Friday, 5 April 2013

Reluctant witnesses

Getting people to help is not that easy. As soon as you say it's for a legal case they run a mile.

Back in January two friends helped me by providing text message evidence but it was not straightforward. What happens is their phones have to get sent off to a lab and get downloaded. So they are without a phone for a week.

Not only that but your friends have to trust you with their data. The lab gives your lawyers the download on a USB stick and it legally becomes you properly. I reassured my friends I would not be rifling through their data they were quite relaxed about it,  especially considering no phone for a week.

Even though we had gathered a reasonable amount of material by now we still had work to do. Eleanor de Freitas was going to be charged with Perverting the Course of Justice and that charge has a high burden of proof. We would have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that she intended to lie to the police, and that it wasn't just an accident.

We had one witness that was very important. Carina. I had found out that one of my friends was in fact the cousin of Eleanor's coworkers called Carina. When Eleanor left my flat and went to work at the Body Shop she had told Carina that she had "the best sex of her life" or words to that effect. I only found out this week. We needed to ask Carina if she would give a statement. That evidence would be gold.

However when my lawyers approached Carina she got spooked, she said she would think about it, so she was put on the back burner.

Another key witness was the shop assistance in Ann Summers. Ok we had the CCTV, but if we could combine the CCTV with the statement of someone who was helping us then that would be even better. The manager of the Ann Summers had been approached and she refused to give a statement.

We also tried a few witnesses which we thought might not give evidence but we tried them anyway.

There was Lizzie Noel, who is Eleanor's cousin. She's probably not going to dob her cousin in, but who knows, you won't know unless you try. She had text message evidence on her phone. I remember that Eleanor had texted her from my flat, in the morning. There was one text which I think read "Ec is such a gem" or something like that We had written her a letter and she had ignored it. The investigator later called her and she declined to make a statement.

Otherwise we did have a few people that were prepared to give evidence, so that was good, including another work colleague and some mutual friends. Things were going ok. Of course any person volunteering as a witness was going to have have to be cross examined at trial by Ellie lawyers. No one liked the thought of that.

It was tense. We needed a very strong case for this to get to trial.

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