I had to go to court today to challenge a speeding fine. I wasn’t contesting my innocence (it was definitely me). I was claiming that I’d never received the initial accusation or subsequent reminders that had ultimately led to an epic fine. My reasonable but ultimately embarrassing defence: That I’d been caught speeding two other times that year and had responded promptly on both occasions.
Having never been to court before I didn’t realise that I’d need to go through an airport-style security check / metal detector. They let me keep the guitar strings (garrotte) that I’d just bought, but confiscated a sachet of Lemsip (pledging that I could have it back afterwards).
‘Are you aware that you have blood all over your face and shirt?’ one of the guards asked.
‘No, is there a lot?’
‘Quite a bit.’
‘Do you have a mirror?’
‘Martin Cororan to court 7,’ came over the Tannoy.
‘Is there a sink I could use to make myself more presentable?’
‘There’s a loo just over there, but they don’t like to be kept waiting. Court 7’s at the end.’
I made a beeline for the bathroom and surveyed the damage – two shaving cuts and three large (five-pence piece) blots on my collar (no wonder the guy in the guitar shop gave me a protracted grimace!) Furious scrubbing made the horror less obvious, but now I was soaking wet.
As I exited I was struck by just how much sexually graphic graffiti there was on the inside door. It would seem the one place you’d wish to avoid being caught casting dispersions regarding who had a penchant for fellatio, but hey-ho.
There were three magistrates in the courtroom sitting behind a long table. I was asked to step into the dock whereupon I instantly became guilty of all things.
My voice sounded calm as I answered their initial questions.
Just like a sociopath I thought. If I were them I’d think ‘That guy incurred those cuts having crashed his car whilst speeding to attend the hearing. Lets lock him up forever…’
Proceedings went a little sideways when I was asked when the offence occurred. I didn’t know the exact date and neither did they (as the records were held elsewhere). I was asked to hazard a guess.
I was then asked how I wished to plead in relation to the charge of speeding.
In the surreal moment of being before three people, two of whom had not looked at me once and in a slightly elevated isolated booth I felt the question was a little ambiguous. Was this the first part of a two-part question?
‘How do you mean?’ I asked like an imbecile. ‘I’m guilty of driving over the limit.’
‘Over the limit?’
‘The speed limit.’
It was clarified for me. ‘The speeding fine has been set aside Mr. Cororan.’
‘…Which I’m guilty of.’
‘In that case, not guilty.’
The Cororan Defence: Proving your innocence of one crime by revealing you’re way more guilty of another…