First things first.
Blog posts by me here reflect my thoughts and opinions and not necessarily those of our charity or other trustees.
I’m having a rollercoaster of a day.
Having returned over a week ago from a charity challenge in Africa this morning was the first morning that I have felt (almost) well. I took it as a good sign for the day ahead.
Ian and I met with Councillor Jim Orr at the City Chambers at 9am (we were almost late as forgot that the schools returned today after their October break and my the roads were busy as was our bus. However not for nothing am I married to ‘shortcutsinedinburgh’ McNicoll. He gets me off the bus in Chambers Street and takes me down a wee close, over the Cowgate and up a wee close and bam there ahead of us is the City Chambers. In all my years in this city I am sure I have never seen these Closes before!).
I digress. We had a really frank and full chat with Jim and came away feeling more positive about the future of cycling in Edinburgh. Jim is Vice-Convenor of the Transportation Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council and a has a real interest in cycling.
I had to leave the meeting early as I wanted to be in court this morning to see and hear the man accused of causing Andrew’s death by careless driving. Ian wasn’t allowed to go to court as he is on the witness list (something I think is ludicrous as all he did to get on this list was identify Andrew’s body. At the hospital. Hours later).
No-one asked me to go but I felt it right to do so.
I approached the court house with some trepidation – it was really busy at 945am this morning. To see this outside the courthouse was rather strange especially today.
I asked at reception where the court room was for pre-trial hearings and was told Court 5. After bag being searched and going through security I seek out Court 5 – it is downstairs. There must be 100 people outside Courts 4 and 5 and I freely admit to feeling overwhelmed. Can you just go into a court? Do you have to speak to someone first? There is a desk that says Reception but there is no one behind it. I feel a bit daft by now and almost want to run out the place. I think of Andrew and why I am here and go over to a gowned up lady (presuming she was a lawyer) and ask her if it is ok to go into a courtroom. She was lovely and said yes just go in.
So I do. There are about 8 people sitting in the public seating. Ahead of me is a Judge and lawyers with their wigs on at desks in front of him. They are (to my mind and good ears usually) mumbling away. I am not kidding. This room is not huge, there are microphones in front of them but I can barely hear what anyone is saying. If it is ok to have the public in these courtrooms could they at least turn on the mics so we can hear what is going on?
I strain to listen and hear the Prosecution mention a family who have gone through a lot since the death of The Deceased in January 2012. I suddenly realise that this must be our case. I am so cross to have missed the very start. And I am so angry to hear Andrew described as The Deceased. Stop, please. Use his name. He was a person like you and me. I can feel my stomach churning. I realise the defence is asking for more time. I have the most incredible desire to scream “Are you kidding? What for?” It’s been 21months since Andrew was killed. What on earth can they need more time for?
I still cannot believe that families of victims can be treated this way. Surely cannot be good for the accused either.
The (hard to find) cynic in me thinks that it is good for the lawyers though.
I sort of hoped that the accused would notice me and realise who I was and that would make him change his mind , instruct his lawyer to just get on with the trial. Life isn’t like that. He didn’t notice me – he didn’t even look at anyone as he left. He wasn’t how I expected.
His lawyer is just doing his job, I suppose. I wonder if he or they ever think of us though.
Nothing can bring Andrew back but the processes of law dehumanise him and that makes me mad. I had asked that we have a photo of Andrew in the court when the trial happens. Yes, they said. (They being the Procurator Fiscal’s office) But a couple of days after the meeting that was agreed at, they wrote to us to say no you can’t do that. Might get sympathy with the jury. Eh?
If Andrew had just been injured he would have been able to sit across from the jury and get sympathy. The accused can sit across from the jury and look remorseful and sad. But dead Andrew can’t do that. So he gets no opportunity with the jury then. What happened to a level playing field?
I am allowing myself this one day of dismay/fury/sadness. All those feelings after all are only because we loved Andrew very much and want him remembered for who he was, not just how he was killed.
Tomorrow I intend to be back to being the positive me I like! I’ll re-focus on the positive actions we can take to make cycling safer and more enjoyable in our city, our country and I will have something else to add to my to do list for the future– to try to influence changes in our Justice system!
We’ll always remember you, Andrew. As we approach our oldest grandson’s 18th birthday at the end of this week I share with you a photo of Andrew with his dad, Ian and baby nephew Sam. Yep, that baby is 18 on Friday. Another occasion for our Andrew to be missed. RIP