Suspects should not be suspects for long.
What are the conditions that conspire to bring about a state of being placed under suspicion?
Consider a missing glove; one of a pair of ladies gloves. You are male, you were in the vicinity, had opportunity etc. This missing glove has not been found about your person but there are six people…: a retired solicitor, a barrister, an investor, a retired lady, a former employer of the victim and the victim who are prepared to contribute insights about your character and movements and can attest to the fact that you were at the scene and to the best of their knowledge when no else had been. It’s looking bad. The first thing to establish is whether this is a criminal offence and one that would attract legal sanctions. Is it theft?
Whilst this is a curious scenario and one that would attract protest on the ground that a man is unlikely to pinch one of a pair of ladies gloves! Well, the gender of accused or object matters little. But it cannot be of use to the thief or at least there are very few reasons I can think of for taking one glove and it doesn’t matter, does it? It is still depriving the owner of their property and is therefore, theft. As for the peculiar worthlessness and the uselessness of the object to a man or indeed anyone, this is a matter for the psychiatrist.
However, what if you, the suspect, didn’t take the glove? The butcher, baker and candlestick maker have had a hand in establishing… shall we say, likely guilt; they have contributed to revealing aspects of your character. You may be a teller of tall tales, objects may have gone missing in the past when you were withing a mile of the scene and you may have had a bad relationship with your Mother or may have been more than a little smug when you got a higher grade at school and any number of things along these lines and this is all said before you even get a chance to put your part let alone in open court. This is what happens especially when credible, competent and compellable witnesses such as these weigh in. You’re the only one who knows you didn’t take the glove don’t forget. What the hell are you going to do?
The unfortunate position is that there is no proof… there is very little you can do. You didn’t have the glove about you and you know why; yet the idiomatic expression “no smoke without fire” is kindling; others will learn of this and yet more people will hear when you might find that a single glove becomes a precious family heirloom and that when you were known as the teller of tall tales you become a bare-faced liar and these allegations reach corners of society that you would not otherwise reach. So the upshot is that no charges are brought on the ground that there was no evidence and maybe because of the low value (although that shouldn’t happen) you were/are a suspect and may well continue to be subjected to the unpleasant reverberations for a long time to come.
… NOT PROVEN?
Would you want the authorities to pursue legal action against you?
Would you want anonymity in the legal process?
Would you want to bring actions for defamation?
Those who do nothing wrong…,
Here lies the body of Ezra Pound…,
lost at sea and never was found.
Whenever I see these lines, I locate a school room with wooden desks, a blackboard and the faces of some thirty children and with embarrassment I also recall our English Literature teacher presenting each of us kids with an anthology poetry book (this did happen in schools) asking us to choose a poem with the intention that we would study and write about it. I chose the above… it was on the first page and at two lines…, it was a gift! It turned out to be less so…; our teacher wasn’t stupid, in fact he was wise to slackers and a great poetry fan when I didn’t even know who (anon) the writer was and thought the name Ezra Pound that of an unknown subject of a lymerick. Of course we were introduced to Ezra Pound and amid groans and grimaces, we received our path of discovery and the two lines I found in the little book still makes me smile even though my cheeks flush a little too.
He would, wouldn’t he…
Mandy Rice-Davies (RIP)
Do you recall any snippets or words of the wise that have inspired you? I would love to hear your ponderings on any of the above.