Following on from the beginning of the week...
The next witness to come in was the last of the trio. He wandered in like it was an amusing distraction. He cracked jokes with the Court Clerk and sat down, stood up because he wasn’t supposed to sit and grinned at the Magistrates like they were buddies.
I sat and watched it all, bemused.
The witness was well-spoken and eloquent, without the harsh local accent of the previous two and he made quite a good initial impression. I was worried that he would make a credible witness, even though he was lying about most of it.
The witness placed himself in various positions along the road and none of those positions seemed to match up with the previous two witnesses. It was difficult to follow his train of thought and at times, I wondered if he actually remembered anything of the event.
He surprised me by going ‘off-script’ and admitting that he ran over my foot with the buggy. Something he’d not mentioned in his original statement to the police. He laughed at the memory and nodded to me, calling me by my first name, as though we were friends and had been for a long time.
He stuck to the script enough to say that neither of the two women had been swearing and he used the phrase, ‘the F word’ often, as though neither he nor the others would stoop so low as to swear.
He also claimed that he squared up to my son. “I asked Haydn if he was going to start and he said he wasn’t if I wasn’t.”
There are a few things I remember about that man and his ‘outstanding bravery’ is not one of them.
My Solicitor asked about the buggy incident. The witness claimed he was trying to get the child out of the way of the argument.
Trying to picture it in my head, I couldn’t work out why he would deliberately run a buggy into the middle of an argument if he was trying to get the child away. There are lots of directions you can take when trying to avoid a group of people in the middle of the pavement and running directly at the group is literally the only direction you should not take.
There was not much for my Solicitor to do with the witness, he contradicted himself and the previous two so much that he discredited himself and did my case more good than he could imagine.
The next witness for the prosecution was the one I was most worried about. She would be the one the Magistrates looked to for most information because she was neither a friend of mine, nor of the other three. A true independent witness.
She didn’t have much to say. She had heard the argument, the swearing and the phrase, “Why were you threatening my granddaughter?” from me.
She saw the child crying but hadn’t witnessed the reason and therefore, the ‘reasonable doubt’ crept in for my defence.
She then said that she heard everyone swearing, not just me.
“They gave as good as they got.” And “It was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other.”
In other words, she made it clear that the others were not as innocent as they claimed and in fact, they had lied to the magistrates.
On that basis, the Magistrates could see for themselves that the women were liars.
The next witness to take the stand was me.
Here’s the statement my Solicitor wrote with the information I gave. It's called a Proof of Evidence document.
I Michelle GENT deny that I assaulted REDACTED(child) on 17th July 2018 and further deny that I used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards REDACTED(Witness 1) with intent to make her fear that unlawful violence would be used against her.
I would wish to state I am a person of good character. I have never been in trouble with the Police before.
Over the years I have been a door supervisor and have therefore received professional training in how to deal with conflict situations. I have indeed been faced with serious conflict situations in the past and have never lost control of them. I have never been arrested and / or accused of behaving in an unacceptable manner.
I have been a County Councillor and worked all of my life. I am married with 2 children, Haydn and Danielle. I am a grandmother.
On the afternoon in question I picked up my daughter, Danielle from her hospital treatment and we decided to visit Tammy, Haydn’s fiancée. Tammy had been in hospital for an emergency operation and was still recovering.
Dani phoned Haydn to ask if it was OK to visit and he asked if we could pick him up from school where he was fetching his daughter, Mia.
We parked up on the street top-side the school, facing down the hill (approximately 50-55 metres from the school entrance, 15 metres from the junction with Victoria Street) and waited. My car is a silver Porsche Cayenne and I was parked with the driver’s side against the kerb.
Mia ran past the car and Haydn shouted her back. I kept an eye on her through the driver’s side wing-mirror.
Two women walked towards the car and one nudged the other, drew her hand across her throat and pointed at Mia. I don’t think that they either saw me sitting in the car or were aware that I was linked to Mia, probably because she ran past the car. I didn’t know either of the 2 women. I had never seen or met them before.
I now know that the woman who made the gesture was REDACTED (Witness 1). As she drew level with my car, I opened the car door and asked, “What was all that about?”.
I did not shout through the window. It was not open at the time. I opened the door and spoke to them through the door.
I did not shout any threat to kill her.
REDACTED (Wit 1) looked at me and responded with a torrent of obscenities. She then fully turned to face me. She gestured at me, throwing her hands in the air in an arrogant and threatening manner. The other woman, who I now know to be REDACTED (Witness 2), also turned to face me and though her gestures were not as exaggerated, they were much the same as the REDACTED (Wit 1). Both women were yelling and swearing at me, telling me to mind my own fucking business etc. as they backed up the street.
I did not get out of the car and lunge at her.
I got out of the car, closed the door and followed the women up the pavement. Past my car, towards the junction, REDACTED (Wit 2) stepped directly in front of me, putting herself between REDACTED (Wit 1) and myself. I stopped walking.
Due to an injury to my shoulder, I kept a distance from the women as much as possible because any contact with my right arm caused intense, sharp pain. I wanted to know why she had threatened Mia, my 6-year-old granddaughter, with the “cut throat” gesture.
I have suffered from a “frozen shoulder” for a long time now. I have a letter from my physiotherapist to support this.
I lifted my right hand in front of me to put a barrier between myself and REDACTED (Wit 2) and she made a grab for my hand. I pulled it back and stepped back a little, almost onto the road.
During all this, REDACTED (Wit 1) was yelling and swearing at me. I am not proud to admit that I returned with similar. I accept I swore at REDACTED (Wit 1).
I did not shout any threats to kill her. I would not say anything like that even as a joke.
A few years ago, my husband and I were on holiday in Scotland with some friends. One of them made a comment about me and I responded by saying “I could kill you for that, cheeky!” The very next day he was found dead in his tent. He had died in his sleep. It turned out that for some time he had been suffering a terminal illness without letting us, his friends and family know, and purely by coincidence he died the next day. However, this really shocked me and I vowed never to say anything like that again.
As I was stood facing REDACTED (Wit 1) and REDACTED (Wit 2) someone ran up behind me from the direction of the school, rammed his buggy containing a child into my left leg and knocked me off-balance. I stepped into the road and turned to deal with this attack.
I did not at any time push the child out of the way as alleged. I accept there were lots of children around because it was school closing time. However, I never pushed any as I walked after the 2 women.
I would make the following observation; had I pushed a child aged 5 years, would I not have pushed him in the head and therefore his head would surely have hit the wall. He is not reported as having any injury to his head. As to the claim that he was crying, I would simply suggest that given the vitriolic manner in which his mother REDACTED (Wit 2) was shouting at me, in concert with her friend REDACTED (Wit 1), I can well appreciate he would have felt scared and upset and this would have caused him to cry.
My son Haydn arrived. He diffused the situation and told me to go back to my car.
We drove away from the school. It is correct that we drove “round the block” and saw REDACTED (Wit 1) and REDACTED (Wit 2) a few moments later. I may have shouted at them to “Go away and leave us alone,” but that was all.
The following day, I was asked to pick up Mia again, due to Mia’s mother, Tammy still being unable to go out. I was worried about further confrontation, so my husband took an hour off work and we both went to fetch Mia from school. We waited inside the school gates and the two women walked past us without further incident.
The reason I was asked to fetch Mia is because Leanne had threatened Tammy’s friend, REDACTED when she fetched her and neither Tammy nor REDACTED wanted to risk a confrontation in front of Mia.