...are, surprisingly, not much fun.
What an uplifting title to a blog post, you're all thinking! But it really really is true. Not that I've had anyone close to me (personally) murdered, however I have had someone close to my (physically) murdered.
Allow me to explain. It was a warm February evening in 2010 and I was staying at Dan's place in Leichhardt. You will remember this was before we lived together and therefore obviously before we broke up. Anyway, as I recall, it was a Sunday night and we had been out to dinner with my family (was also after some sort of travel-related incident and before whatever traveling came next) and we had been to a family-favourite restaurant that was close to my grandma and served moderate food at a reasonable price and thus was good enough for us. Anyway anyway anyway, Dan and I went back to his place and settled down for bed - him snoring and me reading (in his defence he was ill and loaded up with Codral) when some sort of disturbance called out from outside. At first I was curious but assumed it was teenagers in a drunken brawl, when Dan got up to close the window. I of course assumed he was getting up to be nosy (which I would've done) and so got up as well to see what was going on. And what do you know, I step out onto to balcony to see two guys stabbing and hammering another guy to death...
...well, at the time I thought I saw a small axe and only saw the knife after it had been used, as these two guys were running away. It was pretty bloody and damn violent. It lasted what seemed an age, and I very helpfully stood there in shock as they whole thing took place and someone else cleverly called the police. I couldn't move. It was horrifying. Eventually Dan put his arm around me and coaxed me back to bed whereupon he fell promptly asleep and I stayed awake in a state of nervous agitation for the six hours until dawn broke.
It was only when his flatmate was leaving for work the next day that either of us thought to mention the fact that we were all now locked within a crime scene and we explained what happened. That is, I said :
"Oh my god there were these two guys and one had an axe and one did this and the other did that and oh my holy f***"
Dan: "Oh my god you saw that?! Why didn't you say something??"
Me: "OHMYGODYOUWERETHEREWHATTHEHELLDIDYOUSEE... WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING WHILE THIS WAS GOING ON?!!?"
...anyway, we decided we should go and talk to the police.
Meanwhile I called my brother to tell him he couldn't borrow the car, and an hour later got a call from our mum saying "so your brother called me asking if I had any salt and vinegar chips and casually mentioned you're at a murder scene..."
This required some explaining. I was in the cop car at the time so tried to talking to my mummy while sounding worldly and professional. We arrived at the police station to and after several hours giving a statement, describing over and over in great detail exactly what happened, drawing murder weapons and such, I got to go home.
I slept for an entire day.
As it turns out, I had just witnessed a vicious love triangle. The attackers were a father and son bashing the life out of the wife/mother's lover.
What fun, especially for the deceased.
The mother/wife then paid for the son to fly to flee the country and lied to the police as to his whereabouts, whereupon she was charged with being an accessory after the fact and hindering police investigation.
As far as I was concerned, it was a horrid experience and I was hoping to forget it ASAP. But boy was I wrong! This case was to pop up in my life at all the wrong times. I went to court the first time, and that was fairly straightforward. Not too traumatic. The second time, I was summoned to see the crown prosecutor in the week leading up. She said "so how's next week for you?" to which I responded "not so good, having major surgery on Wednesday" so they got me in the Monday after. I had a broken hip and my arm in plaster up to my shoulder. I hobbled up to the witness stand and nearly knocked out half the jury with the 6kg of plaster hanging from my body.
I probably shouldn't go into too much detail about the trial(s) but suffice to say, the defense lawyer was a jerk. And that's the censored version. He tried to trip me up at every opportunity. And I knew that would happen, so I was very mildly prepared, but this guy was the King of Shits in the legal profession. I was daunted and quivering in my cast. I was supremely lucky that I had just read the most marvelous book ("When God was a Rabbit" by Sarah Winman - get yourself a copy!!!) in which a court case took place over a rape. One lawyer tore the victim apart so much that by the end of it "she couldn't even remember her own name" and I was determined not to let this happen to me. I kept this in mind as I told this fuckie what I saw, and he wasn't there, and yes it seemed to happen so fast but some facts I was damn sure of!
This little Nancy Drew was not one to be messed with, and was later described as "an awesome witness" on no less than two occasions.
Anyway. After three appearances for that particular trial (and none of them were fun, especially since I didn't take any painkillers for my broken hip and arm for fear of becoming drowsy and falling asleep on the stand) I got home one day to receive a call from my mummy. I thought she was calling to ask how court was. She did so, then burst into tears and told me my little dog had died. I also burst into tears and had a big old cry to Dan's dad, who simply did know what to do, until Dan got out of the shower, whereupon he did not know what to do except deliver me to my parents' place where I could cry amongst like-minded folk. Including my other dog, who would've cried had he the physical capacity. We were all heartbroken.
In due course we stopped crying and the first of the accused was found guilty (he had told some pretty stupid lies which all contradicted each other) and sentenced to 18-25 years. He's younger than me. His mum was given a two year suspended sentence for her involvement. To be fair, I don't know what she was supposed to do after she found out her husband and son killed her lover.
After that I cried for about a week straight mourning the loss of my dog, feeling overwhelmed by the trial, and the fact that I had recently been in a rather nasty car crash. Also, a pigeon had flown into my face. And I had had surgery so was off work for three weeks, which gave me plenty of time to feel sorry for myself. However eventually I pulled it all together and got back into the swing of things.
Everything was going fine for a while. I got a new place (minus Dan, that had started to go wrong too but I was still optimistic) and a new lease on life minus dead dogs, pigeon-related accidents, car crashes and murder trials. Then a new job came up! I began to think that my life = sorted. But on the very day I started this new job, I was called in to testify in the second trial. What a wonderful excuse to absent yourself from half a day at a new job! It didn't sound real. I was just being shown how to use the fax machine when all of a sudden I looked at my watch and had to hastily explain that I was terribly sorry and had to leave for a few hours to testify as a witness in a murder trial.
I'm clearly something for first impressions.
Anyway, by that time the guy had pleaded guilty to manslaughter. How he followed a guy to his house, armed with a knife, chased him down the road, and stabbed him "accidentally" was quite beyond me but he too was found guilty of murder.
Two weeks ago he was sentenced to 17-25 years.
May I never have to go to court over that again! I had had enough of it the moment it started but at least now I can feel accomplished in my task of doing my bit to set things right.
Bustin' up crims like a bad ass Nancy Drew.
Dr Ernid T. Learnid strikes again!