First, the day’s news from Sabine McNeill’s trial on four charges of stalking and 17 charges of violating a restraining order: there is no news.
At 10:40 a.m., HHJ Sally Cahill QC sent the jury back to their deliberations, and at 4:15 p.m. she released them for the day.
We fully expected that it would take longer than a couple of days to reach a verdict on such a lengthy indictment sheet. However, on the off-chance that the jury might come to a decision today, we hung about Southwark Crown Court, waiting.
While we wait, it seems an opportune moment to discuss some of the inevitable hysteria which has been whipped up about this trial.
Readers will remember that for a few days in its second week, the trial was derailed by the antics of a number of people who seemed to think that a crown court trial was a good place to show off their troofer moves. They used cameras inside the court precinct; they made death threats to people who wished to exercise their right to observe the trial from the public gallery; they named witnesses in contravention of the publishing restriction which has been in place on this trial since December 2017.
And when the court acted swiftly and decisively to nip all this tomfoolery in the bud, in order to ensure that Sabine had a fair trial unhampered by her friends’ evident idiocy, these same people and their supporters began wailing loudly and piteously that their rights were being suppressed.
For example, here’s Neelu Berry (who narrowly escaped a bench arrest herself, as she’d named a witness on her Facebook page) complaining that her “soul sister” Belinda McKenzie was arrested on Monday:
As we know, Belinda was arrested for having allegedly published the name of a protected witness. In fact, it was the very same thing for which Neelu had almost been nicked. Yet somehow, it turns into “wah wah wah, Belinda is being used as a beehive (?) to target supporters of child rights and baby protectors like me”.
Neelu seems blithely indifferent to the facts:
- Belinda had been warned by the judge a few days earlier that publishing this material would get her into trouble;
- When put in the dock, she almost immediately confessed to having published the material in question;
- She apologised profusely and promised not to do it again;
- She removed the offending post;
- She volunteered not to return to court while the trial was going on, to ensure she didn’t do it again;
- She remains free pending her hearing for contempt of court.
In other words, she is well aware of the nature of her offence. Whatever one may think of her past actions, in this instance she has taken steps to rectify the situation.
Yet somehow, in the brainstems of the faithful, this is all translated into “she was clearly wanted by the ebil courts who arrested her for nothing”.
Here, Barbara Edwards tries to claim that “they” (by which we assume she means the “powers that be”) “will try anything they can to close this down”.
Leaving aside the fact that nothing was closed down, and Sabine’s trial carried on just fine in the wake of Belinda’s arrest, Barbara seems to be under the impression that Belinda’s alleged breach of the publishing restriction means that “we have no law as such in this country”.
On the contrary, Belinda was arrested precisely because we do have laws in this country, laws which she is alleged to have broken.
And finally, a rare sight: Angela Power-Disney admits that she might have made a teensy-weensy little mistake in reporting that Belinda (who she has only recently referred to as a disinfo agent or some such) was held overnight for reporting two court updates:
Hardly surprising that Angela got it wrong. That’s practically an hourly occurrence.
But wherever did she get the idea that the court “refrained from jailing her when she volunteered not to attend the case further”?
That just simply didn’t happen. She relayed through her newly appointed counsel that she felt very sorry and that she would volunteer to leave the trial. That’s all. No quid pro quo.
As for Neelu’s assertion that “the jury are expected to come back Friday morning to give the verdict”…again, no idea where that came from. However, we hope it’s true. Turns out that waiting all day in a frigid, grubby hallway for hours at a time, drinking coffee and drumming our fingers on the nearest table, is not as much fun as we thought it would be.
Nevertheless, we’ll be there in the morning, and if Neelu turns out to have been right, we will be the first to say so.