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A Week on Mount Olympus

and other Tales from the Bench
Peter Murphy(Autor*in)
No Exit Press
1. Auflage
Erschienen am 30. November 2023
352 Seiten
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978-0-85730-571-8 (ISBN)
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Charlie Walden is the Resident Judge of the Bermondsey Crown Court, where he had hoped for a quiet life, but has found it to be anything but. With the job of balancing the needs of prosecutors, judges, 'Grey Smoothies', the humourless grey-suited civil servants, and the overall needs of a Crown Court he soon finds himself struggling to keep the peace and his own delightful humour.

Charlie is confronted by a number of topical issues he hadn't anticipated; invited to join the Court of Appeal he finds himself faced with a case involving the 'confusion' of one of his team. In another a teacher must be penalised for defacing a statue, a huge and mysterious cat comes to the rescue in yet another case, and so the harassed Judge must pick his way through this minefield of exasperating cases in order to keep everyone from the cannabis lobby to the anti-slave traders happy with his judgements.

No hope of a quiet life for Charlie then, but, as ever, he deals with the issues of the day with satirical good humour, insight and wit. Another entertaining and insightful look at the British court system and the long-awaited sole Walden novel.
Bedford Square Publishers
1,84 MB
978-0-85730-571-8 (9780857305718)
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Warengruppensystematik 2.0
Born in 1946, Peter Murphy graduated from Cambridge University and pursued a career in the law in England, the United States and The Hague. In 2007, he took up an appointment as a judge of the Crown Court and later retired as Resident Judge and Honorary Recorder of Peterborough in 2015. Peter started writing fiction more than twenty years ago, but following his retirement from the bench, he became a full-time author. Peter passed away in July 2022.
  • Intro
  • Praise for Peter Murphy
  • A Week on Mount Olympus
  • The Curious Incident of the Cat just after Lunch
  • Some Mute Inglorious Milton
  • The Twilight of the Gods
  • Also by Peter Murphy
  • About the author
  • Also in The Walden Series
  • Copyright

The Curious Incident of the Cat just after Lunch

Monday morning

On Sunday mornings, in deference to the Reverend Mrs Walden, I'm usually to be found in a pew at the church of St Aethelburgh and All Angels in the Diocese of Southwark. I enjoy the services generally, but for me, the highlight is always the Reverend's sermon. Part of this is attributable to the fact that I often watch it take shape during the week. The Reverend Mrs Walden works hard on her sermons. Her research is very impressive. As Sunday approaches, her desk starts to groan under the weight of open books; and in addition to the usual online sources for more pedestrian matters, she will sometimes take herself off to King's College library to track down some obscure point of church history. Sometimes, I do more than just watch it take shape. Over dinner, she will often bounce ideas off me, and sometimes she even asks for my candid opinion about some point of view she's thinking of putting forward that may prove to be a tad controversial. Once in a while, she will read a whole section to me, and invite comments. So, by the time Sunday comes, I feel that I've had some modest influence on the sermon, and I look forward to hearing the final version, to see how it has evolved during the week.

She varies the theme of the sermon from week to week, of course, but inevitably, over the course of time, there are some subjects that tend to recur, simply because they are such staples, for example, forgiveness, the family, the pressures on young people and in the workplace - and, of course, marriage. In my opinion, the Reverend Mrs Walden is very good on marriage, and indeed, on relationships generally. She is wonderful at counselling engaged couples. It has to be said that this is a view not necessarily shared by all her colleagues, or indeed by every member of her congregation. Some of them tend to bridle at her easy acceptance of gay and trans relationships, and her positively encouraging couples to acquire some experience of living together before tying the knot in church; and there is certainly some resistance to her interesting take on the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, which doesn't correspond exactly with standard church doctrine. But she is so obviously genuine in her views that she tends to get away with it where some other vicars might not. It helps that she and her bishop get on famously. He is always very supportive of her, even in some of her other less orthodox endeavours, such as campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use. So I always look forward to her sermons on marriage. There is a certain nervousness involved, it's true, because she not infrequently illustrates what she has to say by referring the congregation to aspects of our own marriage. She's very discreet about it, of course, but it is an odd experience to sit in my pew and hear my marriage being analysed in front of an audience, and wonder how many of the people around me are staring at me.

I've noted, too, that the Reverend Mrs Walden's sermons occasionally seem to refer, directly or indirectly, to a case I've tried, or am about to try. It's not unusual for her to ask me, in the evenings while we are partaking of our pre-prandial sherry, about whatever case I have going on, and I've noted that the case sometimes provides some inspiration for a point to be made from the pulpit on Sunday. Yesterday's sermon dealt admirably with the importance of understanding, treating each other as equals, and respecting each other in marriage; and I would be very surprised if it didn't owe something to a conversation we had over dinner on Saturday evening about the case I'm starting this morning. I wonder, too, whether history might have been different if those involved in the case could have listened to her sermon before it was too late.

'Members of the jury,' Aubrey Brooks begins, 'I appear to prosecute in this case. My learned friend Miss Cathy Writtle represents the defendant, Marie Remert, the lady in the dock.'

Aubrey Brooks has a pleasant, understated manner, and cuts a dapper figure, which sometimes leads an unwary opponent, or witness, to lower their guard, to their cost. Despite his laid-back manner, Aubrey is quite capable of landing a knock-out blow, seemingly from nowhere, which makes him a very effective prosecutor. He also sits as a recorder, and the understanding of the judicial role he has derived from that experience has given him an additional string to his bow. Defending is Cathy Writtle, who is certainly not understated, and who tends to rely on direct, relentless aggression where Aubrey would employ humour or innuendo. But she can be just as effective when it comes to finding the knock-out blow, and it's going to be interesting to see how the contrast plays out in this case.

'Members of the jury, if you all have your copies of the indictment, would you please look at it with me for a moment? You will see that Marie Remert is charged with causing grievous bodily harm to her husband, Bert Remert, with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm. Members of the jury, at the end of the trial, His Honour will sum the case up and explain the law to you. That's His Honour's province, and you must take the law from him, not from me. But I think I can safely tell you this much now: that "grievous bodily harm" is just an old legal term, which means simply any really serious bodily injury. The Crown say that by the end of the trial, you will be left in no doubt that Marie Remert caused her husband to suffer really serious bodily injury, and that she fully intended to cause him really serious bodily injury.

'Members of the jury, you will hear that in the early afternoon of 6 March this year, a Friday, Bert Remert was sitting at his laptop computer, doing some work. Mr Remert is the husband of the defendant, Marie Remert, and at the time, they lived together in a semi-detached house in Wheatley Road, in Isleworth. They had finished lunch not long before, and having cleared the dishes away, Mr Remert had set his computer up on the dining table. The defendant, Marie Remert, had been in the kitchen, washing up after lunch. As she told the police when interviewed, having finished the washing up, she filled the kettle with water, put it on to boil, and waited. It was her usual practice to make coffee for herself and her husband after lunch. But on this occasion, members of the jury, instead of making coffee, she took the kettle, walked the short distance into the dining room, where her husband was sitting with his back to her, approached him, and deliberately poured the entire contents of the kettle - somewhere in the region of two and a half pints of boiling water - over his unprotected head.'

There are audible gasps in the jury box, and Aubrey pauses for effect, to allow the images they are forming in their minds to sink in. In due course, he will provide them with some of the actual images of the damage, which, if anything, will be worse than whatever they are imagining now.

'Members of the jury, Mr Remert suffered extensive third degree burns to his head, shoulders and back. He was in hospital for more than a month and eventually underwent a number of skin grafts. You will hear the full medical report read to you later in the trial. Suffice it to say that he sustained very painful and serious injuries, the effects of which, the doctors say, will remain with him for the rest of his life.

'You may already be asking yourselves: why did Mrs Remert do this to her husband? Members of the jury, I am by no means sure that the prosecution will be able to explain it to you. Mr and Mrs Remert had been married for more than twenty years. There is no record of the police ever being called out to the Remert residence, no evidence of any previous acts of violence taking place between them. Moreover, Mrs Remert is a woman of previous good character - indeed of excellent character. At the time of her arrest, she was working for an insurance company in their claims department, but in earlier life, she had served for a number of years as a probation officer, whose job it was to help men and women who had been convicted of crimes. Mrs Remert herself called 999 to bring an ambulance and the police to the house. She was arrested, and later interviewed in the presence of her solicitor by the officer in the case, DS Watson. You will hear the interview read to you.

'At the outset, Mrs Remert submitted a prepared written statement, which you may find to be quite extraordinary. In this statement, Mrs Remert denies that she deliberately poured the boiling water over her husband's head. She says that she was approaching him to ask a question about his coffee, when suddenly, her cat, whose name is Ginger, leapt up off the floor on to the dining table and swiped Mrs Remert's right hand, causing her to lose control of the kettle, and causing its contents to spill over Mr Remert's head accidentally. She makes some suggestion that Ginger had done something similar on at least one occasion in the past. Members of the jury, the prosecution will call expert evidence about the pattern of the burns on Mr Remert's head, the effect of which will be to show that the distribution of the boiling water appears to be in direct, almost straight lines, consistent with a deliberate act of pouring rather than an accidental spillage. Suffice it to say that the prosecution does not propose to charge Ginger with any offence arising from this incident.'

The jury and I chuckle, and even Cathy can't resist a smile.

'But then, members of the jury, in answering DS Watson's questions, Mrs Remert takes a rather different...

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