Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It begins in Tanzania as I remember it from the early 1980s, but some of the technologies used are much more recent. To that extent, it is anachronistic. Don’t forget, though; it is fictional, made up, lies. All of it.
Hannice Knight had run the African operation of his father’s global business for many years, when a freak accident at home left him unable to walk. Together with physiotherapist Sophie Deigh, he tries to bring into his life the excitement and adventure he missed in his formative years, due to the need to be tied to the business.
A number of adventures and activities follow including scuba-diving, sky-diving, power-boating and camping, and a half-brother he never knew about; but even these can’t lift Hannice’s spirits.
What, or who can? Will the developing closeness between Hannice and Sophie come to anything, and what of the rumoured advances in medical technology?
Beginning on 12 February 2017, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
Knight & Deigh. Chapter thirteen, scene three: In court.
When we arrived at the Circuit Court, we were immediately guided through into a witness waiting area. The usher checked us in.
“You here for State vs Spikolowski and Cavendish?” he asked.
“That’s right,” I said, “when does the case start?”
“Been running for more than a week. Court notes state you are additional rebuttal witnesses.”
“Couldn’t say,” he said brusquely, as he left the room.
After about an hour spent sitting around chatting — at least Sophie could get up and pace around occasionally – I was called through. Sophie had to stay in the waiting room.
The usher, despite my protestations that I was perfectly capable of handling the wheelchair for myself, insisted on pushing me to the courtroom and into a position in front of the judge. The witness stand was accessed by three steps, which of course I couldn’t negotiate. The usher then administered the oath and asked me to confirm my name and date of birth, which I did.
The prosecutor approached me and handed me a document.
“Good morning, Mr Knight. Thank you for interrupting your holiday in Brazil so you could come to court today,” he said, presumably to make the point to the jury that my presence here was at some personal cost. “Can you confirm for me, please, that this document is the deposition that was taken on 17 November last?”
“To the best of my knowledge, it is.”
“And is that your signature at the foot of the document?”
“And are those your initials on each page?”
“Objection!” the defence attorney shouted, “counsel is wasting time.”
“Sustained; I think we are agreed that this is the document to which you refer,” the judge said.
“Quite, my Lord.” Turning again to me, the prosecutor asked, “With the benefit of hindsight, Mr Knight, is there anything in this deposition that you would wish to change, anything that you would want to say differently?”
I scanned the document purposefully for a few moments before answering, “No. It represents as truthful and complete an account of what happened as I am capable of recalling.”
“Nothing you may have forgotten at the time?”
“And were the defendants represented at the deposition hearing?”
“Yes,” I said, pointing to the defence counsel, “by that gentleman.”
“So you are confirming that the defence counsel was present when the depositions were taken?”
“And he was in a position to cross-examine you at the time?”
“Yes, and he did so, rather robustly, as I recall.”
“Objection! I don’t see where this is getting us” the defence counsel interrupted.
The judge was not impressed, and replied, “I believe the prosecution is establishing that defence counsel was present at the deposition and cross-examined the witness at the time. It’s not for me to pre-empt the prosecutor’s questions, but perhaps, like me, he is wondering why you insisted on dragging these witnesses away from their vacation when you had already crossed them.”
The prosecutor having made his point, he said, “Thank you, Mr Knight. No further questions.”
Defence counsel approached me.
“Are you telling the court, Mr Knight, that there is nothing you wish to add to your deposition?”
“I have already said that,” I said.
“Is that a yes, or a no?” he asked.
I held my tongue in check, just replying, “Yes. Is that clear enough?”
The prosecutor shot me a look.
“What then,” defence counsel continued, “can you tell the court about the conversation you had with Investigator Reeves in the Beach Bar on the evening of 7 November?”
“As stated in the deposition, my companion and I had stumbled across a chest of valuables in the old wreck off the quay wall. We were intrigued by it but questioned its provenance. We didn’t want to make any official reports, but were interested to find out what we could.”
“Why didn’t you want to make an official report? Surely that is the natural thing to do if you find something suspicious.”
“We didn’t think of it as suspicious, only strange. As to not wanting to make an official report, we were only expecting to be on the island for a few days, and didn’t want to become embroiled in protracted investigations.”
“Pray continue,” defence counsel said, “you were interested to find out what you could; I think those were your words.”
“Yes. We didn’t want to ask anyone about it, in case it precipitated a flurry of activity. We spoke to each other about it, at a level of volume that would be audible to anyone within a couple of yards, if they chose to listen.”
“And you chose to do that in the hearing of my clients. Why did you choose them?”
“We didn’t. They were the occupants of one of the tables adjacent to ours. As soon as I had said to my companion, ‘I wonder if there’s any truth in the rumours we heard in Portsmouth, about treasure hidden in a wreck’, one of your clients approached me and made what I took to be a threat.”
“What did he say, exactly?” defence counsel asked.
“Objection; circumstantial,” the prosecutor said.
“So you said, in the hearing of my clients, that you had found treasure?”
“No, I did not say, or even imply, that we had found anything. I said that I had heard rumours but wasn’t sure whether it was Hawaii, Bermuda or the Bahama Islands.”
“Moving on to after my clients had left the bar. You then had a conversation with Investigator Reeves.”
“Yes, we did. At first, he didn’t tell us he was a detective; he simply alerted us that these two men could be dangerous. I think we could have left it there, but we spoke further with him, discovered his real identity and told him what we had found. At that point, the only people, apart from ourselves, who were aware of our find, were the captain of our chartered boat and Investigator Reeves. He said that he wanted us to keep away from the wreck and that he would send police divers in to recover the property. We insisted in being involved, if only because we knew exactly where it was.”
“And you expect the court to believe that between you and Investigator Reeves, you didn’t set up a ‘sting’ operation, knowing my clients would be at the wreck in pursuit of their lawful business?”
“I knew no such thing. It was my fervent hope that they would not be there, as I was aware of my limitations and had no wish to expose myself to danger. Our intention was to conduct a property recovery operation.”
“A property recovery operation,” defence counsel insisted, “in which you hoped to apprehend my clients.”
“I don’t know how you are making that assumption from what I said in my deposition or have said here today.”
“Just answer the questions.”
“Ask me a question, and I shall answer it,” I said, “Make a baseless assertion, and I shall refute it.”
“My Lord,” the prosecutor interrupted, “surely the court has heard enough of this feeble attempt to demonstrate the existence of a non-existent plot. Had his clients not attacked Mr Knight and kidnapped his companion, the police would not have been aware of their presence in the wreck, and would instead have simply recovered the property and returned it to its lawful owners.”
“I tend to agree,” the judge concurred. “If the defence has nothing more substantive to ask of this witness, it is ordered to cease this line of questioning and to release this witness and his companion.”
“But my Lord…”
“Is the defence in possession of any evidence to demonstrate omission or error in the witness’s deposition?”
“No, my Lord.”
“Does the defence have some questions for this witness that are not clutching at straws?” the judge demanded.
“Not at this time, my Lord,” defence counsel replied.
“In which case, Mr Knight, you are excused and Mrs Deigh will not be called,” these last words said very pointedly whilst looking reproachfully at defence counsel. “You have the thanks of the court and you will be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred.”
“We’ll give the Court a statement of our expenses,” I said, “but we would like the money to go to a local charity of the Court’s choosing.”
I then left; this time under my own steam, and gave Sophie the good news.
“There was a call on your mobile while you were in the courtroom,” she said. “Dr Harry asks that you call him as soon as you can.”
“Okay,” I said, “but let’s get these expenses into the court office first. I take it you’re happy with that?”
“Of course, Hannice. Let’s go.”