Circumstantial Evidence

 
 

As Ireland recovers from yet another high-profile murder trial, we offer the closing defence speech in full: a cut-out-and-keep guide for the next time it happens

“Your Honour, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. I thank you for granting me your time on this final occasion.

Catherine Nevin was defended by an actual human, and not by Justin Dubious-Alibi, BL
Catherine Nevin was defended by an actual human, and not by Justin Dubious-Alibi, BL.

The case which you have had before you these past weeks has been a difficult one indeed. You have had to cope with complex legal argument and counter-argument, and have been forced to contend with an array of competing suggestions and theories – all carried out under unprecedented media scrutiny.

It is not my intention whatsoever to further the drawn-out nature of this already lengthy trial. It is my solemn – and sincere – duty, however, to take this last opportunity to attempt to dissuade you from contributing to a most appalling miscarriage of justice.

As you are aware, my client, Mr Leery, stands accused of the most heinous crime – the cold-blooded murder of his wife of two decades, Sylvia. A considered examination of the allegations against him, though, resoundingly suggests his innocence. I would be remiss if I were not to assist you in recognising that fact.

Let us consider first the circumstances of the late Mrs Leery’s passing. The prosecution would have it that her death was nothing short of calculated, malice-ridden execution. Stuff of nonsense!

I ask you this in all earnestness, ladies and gentlemen: is it really all that far-fetched to imagine that it was not impossible for Mrs Leery to have indeed stumbled slightly at the top of the stairs, while flinging invective yet again at my long-suffering, weary client? That, upon stumbling, an unnoticed tear in the carpet would not have caught one of her grossly swollen, chunky middle-aged toes, propelling her even further off-balance and down the flight of stairs, head first? So far, so flimsy the basis of these horrid accusations.

Let us delve further into the heart of this matter. My learned colleagues on the opposite bench have made clear time and again the patently thin view they take of my client’s assertion that the carving knife, half brick and broken bottle which were found embedded in various portions of his late wife’s body had been lying innocently at the foot of the stairs long before her tragic fall.

They are philistines. Where else would a responsible head of the family keep dangerous implements such as these, but at the foot of the downstairs landing? I myself make a particular point, when engaged in Sunday afternoon cleaning, to make sure that all improvised weapons I find when dusting are piled at the bottom of the stairs – all the better to ensure I remember to bring them with me come Monday morning, ready for responsible disposal at the local recycling centre. To suggest – as the prosecution have done – that this everyday habit amounts to little more than a hastily thrown together cover story on the part of my client is not only inaccurate, but hurtful.

Mr Leery was as shocked and devasted as any loving husband would be when Gardaí eventually managed to locate him in a Leeson Street casino to inform him that Sylvia’s injuries had proved inoperable. His initial response – “Ding dong! The witch is dead” – was utterly understandable, under the circumstances. Mr Leery’s grief was so choking as to leave him unable to react, save for numbly repeating the title of the Wizard of Oz number which happened to be playing on the club’s audio system at the moment in question.

And what of the other, deeply hurtful suggestions with which my client had been forced to struggle? Persistent speculation from some of the more disreputable elements of print media has served to present the most dastardly slights against Mr Leery’s good name.

Take the Record of Wednesday last, for example, with its garish headline: ‘LEERY ENJOYED LATE NIGHT TRYSTS WITH BUXOM GOLFING INSTRUCTOR’. This inference is as inaccurate as it is offensive. As Mr Leery has repeatedly assured the court, his relationship with the aforementioned Ms Smyth is nothing but platonic and professional. My client has confided to me again and again his deep sadness over misinterpretations of that relationship.

Mr Leery’s busy schedule as managing director of his own paper packaging company did indeed mean that he could spare time to work on his golfing skills only late in the evening; once he had – typically selflessly – first satisfied his family commitments by tucking both his children and wife in for the evening, planting a tender kiss upon each of their rosy cheeks. It is quite true that some of those tuition sessions took place inside Mr Leery’s Rover; but granted the profound cold spell then affecting the country, I ask you – what other practical location was there for Ms Smyth to impart her golfing theory knowledge?

Last, and certainly least in terms of media integrity, comes the long-running speculation over Mr Leery’s courtroom behaviour as this trial has unfolded. Certain so-called ‘opinion writers’ of the gutter press have taken consistent delight in castigating my client for his demeanour, concentrating in particular on his tendency to occupy his time with newspaper crosswords, amateurish origami, and sporadic attempts to whistle the chorus to Spandau Ballet’s Gold.

I beg of you – when did Irish decency go to the dogs? Can a bereaved captain of industry not take whatever methods necessary to deal with his grief?

Ladies and Gentleman, the facts of the matter are clear. You must acquit.

I thank you.

– Justin Dubious-Alibi, BL

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