Improbability Driving the narrative
Looking for White Van Man
How Did They Do That?
A Kangaroo in the Court Room
How to Procure Injustice
The Cost of Injustice
1 - Letter to the Sheriff
2 - Letter to the ex-Procurator Fiscal
1 - Letter to Sheriff McCulloch
(The Sheriff of Not Spotting Lies)
Dear Sheriff McCulloch,
You may remember me as the defendant who was furiously scribbling while Witness 3, a woman, struggled to identify him.
It seemed an unusual failing in a place where the defendant is rather obvious.
I wasn't surprised at her difficulty: the witness had never seen me before.
I just wonder what you made of her inability - she had to be asked 3 times before her wavering finger pointed at me.
Did you record it in the Notes I saw you writing? I would like to ask to see those Notes.
You asked two interesting questions of the other two witnesses, both of which must surely have created doubt in your mind.
The first question (referring to my car) was put to Witness 1 (a car driver):
"how does it pass you again if it's already in front of you?"
The witness recovered himself and said that at the time he was confused and: "a wee bit shocked". Yet he was sufficiently
compos mentis to have remembered, until he wrote them down, two registration numbers.
You might like to try it sometime - on a busy road, make a mental note of two number plates, then try to recall them
both later - you won't find it easy, even when you're fully composed and not as agitated as he claimed to be.
On reviewing my notes, I found another instance of a similar improbable manoeuvre - Witness 3 said
I had overtaken her motorcycle despite just stating that my car was in front of her.
If you spotted this piece of embroidery you made no remark.
But is it mentioned in your Notes?
Then, just before the lunch recess, you asked Witness 2 what kind of motorcycle he rode.
On being told the make and model (Kawasaki ZX1100 D9), you commented, "quite a powerful machine",
and seemed to raise a quizzical eyebrow.
This was after being told that he, the motorcyclist, obeyed speed limits and never passed on the inside, the implication
being that he was an exemplary motorist.
So we have a motorcyclist sticking to the 50mph speed limit being passed on the inside by a Citroen driver doing 60mph
(according to the Crown witnesses). When the Citroen comes to a broken down van blocking the lane it swerves into the path of
Our pillion passenger (Witness 3) says in court: "I got quite a fright", as though the incident had happened
right in front of her.
It ought to have been obvious to you that the two vehicles could not possibly have arrived at the broken down van at the same time.
Well, they both started from the Myrekirk Road roundabout at the same time (or so Witnesses 2 and 3 said);
on arriving at the locus 230 metres up the road, the Citroen would have been 45 metres ahead of the motorcycle,
given the claimed speed differential of 10mph.
Do you think it likely that Witness 3 would have got a fright at such a distance?
Would the riders have even seen the incident, given their claim that there was a queue of traffic in the outside lane?
In view of the above, I would like to know if any doubts you may have had were recorded in your Notes.
Since your verdict went against me, I presume that any such doubts did not add up to 'reasonable doubt'.
Were your doubts simply swamped by the weight of numbers (three) against me (one)?
Or do you fondly imagine that witnesses / victims always tell the truth in your court?
You weren't presented with any hard evidence to corroborate the claims of the Crown witnesses so did you, perhaps,
resort to the old Balance of Probabilities test?
As you do not have access to an Improbability Drive that would do the calculations (only the Crown witnesses have
one of those) and plainly do not have a brain the size of a planet, you could not, in the limited time at your
disposal, properly assess the probabilities.
Given your remark that the incidents were so disparate that they might have taken place on different days, you surely
had a responsibilty to make such an assessment.
It's a serious charge, Dangerous Driving - you could have called an adjournment to consider the probabilities.
No need! Your dilemma was resolved by my solicitor, who made me reveal that I had driven for over 4 hours without a break.
Perfect! You declared that I would have been tired and so might not have registered the obstructions on the road.
But was your assertion based on anything that was said in court?
The only possible evidence I can find came from the motorcyclist, Witness 2.
When asked about the manner of my driving he said, "he wasn't hanging about" and later, "I think he wanted to beat me".
I would not have thought that either of these two statements would lead a rational person to infer that I was sleepy.
Allow me to summarise the improbabilities, those incongruent statements that ought to have created doubt in your mind because they
cannot be put down to simple errors of recollection.
Witness 1 (the car driver) was able to remember 2 registration numbers whilst being shocked and confused.
Witness 1 said he recorded the motorcyclist's registration number.
How did he know the rider would be a willing witness?
Witness 2 (the motorcyclist), said I nearly collided with him at the Swallow roundabout; then he witnessed the near collision involving Witness 1;
later he said I undertook him near the Strathmartine roundabout.
Why did he not, of his own volition, report these dangerous manoeuvres to the police?
Both Witnesses 2 and 3 said I'd been driving faster than them.
Yet 230 metres up the road they observed a near collision with Witness 1 as though they were on the spot, right behind.
I hope, my esteemed Sheriff, you understand the problems here.
Apart from taking statements from the witnesses (but not from me), the Police did not investigate any aspect of the case.
The Crown only disclosed its case to the defence at the very last moment, just before the trial.
Consequently, my solicitor was unprepared for a rigorous examination of what turned out to be rather complex evidence
(it must have been complex if you failed to spot many of the obvious improbabilities in the prosecution's fable).
There were some questions my solicitor could not ask, but you could.
You could have asked the Fiscal Depute if she'd looked for any corroborating evidence that the Police might hold.
After all, there was a chance that I, a supposedly reckless driver, might have triggered a speed camera on the A90.
A good chance, too, that I might have some previous.
Any conscientious prosecuting solicitor would have checked, wouldn't they?
After the verdict, I learned that convicted people are denied the right of appeal on the evidence; in addition, the official
records of the proceedings that would facilitate an appeal on a point of law do not exist.
This is why I would like to see your Notes1 - so that I can continue my campaign against your verdict.
I am, my lord,
your most sceptical victim
1 Sheriff's Notes
In 2017 I submitted a Subject Access Request to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to gain access to your Notes.
I was informed that the Notes are your personal property, so are not available.
I appealed to the Information Commissioner, represented by the unfortunately named Joanna Hoof (because her response
was ill-prepared - on the hoof, as it were).
She wrote (my emphasis): "it does not appear that the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service have complied with the DPA (Data Protection Act)".
I got my hopes up but her next sentence dashed them.
Ms Hoof said the Notes "would not be disclosable under subject access".
She'd made a simple mistake: the not, she wrote later, "is an error on my behalf and i (sic) am sorry this has
caused you confusion".
A judge's notes, she explained, have to be on the court file to be disclosable and yours, being kept in a drawer at home, are not.
In 2018 I sent you the following request:
Following a recent ruling by the ICO I applied to see your handwritten court notes but was denied access on the grounds that they are your personal property.
So I thought it appropriate to write to your home address to ask if you would kindly furnish me with a copy of those notes, written on 2 March 2005 in
Court 5 at Dundee Sheriff Court.
As there was none of the corroborative, hard evidence* that would make the reasons for my conviction obvious,
I would like to see if the notes cast any light on how you made your decision.
* The only such evidence, a Police Incident Log, was not disclosed to the court (the data it contains would not have supported
the Crown's version of events).
The request ended up at the Judicial Office for Scotland. This body followed the standard practice of ignoring letters that asked awkward questions.
Eventually, though, after filing a Complaint, I got the following response from the Policy Manager:
"I can confirm that judicial office holder’s notebooks are their personal property and confidential and are not subject to a Subject Access Requests.
This of course an important element of the principle of judicial independence and accords with the rule of law.
Most notes taken by the judge in the course of proceedings are part of their private deliberations,
which will set out their final decision or judgement which sets out the reasoning in the case.
Deliberations are not the personal data of a party in a case.
I can confirm that Sheriff McCulloch has been informed of your request and asked the Judicial Office to respond informing you that his
notes are private and personal, as stated above."
2 - Letter to Betty Bott
(ex-Procurator Fiscal for Dundee)
Dear Mrs Bott,
From time to time I run an internet check on the fantasists, narcissists and chancers1 who were involved in my court case in Dundee
on 2 March 2005.
I note you are no longer in public service and hope you may be willing to comment on the case, supposing you can recall the details.
In court, your depute accused me of dangerous driving, claiming that around 17:30 near the BP garage on the Kingsway I swerved
(to avoid a broken down van) into the path of another car.
The driver said his car was damaged when it hit the central reservation but a police officer who examined it found only a scuff
mark on a tyre.
I wondered if the fact that your main witness may have lied in his very first statement to the police raised any suspicions in your mind.
Furthermore, since he alone supplied the police with his supporting witness's registration number I wondered if this raised any doubts
about the independence of your witnesses2.
The story about the broken down van was sprung on the defence a few hours before the trial. As it was not mentioned in any of the
statements shown to my solicitor, I wondered when you first got to hear of it.
You did not enlighten me - I am sorry to say you were not inclined to answer my post-trial questions about the case.
After the trial I asked Tayside Police if they knew about the broken down van. They told me that yes, they had attended
such a breakdown at 18:11 at the Swallow Roundabout.
In my blogs about the case I have promoted my opinion that the prosecution was both casual and careless:
you knew that having three people who claimed to be witnesses3 would automatically get you a conviction
and so did not bother to ask for basic checks about their story and its inconsistencies.
I contend that you failed in your duty of care towards me.
That is how it appeared to me. Is it fair though?
Any reply you care to make may be taken down and used in my blogs.
1 fantasists - your witnesses; narcissists - my solicitor; chancers - you and your team
2 David Howdle wrote: "There is no evidence to suggest that the two witnesses in the first car (sic - it was actually a motorbike)
knew the third witness. They do not live in the same part of the area.
There is nothing to suggest that they might have colluded. Why would they?"
I replied telling him that they were born and brought up in Strathmartine, in neighbouring streets.
They were friends. This was how one witness was able to supply the other's registration number.
In court, they said they were strangers.
As for the motive, I have no idea.
3 There was actually just one witness - that was me, witnessing a road rage event perpetrated by your chief 'witness'.
Of the other two 'witnesses' to the event, one was 250 metres away at the time while the other was almost certainly about 35000 metres away, in Perth - that is why she was nervous on the witness stand and had trouble identifying me.