We’ve mentioned before that this blog’s Contact Us/email in-box is a never-ending cornucopia of fascination and delight. Each day it brings us something new: kudos from our readers, tips about goings-on amongst the Hoaxtead mobsters, death threats from annoyed troofers, offers of love and romance in Nigeria and/or Russia, you name it.
But today’s haul has to rank among the most bizarrely entertaining we’ve received so far. It was from one Matthew Taylor (yes, that Matt Taylor), and it began,
Dear Hoaxtead, I need your advice.
In recognition of your analytical and legal minded minds, I humbly come to you with a begging bowl asking for advice.
I can’t think of anyone else to turn to and hope you and your readers can put aside any animosity towards me, and advise me with reference to the legal quagmire I find myself sinking into.
When we regained consciousness, we saw that this was actually the intro to a blog post, to which Mr Taylor had kindly provided the link.
Here’s what it said, with our commentary added:
As you and your readers know; I was told I would have to go to a Crown Court trial to defend myself against allegations of downloading and possession of two indecent pictures. I was warned the trial will happen the week commencing 11 December 2017, and that the trial will definitely go ahead and once booked will not be moved. I was informed of this on Wednesday 21 June 2017.
I’ve been living under the shadow of a Crown Court trial ever since. Six months of knowing that from 11 December 2017 onwards, I would be called to defend myself against the most hideous, horrific and damaging crime any man and father could be accused of committing.
We’ve noted Mr Taylor’s charge of possession of child sex abuse images in the past (mainly because he saw fit to announce it on his own blog): it seems the images in question are hentai, which is to say Japanese manga-style images. Truly a monumentally stupid thing to deliberately seek out or view online, let alone to download.
My predicament was made all the more dire when my solicitor Mr. Andy Horsman of Horsman Solicitors dumped me as a client, because I wished to call Equality lawyer Mr. Edward Ellis as my defence witness.
It was at this point that we were completely overcome with paroxysms of hilarity. Coffee everywhere. It was not a pretty sight chez Hoaxtead HQ.
Gosh, Matt. Your solicitor dumped you because you insisted on involving “Equality” lawyer Edward Ellis in your case? We cannot imagine why that might be! Really, the fact that he has been banned from courts up to and including the Royal Courts of Justice shouldn’t mean he has a credibility issue, right? (p.s. it’s “equity lawyer”…an equally non-meaningful term in the sense that he uses it, but you might as well spell it right while you’re about it.)
Following my fourth arrest (of which you were so kind to publicise on your website), I was somewhat reassured when Solicitor Steve Wedd of Bristow Wedd Solicitors, offered his services. Mind you, he didn’t particularly fill me with confidence, warning me that all the ‘no hopers’ are fitted into the last week before the Christmas holidays.
Coffee spit #2. “All the ‘no hopers’ are fitted into the last week before the Christmas holidays”. Sadly, our friends with experience in the court system assure us that this is an accurate assessment.
This is getting expensive—we’ve now lost two keyboards, and the office cat has given his notice.
Sadly Steve Wedd wouldn’t help me prepare for the trial, insisting he’ll want payment before any advice is given; even though he filled out a Legal Aid application on my behalf.
So, to recap at this stage; My trial was set for the week commencing 11 December, the trial was going to happen and I would have to defend myself having lost two solicitors.
Yes, that does sound pretty grim. But it gets worse….
The omens looked bad
So when I received a letter from Lewes Crown Court dated 16 November 2017, I knew that everything I had been dreading for the last six months was about to come true.
The letter stated; “Criminal Warning list for week commencing 11 December 2017.”
The venues were warned for; “Hove, Brighton, Horsham, Chichester and Southgate.”
The letter continued; “Time and venue to be confirmed. You will receive a Certificate of Readiness” and to “follow the instructions as to the time and venue of the trial.”
Okay, seems straightforward enough…
So I was a bit confused when a second letter arrived from Lewes Crown Court dated 30 November 2017 stating everything the first letter said, but this time the date of 11 December changed to the 7th of December.
I didn’t understand the change of dates, but assured myself that in due course a Certificate of Readiness would be issued confirming a time, date and venue.
Perhaps Matt doesn’t own a phone? Because our first impulse, had we found ourselves solicitor-less and facing serious charges in Crown Court and uncertain of when our hearing was set, would have been to call the court for clarification. But that’s just us.
As the Christmas season kicked in and kids across the country started to open their Advent calendars, I was left in doom and gloom of an imminent trial which could brand me a paedophile, put me on the Sex Offender’s List and see me serve a term in prison.
After the letter dated 30 November arrived, telling me the trial had been brought forward four days, I continued to live with a dark cloud of despair hanging over my head. I was expecting the Certificate of Readiness to arrive at any moment and remember returning home on Wednesday 6 December, knowing that a letter from Lewes Crown Court would be waiting for me. Low and behold as I opened the door, there was a letter waiting for me…
…And guess what? It was from Father Christmas, and he said I didn’t have to go to court after all, and I’d been a good boy all year so he was going to bring me extra toys on Christmas!
Oh. Maybe not…
So you can imagine my surprise upon opening it, that the trial date had been changed for a second time to between 15 January and 26 January 2018.
I didn’t know what to feel or what to think ??? As far as I was concerned the trial against me had collapsed and I swiftly released a press released saying the same thing.
The court rescheduled the trial…which meant the case had collapsed? Is there some logical step we’re missing here? But never mind, tally ho the fox—Matt’s first impulse upon learning that his trial had been moved to January was to write a celebratory post declaring the whole thing done and dusted. As it turns out, though, this might have been a tad premature
At this point in time I was under the understanding that the trial will not now commence week 11 December, but between 15 January and 26 January 2018.
Right. But that’s not the same thing as the trial “collapsing”. Is it?
Would you and your readers concur?
All three correspondences from Lewes Crown Court stated a Certificate of Readiness would be issued confirming the time and venue of the trial. As far as I was concerned, all I had to do was to wait for the Certificate of Readiness and follow the instructions there-in.
In light of this I decided to spend the weekend with my girlfriend in Surrey and not to worry about getting back to Brighton until the 12 December. I felt confident that I was no longer required to be available during the week commencing 11 December, as I had been waiting to be for the last six months.
Again; can I double check with you and your readers that you would have thought the same thing if you were in my position?
Right, so Matt decides, instead of calling the court to check out what’s really happening, that he should hoof it up to Surrey for a weekend with his girlfriend. Court date, shmort date. Who cares about minor details such as “when am I due to stand trial” when there’s a girlfriend in the wings?
Would we have thought the same in Matt’s position? Erm, probably not.
Rather than relying on bureaucratic efficiency, we’d probably have called to check, Matt. This is what grown-ups do when faced with confusing and/or contradictory information about important things. They check. They don’t just sit and wait for something else to fall out of the sky.
So (again), you can imagine my shock and horror when at 10:08 am on Monday 11 December, having just finished breakfast, DC Andy Grimwood rang me up.
“Where are you,” “you are meant to be here at Hove Crown Court,” “get yourself here now,” “if you don’t you’ll be arrested.”
Flabbergasted is not the best word used to describe my shook. I was shaken to the core and frozen with fright. What the fuck is going on?
According to Grimwood the trial was now and I was at least two hours away in Surrey. I explained that I was under the understanding the trial was moved to January 2018 and that it was a “cock-up” on their part and not mine.
Grimwood hung up saying he’ll talk to Counsel and will get back to me. As promised he called back at 10:29 am.
“A Bench Warrant has been issued and you are liable to arrest,” was the stark message. “I must meet you now to get your signature,” he insisted.
Uh-oh. “Bench Warrant”? Not cool.
Gosh, that wasn’t predictable at all, was it? Who could have imagined that Matt might get in trouble for not attending his court date?
I wasn’t in the position to meet Grimwood. At the time of his second call I was in a car being driven to Caterham and it simply wasn’t possible to get the driver to alter the travel route to liaise with Grimwood to sign a piece of paper; no matter how important a piece of bureaucracy it was.
Damn, more coffee to clean up.
We can only imagine the conversation in the car on the way to Caterham: “So, er, yeah, Grimwood wants me to come back and sign something so I don’t go to jail, so could we turn ar-…aw, sod it, LOOK, THERE’S A DOUGHNUT SHOP!! DOUGHNUTS!!!”
Grimwood was insistent and demanded I change my plans to meet him on a motorway lay-by to sign a piece of paper. I replied it wasn’t practicable for me to do so [Because DOUGHNUTS!1!!!-Ed.] We resolved the stalemate by giving him my assurance that I would be at the Hove Crown Court at 9.30am on 12 December 2017.
At this point we would like to say that we think DC Grimwood might possibly be a saint. We’re not sure we would have been nearly so patient.
The Night Before Christmas
I was buzzing as I went to bed knowing that when I woke I’d be facing the biggest challenge of my life. I didn’t get to sleep until well after 3 am. Never before had I been in such trouble. I was facing the most hideous and horrific crime anyone could ever be accused of. Failure was not an option. I knew beyond all doubt that whatever happened at the trial, I must come out of it with a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict. My life depended on it.
It was the biggest challenge of my life and I went to bed with a smile on my face. I went to bed confident I had the truth on my side and that the truth would ultimately prevail.
I went to bed happy and excited that a new chapter in my life was about to be written. I was staring the abyss in it’s face and smiled with the confidence I would pass this challenge with flying colours.
I wrote in my diary that night, “I’ve never felt so alive…”
We confess we’re confused. By our count, Matt went to bed at least three times…once feeling desperate and distraught and unable to sleep; once confident that he had the truth on his side; and once happy and excited. Is this some sort of “choose your own adventure” book? Also, why was he writing in his diary? Wasn’t he meant to be sleeping in preparation for his big day in court? SO MANY QUESTIONS….
Hove Crown Court
The notice board stated:
Court 4: Sitting at 10:00am
HER HONOUR JUDGE HENSON DC
10:00 For mention TAYLOR Matthew (Reserved) Re: Bench Warrant
Present with Equality Lawyer Mr. Edward Ellis, we entered Court 4 at 10:00 am and took our positions at the front bench.
Look out world, here comes “Equality Lawyer” Mr Edward Ellis again….
Our first question was for the Court Clerk to explain why I was required to be here, when the letter’s from the Lewes Crown Court stated otherwise.
The clerk, usher and barrister for the prosecution, Sarah Lindal, all shrugged their shoulders with indifference.
Once pressed, the clerk did explain that it was common practice for a ‘reserved’ date to be issued, though the word ‘reserve’ did not appear in the Lewes Crown Court letter.
Sarah Lindal defended her ignorance saying, “I’m here to deal with the Bench Warrant and nothing else.”
Sensible approach, Ms Lindal. Try and stick with the matter at hand. Good luck.
“The Charades are Ending,” shouted the Equality Lawyer
At 10:07 am Judge Henson DC entered the room and looked surprised to see me and confirmed with Sarah Lindal that I had voluntarily attended.
I was expecting a jury of 12 men and women of my peers. I was keen to stress my innocence at not attending Court on Monday 11 December. I dreaded the thought of the jury turning up for my trial, with myself absent. The natural assumption any jury would make under such circumstances, would be that I’m guilty by my absence.
That was when it became apparent that no jury had been assembled for Monday 11 December and nor was my trial ready.
Upon listening to the exchange between Judge Henson and Sarah Lindal, the only reason for the 12 December hearing was to deal with the fact I never attended the Court the day before.
It was the intention of the Judge and Prosecutor to sentence me to prison for not attending a trial in which no Certificate of Readiness had been issued, with no time, date and venue confirmed.
Before Judge Henson left the room, I doubled checked with her whether I was in anyway to blame for not turning up on Monday 11 December. For the purpose of the tape, she confirmed that “no criminal offence had been committed,” and that “the Bench Warrant is cancelled.”
A few things here: when, precisely, did the “Equality Lawyer” shout, “The charades are ending”? Enquiring minds want to know.
Also, in what universe would a full jury have been assembled on 24 hours’ notice to deal with a hearing regarding a bench warrant? And why was Matt surprised that the purpose of this hearing was to deal with his absence on the previous day?
And if the purpose of that day’s hearing was to “sentence Matt to prison for not attending a trial in which no Certificate of Readiness had been issued”, how is it that the judge informed him that he was off the hook, and the bench warrant had been cancelled?
Bit of a dramatic let-down here, we felt.
Its a Set Up
Surely; if DC Grimwood had never called me I wouldn’t have known about the 12 December Bench Warrant hearing. And If I wasn’t there, I would have been found guilty of not attending the trial and a subsequent Bench Warrant would have been issued, and I would have been arrested for the fifth time of the year, later that day.
How is it a set up, when DC Grimwood actually called him to tell him he was wanted in court, and then arranged an alternate hearing for him to clear up the bench warrant?
Arrested for the 5th Time
A van load of Sussex police officers would have banged on my door in the frozen early dawn and would have arrested for failing to turn up to a trial in which no Certificate of Readiness was issued. I would have pleaded my innocence and the police would have shrugged their shoulder’s, telling me to shut up and to explain it to my duty solicitor down at the station.
Beyond all shadow of a doubt, I would have been spending this Christmas in prison.
But none of this happened! Matt was not “arrested for the 5th time”. No police banged on his door, no heart-rending pleas of innocence were required, no indifferent police shoved him into a cold, dank cell to await his fate. Why are we hearing about this, when none of it happened?
Wouldn’t you agree its a ‘Set-Up’?
Equality Lawyer Edward Ellis claims the State and the Law Courts are not fit for service; and doesn’t my experience add weight to his conclusion?
Only yesterday, the headline news was of the massive miscarriage of justice, averted at the 59th minute of the 11th hour.
Am I missing something? Did I misunderstand the instructions? Am I right to conclude I’ve been a victim of a conspiracy by the State and Law Courts to imprison me for a crime I never committed?
No. No, we would not agree it’s a set-up. We don’t care what “Equality Lawyer” Edward Ellis says, because he is arguably a few bricks short of a load.
We don’t care what some completely irrelevant case indicates, and yes, Matt, you are missing something: you are at least nominally a grown-up, and you’ve established that you are in possession of a phone, which you could have used when the confusion started. It would have saved you, and the court system, and DC Grimwood, a great deal of time and trouble if you’d bothered to check in with the court and clear up the timing of your trial.
DC Grimwood Saved my Life
As the text message I sent to DC Grimwood makes plain, “Dear Mr Grimwood. I cannot thank you enough for your call on Monday. If you hadn’t I wouldn’t have known about the Bench Warrant and if I never attended on the 12th, I would have been arrest and sent to jail. You saved my life and I’m forever in your debt. Merry Christmas, Matt Taylor.”
How do we go from “this was a set-up and they were trying to imprison me unjustly” to “DC Grimwood saved my life”?
We think we need to go and have a lie-down, just as soon as we’ve dried out all the keyboards and placated the cat with a plate of sashimi. It’s his favourite, you know.