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Looking for White Van Man


The prosecution used the white van to account for my alleged swerve into the path of Car Genie's Astra.
In so doing, it inextricably linked the locus (to use the legal jargon) of the broken-down van with the locus of the incident.

The white van was not mentioned in either of the 2 witness statements taken by PC Bell, nor was it mentioned in the sole precognition statement given by Rob Roy.
The first I knew of it was on the day of the trial.

I knew there hadn't been a van obstructing the road and I became rather interested in its origin.
At first though, I assumed it was just another invention, one intended by the prosecution to add credibility to its case.
After the trial, I wrote to Betty 'Boop' Bott, the Procurator Fiscal, but she refused to tell me when she first became aware of the white van.
So I wrote to the Chief Constable and was astonished when Inspector Gordon Taylor of Tayside's Divisional Road Policing Unit contacted me to say that a patrol car had attended such a vehicle at the locus given in court.
Over the phone, I asked if he could identify the patrol officer with a view to asking him for further details of the breakdown.
Taylor became obstructive: the officer's name was not in the report, he claimed.
I asked for a copy of the report and was told it was "an operational matter".

Months later, I realised I could ask for a copy of the report by mentioning the Freedom of Information Act. I was eventually sent a redacted copy of a
Police Incident Log.
It recorded merely that a vehicle had broken down and was attended to by a Recovery vehicle. There was no registration number nor any details to identify the vehicle.

But the Log did give a 12-figure grid reference, which placed the breakdown at the Swallow Roundabout, almost a mile to the west of the alleged "accident" locus.
Although Insp Taylor later claimed the grid reference referred to the entire Kingsway, I believe it to be quite a bit more accurate than that: if Tayside Police only need a rough idea of where its patrol cars are, it would not fit them with sophisticated sat navs.
I also had no reason to believe an officer who had already told me lies and half-truths.
The Log gave the times the breakdown was first recorded and when the van was driven away, having been fixed by the Recovery vehicle.
Remarkably, it was first recorded about 40 minutes after I had passed the Swallow Roundabout. That is to say, 40 minutes after the alleged incident had taken place, according to the Prosecution.

It seemed highly likely that this vehicle was the white van: no other breakdowns were recorded that evening; and not even Insp Taylor tried to claim that an obstruction would remain unattended for 40 minutes on such a well-patrolled road as the Kingsway.

I made further enquiries and found that the patrol officer could be identified from the Log. I asked for him to be interviewed.
Not surprisingly, the anonymous officer claimed to remember nothing about an insignificant incident that had taken place so long ago.

I contacted a local paper, the Dundee Courier, but got no help from the editor or his staff. Still, I placed an
advert in the rag, asking for the driver of the van to come forward, offering a reward. There were no takers.

I also phoned several local garages that operate recovery services but found none that had attended the incident.

I wondered if Car Genie had learned of the van from one of his police contacts.
Alternatively, I thought he might have driven past it on his way home that evening - one of his routes home takes him past the Swallow Roundabout.
But eventually I concluded that the most likely explanation is that Rob Roy, having left her workplace in Perth some 30 to 45 minutes after The Singing Fish, remembered seeing it parked by the roadside, with a patrol car in attendance, and mentioned it to her boyfriend, who decided it was worth incorporating into the fake account.