspoken consent we stayed off the subject or the trial, almost delighting in explaining the menu to the older ones to a chorus of remarks about decent pints and pork scratchings. It was Italian rather than Greek, but I didn’t care. We were away from that place for a while, back in our little huddle of warmth and love, even though I had to keep an eye on how Arwel was towards Chris. Some of his comments were just a little too direct, but the lad fended them off neatly by turning the conversation to children.
“Got the names sorted, Lainey?”
“Er, yes. Not for public yet, aye?”
“We’re not the public, though, are we?”
“By that, I mean everyone who isn’t me and Siân, aye?”
And so it went, after tagliatelle and penne, tiramisu and gelato, and a decent pot of tea. Arwel was, of course, muttering about the pub just down the road when Blake’s phone chirruped at him. He read the message and raised his eyebrows.
“That was bloody quick! Jury’s back in an hour, just getting a bite first”
So it was in, up, down and wait once more as the formalities were observed. I had absolutely no doubt as to the verdict, but hadn’t a clue as to how the judge would deal with the possible outcome of the defence offered.
Yes, they had a foreman, a man in a suit with some sort of regimental tie on; how predictable for Caernarfon. Yes, they had a verdict, yes it was the victim of them all, and of course it was the verdict we all expected. It was, I felt, the only one possible, and Carwyn was guilty of all charges.
That was the first time I ever saw him come close to any real emotion, and I wondered how he had been, what expression his face had carried, if any, as he had whipped and raped. Had there been anything there, any humanity at all, even at his climax? I remembered the blankness of his face in Capel Curig, and shuddered.
The judge’s sharp instruction snatched my attention.
“You have been found guilty of crimes of a truly abominable nature, and in the process you have expressed no remorse of any kind. Has Counsel any mitigation to offer? No? I am unsurprised, given the attitude displayed thus far. I…”
Carwyn’s sneering voice called out “I wish to appeal the verdict as perverse”
“Silence! Counsel, while you are still involved with this person, please endeavour to explain the procedure to him AFTER the conclusion of these events. Now, I have been perplexed, and indeed I will admit to some irritation, in response to the defence offered and the manner in which it has been delivered to this court. It would be perfectly acceptable to proceed directly to a sentence, but given the nature of the crimes committed by you, Roberts, I do not wish any possible doubt to remain as to the verdict arrived at by the good ladies and gentlemen of this jury.
“Roberts, I do not actually believe there is any aspect of imbalance in your state of mind. I rather believe you are merely an extremely selfish, unpleasant and arrogant rapist and misogynist of the worst kind, a sadistic and violent abuser of women in whole and as individuals. I will, however, close that avenue and you are referred to the appropriate authorities for an assessment of your mental state. I suspect I already know the reply they will give, and I will therefore look forward to passing the sentence I have already decided upon, which will be fifteen years of imprisonment. Counsel will explain the procedure for appealing against this verdict. Take him down”
We stood again, the robes swept out, and an arsehole of the finest was taken away through the dock door. I almost giggled, because one of the first things said to me in the job, aeons ago, had been a simple and pithy piece of advice: don’t piss off the judge. Clearly nobody had managed to get that advice past Carwyn’s ears, and for once I was grateful for his arrogance. Stew on those words, you bastard—you’ve got fifteen years to do so.
I must have said the last few out loud, because Chris frowned at me.
“Surely half, with good behaviour, Lainey? Seven and a half?”
Blake was grinning. “Good behaviour includes accepting guilt, mate! Now, Arwel, time for a beer?”
“Absolutely, son. I see my niece here trained her boys and girls properly, aye? You’ll be drinking some rubbish with umbrellas, Chris?”
“Umbrellas? Bloody pint of lager for me! I may be the only gay in Gwynedd, but my taste buds aren’t camp”
Blake laughed. "Only bit of you that isn’t, then”
“Don’t you know it, big boy”
It was just as I expected, the tension released, they went off on a wave of silliness and bad jokes. We still had a duty, though.
“Lads, don’t forget: got to check on the wife”
Vicky held up her phone. “Had a quick chat with her, love. Ambrose has got her Mum off and away, and she’ll be back with us as soon as we let her know where we’re going to be”
Arwel held up his own phone. "Had a look on the web, aye? Y Llong a’r Castell, aye? Don’t like their spelling, but it’s supposed to be a proper pub”
He obviously picked up on the stares that were coming his way. “Don’t look at me like that, I run a business, aye? Me and the boy? Got our own website! Now, up this way…”
I had a brief moment of regret as we entered the pub. The Ship and Castle, the same name as a pub in another town, another life, so far in the past, but I could still hear the girls’ laughter, still feel the weight of Cathy’s gaze. So long ago—then I was swept back to there and then, as my wife joined us and I knew that all was as it should be. Cathy had been Cathy, but Siân was my life and my soul.
“All sorted, ah? Ambrose has taken her off to Cricieth, and, well…”
Vicky and I got her to the ladies’ for privacy and repairs, but she was almost in a state of collapse. I held her, both of us wrapped by our cousin, till she could stand unaided. I stroked the red cascade of her hair.
“I’m driving back, cariad. You relax, have a drink, and, well, we’ll set some time aside for her, aye?”
“I don’t know if she’ll see us both, Lainey”
“Not the thing, is it? Your Mam. That doesn’t change. We go up together, and we give her the option. If she’s still not happy, I can always go off and sit by the beach or wander round the castle”
She pulled back, just enough to look me in the eyes.
“What did I ever do to deserve you, my love?”
I gave her my softest smile. “Just being there for me to love back, cariad”
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