The door opened and Detective Chief Inspector Nelson strode purposefully into the staff canteen, with a drained expression upon his face, as he gazed around looking for his prey.
“Morning Chief,” Weaver said, looking up from his paper, “has someone died or something?”
“Worse! Much worse!”
Weaver put the paper down, took a sip of tea, and sat back in the chair. “I am all ears,” as his D.C.I. dropped a file onto his paper, and sat down opposite him.
“What do you make of this?” asked Nelson.
Weaver picked it up, and casually browsed through the contents, which included a formal letter sent by the Court of Appeal, that the case in question: Benjamin James would be heard at the High Court, four weeks from today.
“I remember this case, vaguely. I was just starting out in C.I.D at the time. To think that after all this time has passed, that the boy Benjamin, now a man in the eyes of the law, could be innocent of the murders, they must be joking.” Weaver responded, with disbelief in his voice. “If my memory serves me right, it was an open and shut case at the time. They had the weapon, suspect, and victim’s blood on his clothes . . . and now they believe after all this time, there is a possibility he could actually be innocent?”
“That’s about the size of it. I was one of the leading Inspector’s on the case, it was my part in his conviction, that got me my promotion two years later,” stated Nelson. “So we have got to check over the case, and ensure everything had been, and was undertaken in a legal manner.
“What we don’t want is some smart arse lawyer getting him off on a technicality,” suggested Weaver.
“You have got that right. You had better dig out the original files, check the statements with original witnesses, what we don’t want are any nasty surprises waiting for us, at the hearing, stated Nelson, as he got up to leave. “It might be worth checking out the village, to see if anything of interest to the case has gone on, since the James’ murders.”
“What do you expect to find, more ghosts jumping out of the woodwork,” Weaver responded. He put his hands up, “only a joke.”
Nelson gazed at him, but said nothing as he left.
“Well, what a can of worms to be dropped in our laps. I thought this case was dead and buried,” Weaver said to himself in a shallow voice, as he walked from the canteen.
“D.S.Jones,” Weaver’s trusted right hand man. “Phone through to the records office, and request that all the files and evidence on the Benjamin James murder spree of 1991, be sent up to C.I.D.” as he walked into the office. “Then I want a list of any unusual happenings in the village of Barrisgough, any incidents where the police have been called in, from 1991.”
“Yes, sir!” replied Jones. “What gives?”
“Some Psychiatrist and Priest, have started raising the question whether Benjamin James, could actually be a murderer or an innocent victim, which has led to an appeal,” Weaver responded.
Jones, accessed his computer for information on any related events, to the killings, within the village and surrounding area. His link to Barrisgough, would bring up a chain of deaths . . . they hadn’t expected this.
The first anniversary of the James’ murders; post woman was arrested for murdering her husband, Christopher, by stabbing him with a kitchen knife seven times.
The second anniversary of the James’ murders; Jackie Lawson was killed when she reversed her car, into the path of an oncoming lorry.
The third anniversary of the James’ murders; Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died in hospital from his injuries.
The fourth anniversary of the James’ murders; James Harvard killed the village busybody, one Mary Laidlaw, at his mothers request, by crossbow.
The fifth anniversary of the James’ murders; Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. for refusing to serve him.
The sixth anniversary of the James’ murders; Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during the execution of a burglary.
The seventh anniversary of the James’ murders; Peter Quinn local Poacher, fired and killed former police officer, Cliff Roberts, now gamekeeper.
The description given by those charged, had been quite similar on all accounts. Minutes before the act of murder took place, each claim to have seen a shadowy figure, wearing a frock styled coat the hat, cross their path,” quoted James reading from the screen.
To local people then – and today – the evidence is overwhelming; the ghost of the Reverend Patterson continued to haunt the village. He had returned to play out the dramatic events that have made the killings in this quiet rural corner of East Anglia, headline news, the length and breadth of the country.
After August 15th 1998, no murder or accidental death has been reported, the village has lived in peace and harmony ever since.
“Could it be a coincidence that the murder’s ceased after the seventh anniversary, which happened to be the same year Benjamin reached twenty-one?” suggested Jones.
“I would find it hard to believe he could be possible of orchestrating murders, but anything’s possible in this day and age,” Weaver pointed out.
Or was it the removal of old bones from the rectory well by archaeologists, believed to be that of a French Nun, that brought peace?”
“What a load of utter rubbish, what will they think of next,” Weaver responded, looking over D.S.Jones’ shoulder in disbelief. “We work with facts, not make believe.”
“Historians would believe in it,” suggested Jones. Add archaeologists into the mix, and a sympathetic appeal court, and Benjamin could easily walk.”
Weaver looked at Jones with disgust at the suggestion. “What news on the original case?”
“Not good at all, PC Roberts, the officer who was first on the scene retired due to ill health, was killed in August 1998, whilst working as a game keeper.”
“What about the church warden, he was one of the first on the scene?” Weaver asked.
“Bracks died in 1996, from a heart attack,” Jones replied. Here’s some additional information, from the day of Benjamin’s imprisonment, right up to his death, Bracks visited him every month without fail.”
“It can’t get much worse, can it?” asked Weaver.
“It can, and here it is, Detective Chief Inspector Dawson, who headed the case, was killed in a car accident in 1998, whilst travelling across Europe with his family.”
“I remember Dawson’s death, I attended his funeral, hundreds turned out to pay their respects,” interjected Weaver. “This doesn’t look good; most of the major witnesses are dead!”
Detectives wanted to question Donald James, brother of Peter James, but they couldn’t find him. He had sold the company, and vanished with his wife to locations unknown.
Further investigations revealed, he had been left financial guardian of each child until they reached the age of twenty-one. It appears he had disappeared with the James’ entire estate.
Questions were raised about Donald, made one wonder if there was any possible doubt; whether Donald had any involvement, in the murders.
Harold Brackman, crime-beat reporter of twenty-five years with the Chronicle, couldn’t believe what he heard from his sources at court. Benjamin James was appealing against his sentence after all these years . . . The young boy who has spent the last ten years behind bars.
Front page news on the first day of the Appeal Hearing:
What caused Benjamin James (14) in August 1991, to take his father’s shotgun, and cold bloodedly murder his family?
The suspect never uttered a word during his police interviews, and trial, other than to confirm his name. The physical evidence was enough to prove his guilt.
Benjamin never confessed his guilt, or pleaded his innocence . . . forcing the court to base the case on the evidence brought before them.
Now ten years on, Benjamin James is pleading his innocence in the Court of Appeal, on the grounds of mitigating circumstances.
The day is stifling hot, over eighty degrees, and still rising as the Appeal Court sat to hear the case brought before them on, on the grounds of a mis-carriage of justice, with mitigating circumstances.
Very few cases in the English legal system have attracted so much attention from the Media, as that of the Benjamin James Murder Spree, a case that had shocked, mystified, and fascinated people, the length and breadth of the country.
The horrific act in an otherwise peaceful country village is startling beyond belief. Along with the gruesome nature of the crimes is the unexpected character of the accused, not a maniac, but their youngest son; Benjamin James. Charged with the murder of his parents, Peter and Samantha, his brother Michael and sister Christina
A lawyer representing Benjamin James, addressed court: In the original murder case, the evidence submitted was almost entirely circumstantial, which passionately divided public opinion, as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. Thus he was found guilty for the violent and cold bloodedly murder of four people, which led to his conviction; to be detained for an indefinite period.
The Crown’s conviction was based solely on the fact, that Benjamin James’ was found holding the shotgun, and covered in blood from his victim’s.
Here, we are going to prove without doubt, Benjamin’s part, as the murderer.
The Appeal Court consisted of three judges for the appeal led by Judge Carsdale into the ‘James Murder Spree of 1991,’ as it has become known.
This is a murder case in which the accused was found guilty at the Juvenile Court in 1991, for the violent and cold blooded murder of four people, namely his own family.
“You may call your first witness,” said the Judge, indicating to the defence.
Mathew Hillsdale of the defence acknowledged the judge. For he knew they had an upward climb convincing the court, of Benjamin’s innocence.
The first witness for the defence is Professor James Beaumont, Historian for Cambridge University Museum. Who stated, that a French Nun, one Adele Dupre, worked in the area as a maid during the times of the Witch Finder Trials. Part of the village’s own recorded history, refer to the maid in question being tried as a witch, for her association with animals. Her body was burnt at the stake, and her remains were thrown down the old well.
In 1863, the Reverend Edward Markham built a rectory at the far end of Barisgough village, to look over his flock. Apparitions of a Nun started early on and were seen by many a visitor to the rectory, for many centuries to come.
Then in 1955, the Reverend James Patterson took up residence, and in 1972 when poltergeist activity was ripe in the area, he was found hanging from the Bell Tower rafters, by the then church warden; Mr Bracks.
The Reverend Patterson was observed by villager’s partaking in Black Magic rituals, at the Manor House graveyard. The evidence was laid out for all to see the next morning, the remains of a black cock and white hen, all the hallmarks of a Black Magic ritual.
When the James family moved into the converted rectory, villager’s feared for their safety . . . their fear was well founded.
Our search revealed the old well, covered by years of growth, it was here the skull and bones were discovered, during an excavation, and taken to Cambridge University Museum.
The skull broke in two, and glass display cases, within close proximity, shattered. Two of the original archaeological team in their late twenties, died within seven days of the remnants removal from the old well; of old age.
Then on the 20th September 1998, the Nun’s remains were buried on sacred ground, within the Convent of our Lady in Holt. At last she was at peace.
“Thank you Professor, no further questions,” the defence hoped this would put serious doubt, into the minds of the court.
“Come now professor, this is no more than a story made up for the tourists,” the prosecuting attorney James Lansdale for the Crown put forward, in a jovial manner.
“The entire happenings and events taken place are recorded in the British Library. What we have done is try to answer questions, about historical events taken place in the village,” replied the Professor.
“So Professor, what has this got to do with Benjamin James murder spree,” he asked.
“I have the court the facts on the village, it is not for me to speculate,” the Professor replied.
“But you do, don’t you,” stated the red faced Prosecutor Lansdale, “no further questions for this witness.”
“Before I call my next witness, I would like to enter a document into the proceedings,” A copy was duly given to the Judges and Prosecution.
According to the statement you have before you, as provided by Trinity House resident psychiatrist Dr Andrew Sinclair and witnessed by the said Governor; Mr Calahan. Benjamin James regained use of speech on the21st September 1998, some twenty-four after the skeletal remains of the Nun; Sister Adele Dupre was buried on sacred ground.
“Therefore it has been concluded there must be a connection between the two events,” proposed the defence.
“But that still doesn’t prove that Benjamin is innocent of the murders,” stated the Prosecution.
“Bear with me, and I will prove it to you and your court, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the original conviction is flawed,” stated the Defence.
The second witness for the defence is Mr Rackman a gunsmith, of 30 years experience. Who stated that a double-barrelled shotgun breaks beyond the stock so the barrel drops down, and the fired or spent cartridges as they are referred to, can be extracted and the gun reloaded.
It is my considered opinion that a 14 year-old boy, some , 4ft 10inches in height, would have great difficulty holding such a shotgun, let alone fire, reload and fire again in a matter of seconds? The length and weight isn’t designed for quick action.
“No further questions for this witness,” as the defence returned to his table, with glee in his eyes.
“Mr Rackman,I put it to you isn’t it possible to fire, reload and fire again in quick succession, if one is used to the shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor.
“In my opinion, it would be highly unlikely,” replied Rackman.
“But not impossible?” asked the prosecutor, pushing the defence’s witness into a yes or no situation.
“I am unable to give a yes or no answer to the question, it would depend on many factors, height, type of shotgun.”
The prosecution knew he had been beaten by this witness. “No further questions,” as he retreated to his table.
The third witness for the defence is Doctor Gerald Carter Psychiatrist of Harley Street, and Royal Brompton Hospital. Who stated under oath, that Benjamin James has limited memory for that fateful day; 15th August 1991, up to 21st September 1998. In short he suffers from amnesia covering a seven year period.
At the time of these murders, the village was rife with paranormal activity, and the centre point was the old rectory; home of Benjamin James.
I like you, doubted the existence of living ghosts, that was until I visited the village of Barrisgough seeking answers, and it was there, I met Howard and Anna Beaumont, who told me the story of the rail crash; off 18th May 1921. Some forty people died that day, when a passenger and goods train collided. What I learned later from library reports shocked me to the bone.
Remnants of a gentleman bearing a silver ring with the initials HB, and a woman, bearing a broach with AB, were both discovered in the first carriage. The only signs left of the old railway track, were bumps in the ground where the old track sleepers lay. Legend said a train would exit the misty gloom, every evening at 18.50pm . . . and it did, the lights of its passenger cars like a string of yellow beads, dragging a dull roar behind it.
I had actually spoken with real living, breathing ghosts of Barrisgough, and seen the haunted train, at the exact time of the original accident, drive right through me, proving to me the village is haunted.
The former church warden Mr Bracks, claimed satanic events took place at the Old Manor House. What I found was dried blood stains among bird feathers, the same as associated with Black Magic rituals. I could not guess how long since the ritual took place, as the feathers are soft to the touch, I would guess fairly recent.
“Thank you doctor, no further questions,” the defence believed his witness, had left the court perplexed in many ways.
The Prosecuting Barrister raised himself from his seat and walked towards the good doctor, in the witness box, eyeing him up and down for a moment.
“What you and the defence here have concocted for the court is based on supposed paranormal activities. So I put it to you, it is no more than a state of mind?” proposed the Prosecutor.
“You can believe what you want. Why don’t you visit the village, it is still rife with paranormal, even the dead from the train crash, openly walk around,” responded Carter. “I am sure they will make you welcome.”
“Just answer the question,” asked a flustered Prosecutor.
I only work with facts put before me, by my patient. How can one so young and innocent, be, considered, responsible of such a horrific crime?” the doctor threw back in the Prosecutors face.
“So who do you think killed them, and placed the murder weapon in Benjamin’s lap, spraying blood from his victim’s over him?” the Prosecutor asked, playing right into the hands of the doctor.
“That is the job of the police to discover who carried out the crime. Benjamin had to have been in a state of shock at the time, which would account for his silence, during the police interviews and trial. He was to spend the better part of the next seven years in silence. If he had not regained his voice, we would not be put in this situation, questioning his innocence or guilt?” replied a satisfied doctor.
“But you do question the police outcome . . . are you saying, they got it wrong?” asked the Prosecutor.
“The truth is in the evidence as I see it,” replied the good doctor.
“No further questions”, said the prosecutor, knowing he had just met his match, in that exchange of words.
“I call to the stand the Reverend Baines.”
The fourth witness for the defence is the Reverend Baines, vicar of St.Mary’s Church at Holt, and a prison visitor to Trinity House Hospital. Who admitted he found it hard to comprehend that one so small, could be capable of lifting a double barrelled shotgun, and firing off a total of nine rounds in quick succession.
It is my belief, another committed his crime, and the supernatural events, rife in the village, were somehow connected to these murders. Unfortunately, much time has passed by, and whoever actually committed the act, has got clean away.
At the time of the so-called murder spree, Benjamin was only 4ft 8 inches tall, making it virtually impossible for him to carry out the crime. The shotgun used to carry out these murders was nearly three-quarters his height, how could he wield it, fire and reload in quick succession?
“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence nodded towards the prosecution, as he returned to his table.
The Prosecuting Barrister rose to his feet. “I see we have another joker, who believes in super-natural events, could actually be responsible for the deadly atrocities, of August 1991,” gazing between the defence counsel and the witness. “So Reverend, do you believe in the super natural events, that have enveloped this village since the, 1645 Witch Finder Trials?”
“I have to concur, I have no choice but to believe; the evidence speaks for itself.”
The prosecuting counsel tossed his papers loudly onto his table, out of sheer desperation. “I have no further questions for this witness.”
The fifth witness for the defence is Samuel Sanderson, Professor of Scientific DNA Studies. The clothing worn by Benjamin James back in 1991 had been studied, using techniques of today. We found blood transference, as though being hugged by the real killer, but no direct blood splatter.
Our DNA tests, brought up some surprising results, who ever hugged the accused had to be a relation of the family. Not just anyone, but one related to the father; Peter James.
The other item of clothing, tested for DNA, was an exact match to that found on Benjamin James’ clothing . . . one of many clothing items found in the police, evidence box.
“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence stated with a wry smile on his face, nodding towards the prosecution.
“No questions for this witness,” the Prosecutor said, rising from his seat to speak. He could not believe what he had just heard, an item of evidence that could put serious doubt on the guilt of the accused.
The final witness for the defence is the accused, Benjamin James, currently resident of Trinity House Hospital, on Saint Unix Island. My life changed in August 1991, when the authorities believed I murdered my parents, brother and sister with my father’s shotgun.
Like my brother and sister, I spent only school holidays at our home in Barrisgough, for we attended boarding school. The thing I remember most would be the first day back from school, riding through the village, to the old cottage nestled down by the river.
There waiting for us would be our mother’s part-time house-keeper, who fed us freshly baked cakes and scones. Actually she had been burned as a witch, in times gone by, and worked as a house-keeper, for previous occupants of the old rectory, that’s a story she told us.
At first we didn’t believe her, until Michael and I observed the ghostly coach, careering across our garden, late each Friday night. We even saw the Nun cross the terrace; she even acknowledged our presence, on more than one occasion. Another sighting I remember was that of a vicar, sitting at dad’s desk in the study, Benjamin gazed around the court, looking at the stunned faces, in response to ghostly events that took place at their home; the old rectory.
We kids couldn’t talk to our parents about these events, they just wouldn’t believe us. But my godfather Donald James, told us kids, what you see is true, and the story of the Nun burnt as a witch really happened.
Dad used to get very annoyed when Donald told us of the satanic rituals that took place at the Old Manor House grounds . . . we knew him and his wife who was born in the village attended, but we never let on.
Dad and Donald always argued, you could hear it all over the house, always about the same old thing . . . money.
Donald always came in by way of the cellar, using the external door in the garden for he had a key like the rest of us, but really it was known as his personal access door. He would come up by way of the inner staircase, to the tall bookcase in dad’s study which was on hinges. A catch at the back would release it.
The faces of the prosecution were shell-shocked, for it was the first they heard of this.
“I would like to offer a document as evidence into the proceedings, a copy of the original plans held at County Hall Surveyor’s Department,” asked the Defence.
My mind still remains partially blank for 15th August 1991. What I do remember is Donald came round really early . . . and had an argument with my father, then slammed the front door as he left. The next thing Bracks the church-warden, finding me covered in blood, with my father’s shotgun in my lap.
I just don’t believe I could have committed such a murder, the length and weight of the shotgun outweighed logical reasoning.
How I came to be holding it . . . I have no explanation.
“No further questions, for this witness,” indicating the floor was free for the Prosecution.
“So Benjamin, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the Prosecution.
“If you had met one like I had, you would know they exist,” replied Benjamin.
“Benjamin, when you came before the courts back in 1991, charged with murdering your own family, you refused to speak?” asked the Prosecution.
“It wasn’t that I refused, I just found no words came forth,” stated Benjamin.
“So when these supposed bones of the Nun were re-buried some seven years later, you got your speech back?” stated the Prosecutor. “You expect us to believe it?”
“That’s how it was,” Benjamin replied, “if I could have spoken, I would have. Who would want to be locked up for a crime you are convinced you are innocent of?”
“Isn’t it true that you argued with your father on the morning of the murders?”
“My memory that far back is a little rusty . . . as far as I can remember, I don’t think so, but I can’t be sure,” replied Benjamin.
“Have you ever held or fired your father’s shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor, getting to the nitty gritty of the case.
“No. He wouldn’t let us children handle it, he told us it was dangerous,” stated Benjamin.
“I ask, did you take your father’s shotgun, and kill your own family in a fit of rage?” asked the Prosecution in a badgering mode.
“No, I couldn’t kill those I loved,” replied Benjamin.
“You were found holding your father’s shotgun, covered in blood,” asked the prosecution. “You expect us to believe you be innocent of the crime?”
“I can only answer what I know,” replied a calm Benjamin.
The prosecutor knew in his heart, any evidence that would keep Benjamin James locked away, was never going to come from the accused. “No further questions, for this witness.”
“That concludes the case for the Defence.”
The first witness for the prosecution is Detective Inspector Weaver, who was a Detective Sergeant back in1991.
At the time, it had all the hallmarks of an open and shut case; we had the murderer, the murder weapon, with his finger prints all over, and he was covered in the victim’s blood.
As was the usual procedure, we checked the house top to bottom for any intruders . . . but we didn’t expect to find any, we had our culprit . . . the evidence proved his guilt.
Since the deaths on the 15th August 1991, there has been a death in Barrisgough, one for each of the next seven years.
1992: Linda Harvey killed her husband Christopher, with a kitchen knife.
1993: Jackie Lawson reversed into the path of an oncoming lorry.
1994: Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died from his injuries.
1995: James Harvard killed Mary Laidlaw with a crossbow.
1996: Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. because she refused to serve him.
1997: Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during a burglary.
1998: Peter Quinn poacher, killed Cliff Roberts gamekeeper, a former police officer, who was one of the first on the scene at the James murders.
We have seven deaths, all on the same date each year of the James’ murders. Then by some fluke, discovered in the old rectory well, are supposedly those of a Nun, burnt as a witch. The yearly murders stopped, once her remains are re-buried on sacred ground, and Benjamin spoke for the first time since the murders . . . too much of a coincidence.
“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the prosecutor, believing the deaths on the yearly anniversary would be enough to put doubt into the minds of the court, as to his guilt.
“So you don’t believe in ghosts?” asked the defence rising to his feet.
“No I do not,” proclaimed Weaver.
“Detective Inspector Weaver, is it not true, that most of those who committed an act of murder on the yearly anniversary, stated under oath, of seeing a shadowy figure, wearing a frocked style coat and hat, before they committed murder?” asked the defence.
“Well yes, but we in the police believe in hard facts, not some fanciful tale of ghosts,” replied Weaver.
“Maybe not, but you have to remember, that we have heard in this very court, that the village of Barrisgough is haunted,” the defence counsel put forward.
Weaver nodded in reply.
“In your statement, you stated the police searched the house top to bottom, but made no mention of the access between the cellar and study, by the staircase. Is it not true, that an intruder could have escaped that way?” the defence rammed home this question.
“We never knew of this access staircase, so we can’t be held responsible,” replied Weaver.
“You have to admit, that it is a possibility, that an intruder, could have entered and escaped this way?” pushed the defence.
“Well, yes,” replied Weaver, in a gingerly reply.
“Did you question Donald James, the deceased’s brother?” asked the defence.
“We interviewed him, yes, no further action was needed,” replied Weaver.
“Did you not investigate his background and finances?” the defence asked, watching the bemused witness.
“We had no reason to,” replied Weaver, “for we had our suspect.”
“Would it surprise you to know, that at the time Donald James was in financial difficulty, and had everything to gain from his brother’s death,” stated the defence.
“I was not the lead officer in this case,” Weaver replied, trying to divert attention or blame away from him.
“Did you know, Donald James had been left financial guardian of each child, on an estate worth some twelve million ponds? Of course you didn’t,“ the defence replied, for him, “you didn’t see fit to check him out.”
“Would you not agree, he had the motive?” suggested the defence, watching the witness squirm.
“Well . . . yes,” replied a hesitant Weaver.
“So I ask you, D.I.Weaver, where is Donald James now?” asked the defence.
“We have no idea where he is, the company he owned with his brother has been sold, and he seems to have vanished with his wife to locations unknown,” stated Weaver.
“Along with the money,” suggested the defence.
“Yes,” stated Weaver.
“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the defence, putting yet another question of doubt into the court’s mind, that someone else could be a suspect.
The second witness for the prosecution is Michael Sands, Professor of Psychology. Upon speaking with the accused Benjamin James, he believes the Nun has set him free to express himself after seven years of silence. Even though he believes it, it was more likely to be just natural causes. Since being released from the chains that bound his speech, he now proclaims his innocence, with no evidence to back it up.
Having listened to the police account, of the seven anniversary murders. Could Benjamin be held responsible even though he has been locked up . . . miles away? Over the centuries, some people’s thoughts have been responsible for deaths . . . as to whether this is the case with the accused . . . I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.
“No further questions, for this witness,” the prosecutor nodded in the direction of the defence,”give it your best shot.”
“Professor, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the defence.
“In certain circumstances yes, in other’s no,” replied a cagey Professor.
“So, it is highly possible, for Benjamin to have spoken to a Nun, when he lived in Barrisgough?” asked the defence. “Even though she had to be a ghost, for she died centuries before.”
“Well yes, if one believes the village is haunted,” stated the Professor.
“In the late twenties, there was a horrific train crash where many died, and it is said the dead openly walk among the living. Would you consider this a possibility?” asked the defence.
“I have heard of many such cases, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility,” replied the Professor.
“You mention that proof would prove the guilt or innocence of the accused. He was found with the murder weapon and covered in his victim’s blood. So that would conclusively prove his guilt, would it not?” asked the defence, going down a dangerous route.
“Yes,” replied the Professor.
“So how could one barely five feet tall, fire and load in quick succession a shotgun, nearly three quarters of his height,” suggested the defence.
“You have got me there, I can not give a reasonable answer to that, but I am sure you have one,” replied the Professor with a slight smile.
“Thank you Professor. No further questions for this witness,” the defence acknowledged the court.
The prosecution rolled out one after another witness, confirming the argument Benjamin had with his father that could be heard across the village only hours before the killing spree. It was more out of desperation, most of the original witnesses from the original trial and investigation, had since died.
CLOSING STATEMENT FOR THE DEFENCE:
We the defence concur with the police. When a murder takes place in the home, with no signs of an intruder, they focus on remaining family members, and in a high percentage of cases, they are usually right.
In this case, the police were too quick in finding a suspect to pin these murders on. Benjamin James aged (14) at the time, barely strong enough to hold a double-barrelled shotgun, let alone, fire-load, fire-load, in quick succession.
Why, oh why, did the police, look no further for suspects? I tell you why, they found the only surviving family member, Benjamin James, holding a shotgun on his lap, and his clothes covered in blood. That was more than enough to convict him.
Benjamin still in a state of shock, never spoke a word during police interviews and the trial, just the odd nod to confirm his name, and the occasional shrug of the shoulders. Believing him to be guilty of such a horrific crime, he was found guilty, and detained for an indefinite period.
WE have also heard in this court, events that have taken place in the village of Barrisgough, providing proof that it is indeed haunted. The passengers killed in the train crash of 1921, openly live in the village. Ghostly sightings of a vicar preparing his sermon in the old rectory study. The former Nun, burnt as a witch, who was the James house-keeper, and other’s before.
Benjamin regained his speech, when the Nun’s remains were re-buried on sacred ground. He remembers only snatches of 15th August 1991. Being hugged by somebody in his room and that was how he got blood on his clothes. In today’s world of advanced technology, we would have been able to prove the difference between direct blood splatter, to that of blood transference, from one to another. We have heard in this court, the blood on Benjamin’s clothes was blood transference . . . the killer had hugged him, a final act, passing the blame over to him.
Could the person who hugged Benjamin that fateful day, have been Donald James? He knew his way about the house. It is also common knowledge he handled Peter’s shotgun, and would have known its whereabouts.
You have to ask yourself, who had the most to gain by the death of Peter James, his wife Samantha, and two of their children? The answer should be Donald James, who was very much in debt at the time, and became Benjamin’s guardian on an estate worth twelve million pounds.
So where is Donald James? He sold the business he had with his brother, and taken the money, which was Benjamin’s by right, and fled the country . . . leaving no trace.
Is that not the act of a guilty man?
If you have any doubt, as to Benjamin’s guilt, I ask that you find him innocent of these murders, and put an end to this nightmare, for my client . . . looking straight at Benjamin James, hoping for a sympathy vote from the court.
CLOSING STATEMENT FOR THE PROSECUTION:
I stand before this court, asking that Benjamin James, who was found with a shotgun on his lap, covered in his victim’s blood, should spent the rest of his life behind bars.
The defence asks us to believe, that the village is haunted, that maybe so, but ghosts responsible for deaths in the past, I don’t think so.
On the anniversary of these murders, up until the accused reached twenty0one, a death took place each year in the village, and we are asked to believe it has nothing to do with the accused, looking in the direction of Benjamin James. It is odd, that it stopped when he was twenty-one. It has been suggested these are the act of a ghostly phenomenon, as each murder remembers seeing the ghostly image of a vicar, moments before the killings took place. I put it to you; it is more likely, some sinister act, conjured up by Benjamin.
Grasping at straws, the defence points the guilt towards Donald James, who we now agree had a motive, but could any of you openly kill your brother and his family, pointing at each juror in turn.
No, it is more likely that Benjamin is guilty, and the original sentence should stand. So I ask that you find him guilty.
The evidence from the original trial back in 1991 had proved little doubt as to his guilt. Now it was the turn of the Appeal Court Jury to consider the case, behind closed doors.
At the news that the Court of Appeal had overturned the original conviction, it became front page news for days. Benjamin James was found not guilty, because of technical evidence put forward, proved in all probability, that Benjamin, could barely lift the shotgun in question, let alone fire and reload the shotgun in quick succession . . . and it became the consensus that other parties were responsible for the murders.
The murder scene was entirely consistent with an act of unplanned violence, based on intense, buried emotions, very similar to a crime of passion. Even though Benjamin had been found holding the murder weapon, and covered in the victim’s blood, it proved to be by means of transference, not direct, as would be the case of the murderer.
The gruesome nature of the killing’s is consistent with that of an adult, not that of a young boy, barely tall enough to hold a shotgun.
Benjamin jumped and shouted with joy, his sounds of excitement could be heard around the court . . . “I am free, I am free.” As Father Baines and Gerald Carter gave him a hug, tears ran down his cheeks.
Benjamin James was awarded five million pounds in damages, from the Court of Appeal, in an innocent verdict, for taking away his childhood.
For days after, the news reports added: Someone’s getting away with these murders; where the justice in that. Benjamin James the only survivor of the James murder spree of 1991; where his family was brutally murdered. Someone out there must know something, if so the police are waiting to hear from you.
The police issued a nationwide arrest warrant, for one Donald James, wanted for questioning in the murders of Peter, Samantha, Michael and Christina James killed in August 1991, and fraud.