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Old 22nd Jan 2013, 18:12
  #3455 (permalink)  
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Danny and the Long Arm of the Law.

But this time it was a perfectly innocuous call from the Stationmaster concerning a kitbag which an airman had put in for carriage by rail. There was nothing at all unusual about this. A chap on posting, or going on demob, might well send a full kitbag home a few days before his move. It eased his baggage problems on the day, and he could have the bag sent on to him after he got to the other end.

I can't remember what the Stationmaster's problem was, but the Adj sent a SP we had down to sort it out. Of course it had to be our benefactor's kitbag, and the SP found it extraordinarily heavy, although not unduly bulky. And now the baggage staff recalled that this was by no means the first such kitbag that our man had despatched. The SP's whiskers twitched.

The consignee's address was checked out - although it looked like a normal domestic address, it was in fact a scrapyard. The kitbag was locked with a standard kitbag lock (ask Great/Grandad). The padlock was only a Woolworth's job, the Luggage Office had a big box of old keys, the bag was soon open. There was about half-a-hundredweight of small lead ingots inside, each swathed in a padding of old newspaper. The SIB were onto it like terriers after a rat.

Our lad had to do some swift talking when he got back. But then he talked to some purpose. It was all lead sheathing surplus from the toy soldier enterprise. The stuff was all thrown away, wasn't it ? Nobody wanted it, did they ? Nobody had bothered with it, or troubled to recover it except him. He'd done all the work, hadn't he ? Why should he not have the benefit of it ? How could this be theft ?

There was much force in this argument: most people were sympathetic. Jolly good luck to the lad. More power to his elbow. The SIB hesitated, irresolute. They made no move to charge him (or his three companions in crime, who would naturally have had a small share of the profit from the lead sales). But you know how deeply suspicious these people can be. They looked around, and their gaze fell on the old Operations Block. It would do no harm to have a look.

They got the power and lights on. At first sight, everything seemed "all present & correct". But then they turned on the stop-cock, and hurriedly turned it off again, for fountains had erupted all over the place. Investigation showed that much of the easily reached domestic lead piping had been removed (including that vital bit between overhead cistern and seat).

Now he was for the High Jump - but not beaten yet. He stoutly maintained that all "his" lead had come from stripped cable. As for the Ops Block, he knew nothing at all about that. Some Person or Persons Unknown had Done This. ("Nothin' to do with me, Guv"). His three confederates went into Three-Wise-Monkey mode. The SIB got no change out of them at all. Nevertheless, they charged him with theft. The AOC granted a Court Martial. Up to this time, I'd chuckled happily, like everyone else, at every stage in this enthralling story, but then something happened which wiped the chuckle off my face.

He asked for me as his Defending Officer.

Of course, no officer can refuse such a request. I borrowed the Orderly Room copies of KRs and MAFL, wrapped a cold towel round my head, and set to work.
After looking at the case from all angles that I could think off, I consulted my client, who was, IIRC, in Open Arrest, and was dismayed to learn that he intended to plead "Not Guilty". I think he relied on me to pull off some "Perry Mason" stunt, and get him off on a technicality.

And I had to admit that his case was not without merit. The evidence against him was wholly circumstantial. Nobody had seen him breaking and entering the Ops Block. He had made no admission to the SIB. There was an awful lot of this buried cable about the place. His story was not altogether unbelievable. In a civil Criminal Court (where the Prosecution has to prove guilt: it is not for the Defence to prove innocence - or at least that is the general idea) - he might yet stand a chance

How will our hero escape Justice ? Place your order with the Newsagent.

Until next time, then.


A Daniel come to judgment !