Years and years ago, our house in Dublin was broken into. The thief didn’t get much because we didn’t have much, but he took a treasured clock which was a present from a relative.
They took measurements and photos. They took fingerprints. They took notes and statements.
They caught somebody.
I received a summons to turn up at the Circuit Court as a witness and, never having been inside a courthouse in my life, I didn’t know what to do, so I asked my friend, the Samoan Attorney.
What’ll I do?
Haw, haw, haw he haw-hawed in his best Law Library haw-haw. Go out and have yourself a motherfucker of a meal. Claim for a day’s lost wages and hand the bill to the court clerk.
I did nothing of the sort, because in those days I had some principles. In those days I didn’t know that everybody in the government was crooked and robbing the country blind, so I did my bit to keep us afloat. Probably, by forbearing to buy a motherfucker of a lunch, I might have paid for the cuff of a Charvet shirt for Haughey.
I just turned up in court, in my poorly-fitting, cheap and rarely-used suit.
They swore in a jury. They sent them away. There was an old judge, whose name I can’t remember, and he read the book of evidence. He looked it over, and he addressed the police.
You arrested this man because you found his fingerprints on the outside of the window and yet he stated that he had never heard of this address. This proves one of three things. He might be a liar, he might have a bad memory, or the Gardai might be liars. The book of evidence provides grounds for gross suspicion, but the day we start imprisoning people on the grounds of gross suspicion is the day we have a police state.
I was deeply impressed by this old judge and I agreed with every word he said. I agreed with him when he dismissed the case against the skobe who had robbed me. Better for a skobe to walk free with my treasured clock than for the State to imprison an innocent person.
All these years later, I think otherwise.
These days, I think we need to be jailing these cunts on any pretext we can find, but I also think we can’t start doing that until we have a professional police force we can trust. That’s something we don’t have, unfortunately. And that’s why skobes will continue to walk free.