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Surviving the Witness Box

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Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Cristobell on 11.02.13 21:00

How sad to hear of the suicide of Frances Andrade, the violinist, and I wish I could have spoken to her, before or during 'her' trial. The old Catholic in me lit a candle and said a prayer.

The truth is, many will now be looking towards criminal and civil actions in the wake of the Savile revelations. Having spent a day and half in the witness box, be warned, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that as a witness, it is YOU who is on trial.

Those Masters of the dark legal arts, swish their black gowns and posture in stances taken straight from Dickins. Skilled and honed by centuries of selective breeding, they are accomplished thespians and wordsmiths, but more creepy. They have that all important killer instinct and they like to play with their victim before they look to His Honour for permission to go in for the kill. You are the scallywag who wandered onto an Eton Playing field, there is no mercy.

Am I right to say that? Hell, yeh. In the wake of the trial, suicide was an option. I had been savaged and broken, but I could still write, and it saved my life. Will my book Cry and You Cry alone help others? I have tortured myself with that question so often. Should I tell others about the mental torture to expect in the witness box? I was not warned what to expect, and I don't blame the professionals for that. I wouldn't have wanted to tell me either. Mentally, I was much too unbalanced to cope with it.

The Learned barrister had reduced me to a sobbing heap. All my hard work to achieve my BA(Hons), my love of P.G. Wodehouse, my well mannered children, I had come so far, but in that court room, I was still one of the plebs, trying to get something I wasn't entitled to! I wasn't allowed to suggest that a man who had been found with a 15 year old boy in his bed, was a paedophile. His reputation had to be protected.

Despite my 'scallywag' background (see, I can laugh at it now), I took the decision to write my story warts and all, and I was fortunate to find a publisher straight away. Tell or don't tell, my moral dilemma continues to haunt me, but then I think, of my own trial, and I wish I had known then, what I know now. And that was the clincher.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cry-You-Alone-Vowed-Forget/dp/1780575289/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by guest. on 11.02.13 22:08

I didn't realise that was your book Cristobell, you are a very brave and inspirational lady

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Guest on 11.02.13 22:19

And what a beautiful little girl.

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Cristobell on 11.02.13 22:31

sally66 wrote:I didn't realise that was your book Cristobell, you are a very brave and inspirational lady


Many thanks Sally. I mostly use twitter now (Rosalinda V. Hutton) as I am able to hook up with other survivors, others such as Teresa Cooper (author) who is also campaigning. At the moment the Catholic Church admits liability for the abuse by the Sisters of Mercy in Eire, but not in the UK, where they fight (quite viciously) each case to the death. In some cases quite literally.

With the passing of that hideous Pope, lets hope they find some compassion in their coffers. So many lives could be validated and turned around.

Oops, got on my soapbox there, sorry, just that I feel I have a heightened sense of injustice, Many of us feel that way. the bottom line is, if the death of a much loved child, can been treated so callously, then we must fear for hundreds of NHS patients.

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Spaniel on 11.02.13 22:41

"Those Masters of the dark legal arts, swish their black gowns and posture in stances taken straight from Dickins. Skilled and honed by centuries of selective breeding, they are accomplished thespians and wordsmiths, but more creepy. They have that all important killer instinct and they like to play with their victim before they look to His Honour for permission to go in for the kill. You are the scallywag who wandered onto an Eton Playing field, there is no mercy. "

Sounds like the nuns at my old school.

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by PeterMac on 11.02.13 22:56

The logical result of the English legal system which uses an Adversarial system to determine justice, against all the Roman law base systems which are Inquisitorial, always strikes the actual people who take part in what is in fact a "drama", as unfair.
I have watched trials in Germany, and have taken part in many in England.
I was once asked by a barrister during a recess in a case I was sitting in on, with a State Prosecutor and a Senior Detective from Bavaria (we were doing Rogatories for a murder in a little town in the South) which system I preferred.
My reply was simple.
If I was guilty I would prefer the English system
If innocent, the German / Continental system.

It is no part of English law to discover what happened. It is not interesting to find the facts.
What matters is whether the State, the Prosecution, can prove you guilty.
It is also not interesting whether you actually did it or not.
The court is not interested in 'factual guilt.' Only in 'legal guilt'.

It is supposed to be a good system, but it leads to some dreadful results.
People are locked up, or in previous times went to the gallows, even though they could never have possibly committed the crime of which they were found Guilty.
But their protestations of innocence and their attempts at appeals are futile, because the proper procedures were gone through and 12 people, each of them too stupid to avoid Jury service, found them guilty.

(I used to enjoy cross examination at the hands of a good Junior or sometimes a Silk. But only because I could beat them at their own game.
Sadly they got to know me, and stopped trying.)

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by guest. on 11.02.13 23:06

@Cristobell wrote:
sally66 wrote:I didn't realise that was your book Cristobell, you are a very brave and inspirational lady


Many thanks Sally. I mostly use twitter now (Rosalinda V. Hutton) as I am able to hook up with other survivors, others such as Teresa Cooper (author) who is also campaigning. At the moment the Catholic Church admits liability for the abuse by the Sisters of Mercy in Eire, but not in the UK, where they fight (quite viciously) each case to the death. In some cases quite literally.

With the passing of that hideous Pope, lets hope they find some compassion in their coffers. So many lives could be validated and turned around.

Oops, got on my soapbox there, sorry, just that I feel I have a heightened sense of injustice, Many of us feel that way. the bottom line is, if the death of a much loved child, can been treated so callously, then we must fear for hundreds of NHS patients.

You've every right to get on your soapbox, it's a horrendous injustice that needs righting and full credit to all of you who are fighting for it to happen.

I'm hoping that in the current climate that a lot of child abuse cases (of all types) will be bought to justice and from that children will feel they can speak out now if they need to rather than suffer it and only be able to speak out as an adult.

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Cristobell on 11.02.13 23:25

@admin wrote:And what a beautiful little girl.

Ahh, thank you. The lopsided haircut was the result of a tantrum in the hairdressers!

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Cristobell on 11.02.13 23:29

@Spaniel wrote:"Those Masters of the dark legal arts, swish their black gowns and posture in stances taken straight from Dickins. Skilled and honed by centuries of selective breeding, they are accomplished thespians and wordsmiths, but more creepy. They have that all important killer instinct and they like to play with their victim before they look to His Honour for permission to go in for the kill. You are the scallywag who wandered onto an Eton Playing field, there is no mercy. "

Sounds like the nuns at my old school.



Even now the swish of gowns, sends a shiver down me! Our nuns had rosary beads hanging from their belts, actually, probably all nuns do. And they each wore a gold wedding ring, married to Christ. Something, the agnostics among us, might compare to a strange cult.

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Cristobell on 11.02.13 23:36

@PeterMac wrote:The logical result of the English legal system which uses an Adversarial system to determine justice, against all the Roman law base systems which are Inquisitorial, always strikes the actual people who take part in what is in fact a "drama", as unfair.
I have watched trials in Germany, and have taken part in many in England.
I was once asked by a barrister during a recess in a case I was sitting in on, with a State Prosecutor and a Senior Detective from Bavaria (we were doing Rogatories for a murder in a little town in the South) which system I preferred.
My reply was simple.
If I was guilty I would prefer the English system
If innocent, the German / Continental system.

It is no part of English law to discover what happened. It is not interesting to find the facts.
What matters is whether the State, the Prosecution, can prove you guilty.
It is also not interesting whether you actually did it or not.
The court is not interested in 'factual guilt.' Only in 'legal guilt'.

It is supposed to be a good system, but it leads to some dreadful results.
People are locked up, or in previous times went to the gallows, even though they could never have possibly committed the crime of which they were found Guilty.
But their protestations of innocence and their attempts at appeals are futile, because the proper procedures were gone through and 12 people, each of them too stupid to avoid Jury service, found them guilty.

(I used to enjoy cross examination at the hands of a good Junior or sometimes a Silk. But only because I could beat them at their own game.
Sadly they got to know me, and stopped trying.)


I would be interested to see a German trial - and wonder what their success rate is in comparison to the UK? Your summing up, sounds about right though.

I did laugh at your reference to Jury being too stupid to avoid Jury service. I was actually called a few years ago, and loved it! It wasn't a particularly exciting trial, but I did get a few '12 Just Men' moments, and managed to talk a few around. Of course, it may just have been that they were eager to get to lunch.

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Cristobell on 12.02.13 0:14

sally66 wrote:
@Cristobell wrote:
sally66 wrote:I didn't realise that was your book Cristobell, you are a very brave and inspirational lady


Many thanks Sally. I mostly use twitter now (Rosalinda V. Hutton) as I am able to hook up with other survivors, others such as Teresa Cooper (author) who is also campaigning. At the moment the Catholic Church admits liability for the abuse by the Sisters of Mercy in Eire, but not in the UK, where they fight (quite viciously) each case to the death. In some cases quite literally.

With the passing of that hideous Pope, lets hope they find some compassion in their coffers. So many lives could be validated and turned around.

Oops, got on my soapbox there, sorry, just that I feel I have a heightened sense of injustice, Many of us feel that way. the bottom line is, if the death of a much loved child, can been treated so callously, then we must fear for hundreds of NHS patients.

You've every right to get on your soapbox, it's a horrendous injustice that needs righting and full credit to all of you who are fighting for it to happen.

I'm hoping that in the current climate that a lot of child abuse cases (of all types) will be bought to justice and from that children will feel they can speak out now if they need to rather than suffer it and only be able to speak out as an adult.




One of the accusations constantly thrown at survivors who come forward many years later, is 'why didn't you tell'. Even now, I ask myself over and over. I did tell at the start I think, and I took several beatings for it. A statement from my social worker was produced in Court. It said there was a time when I was quiet and withdrawn (the opposite of my character), and when she questioned me, I said there was nothing wrong. I don't know why, I can only think that I did not have the emotional maturity to understand what was going on around me. And as ridiculous as it sounds, I was an avid reader of stories with downtrodden heroines, and thought that was what life was like. I was always away with the fairies, in my head I could escape the reality around me. I've studied much psychology since I have been following this case. So apologies for the navel gazing.

I didn't want people to know. As a young adult, I was a bit of a snob, only my closest friends knew my background. I didn't want to discuss it at work, or with anyone. I also vowed that I would never hurt my beloved father with the details of St. Anne's. He was a psychiatric nurse, and though dedicated to his patients (as they then were), he himself was crippled with bipolar. I always felt a sadness around him about our being taken into care, it broke his heart. I could never have brought the case in his lifetime.

We each have our own reasons. Probably the most valid at the time, was the fact that we knew our lives would be hell if we told. Should add I was not sexually abused, but our house was ruled by a sadistic ex Jesuit monk who got his jollies with pain. He ruled in terror alongside a vicious, sexually frustrated nun, who didn't have the intelligence to know that he liked boys. We girls, and the younger kids, suffered constant cruelty and violence.

Ahhh, well, I will stop ranting. It is great that people affected are now coming together, the wonders of the internet eh? :)




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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Bob Southgate on 12.02.13 0:28

The good old Catholic Church. You should look at the corruption which is their marriage annulment process to give an insight as to how sordid the organisation is. My wife had divorced her first husband before we met and had been married for 11 years. Her ex wanted to re-marry, having found a lady who was a Catholic and unmarried, but as divorce is not recognised it would not be possible to remarry in a Catholic church unless he was able to get his first marriage annulled.

A tall order after an 11 year marriage? Not a bit of it. He was interviewed, my wife was interviewed (she chose to go, she didn't have to aprticipate) and she was very frank about his gambling problems and how she had to keep bailing him out. On the basis of his gambling issues they decided that he wasn't mature or responsible enough to have got married at the age of 23 and didn't really know what he was doing and granted the annulment.

I guess it didn't occur to them that the same issues could be there, but then what would I know. I wonder how much he had to pay them for this service?
One thing I do know and that is the Catholic church is an organisation that is corrupt and rotten to the core, in my humble opinion, which is based on what I saw during the annulment process. It was reinforced on hearing that the wife of Irish singer Daniel O'Donnell, who had been married before and had children from that marriage, was also able to get an annulment of her first marriage.

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Cristobell on 12.02.13 0:48

@Bob Southgate wrote:The good old Catholic Church. You should look at the corruption which is their marriage annulment process to give an insight as to how sordid the organisation is. My wife had divorced her first husband before we met and had been married for 11 years. Her ex wanted to re-marry, having found a lady who was a Catholic and unmarried, but as divorce is not recognised it would not be possible to remarry in a Catholic church unless he was able to get his first marriage annulled.

A tall order after an 11 year marriage? Not a bit of it. He was interviewed, my wife was interviewed (she chose to go, she didn't have to aprticipate) and she was very frank about his gambling problems and how she had to keep bailing him out. On the basis of his gambling issues they decided that he wasn't mature or responsible enough to have got married at the age of 23 and didn't really know what he was doing and granted the annulment.

I guess it didn't occur to them that the same issues could be there, but then what would I know. I wonder how much he had to pay them for this service?
One thing I do know and that is the Catholic church is an organisation that is corrupt and rotten to the core, in my humble opinion, which is based on what I saw during the annulment process. It was reinforced on hearing that the wife of Irish singer Daniel O'Donnell, who had been married before and had children from that marriage, was also able to get an annulment of her first marriage.



Sounds a bit like those old Papal Absolutions that people in medieval times bought for their dead loved ones. Its quite a scam eh, nutjobs (like Blair) think they can buy their way into heaven. He obviously wasn't paying attention when they told him the old getting a camel through the eye of a needle fable. Sadly, lots of gullible people out there topping up the Vatican coffers. In fairness, I suppose, the Pope still draws a great crowd, although, should be said, mental health admissions escalate when people catch sight of the popemobile.


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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by guest. on 12.02.13 10:37

Christobell each child has their own totally understandable reasons for not speaking out and up until recent times I would think that it wouldn't seem possible to speak out especially against the church as it just wasn't done.

Authority figures were believed (that includes parents)and children not and that was something that children instinctively knew.

A lot of the older generation of now still think of priests, doctors, teachers etc as some sort of higher being who can do no wrong, it's ingrained in them.

I would imagine if the abuse is by a parent speaking out would be just as complicated as they are emotionally attached and every child wants their parents to love them.

That's why what you are doing by fighting for justice is such a marvellous thing as hopefully the more it's bought out into the open and the abusers are dealt with it will hopefully help some children now as it will give them hope they will be believed. I know it won't be that simple as some children are psychologically brow beaten and also some children maybe think its normal because they don't know any different but even If it helps 1 child it is still 1 child saved.

Adults who were in that situation who haven't had help to deal with the past will maybe feel that they are not alone as being abused can be a very isolating emotion to carry.

There's too many corrupt institutions in this country who think they are above the law and that needs changing.



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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Daisy on 12.02.13 19:00

@PeterMac wrote:The logical result of the English legal system which uses an Adversarial system to determine justice, against all the Roman law base systems which are Inquisitorial, always strikes the actual people who take part in what is in fact a "drama", as unfair.
I have watched trials in Germany, and have taken part in many in England.
I was once asked by a barrister during a recess in a case I was sitting in on, with a State Prosecutor and a Senior Detective from Bavaria (we were doing Rogatories for a murder in a little town in the South) which system I preferred.
My reply was simple.
If I was guilty I would prefer the English system
If innocent, the German / Continental system.

It is no part of English law to discover what happened. It is not interesting to find the facts.
What matters is whether the State, the Prosecution, can prove you guilty.
It is also not interesting whether you actually did it or not.
The court is not interested in 'factual guilt.' Only in 'legal guilt'.

It is supposed to be a good system, but it leads to some dreadful results.
People are locked up, or in previous times went to the gallows, even though they could never have possibly committed the crime of which they were found Guilty.
But their protestations of innocence and their attempts at appeals are futile, because the proper procedures were gone through and 12 people, each of them too stupid to avoid Jury service, found them guilty.

(I used to enjoy cross examination at the hands of a good Junior or sometimes a Silk. But only because I could beat them at their own game.
Sadly they got to know me, and stopped trying.)

That is some fascinating information, thank you.

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” 

Friedrich Nietzsche

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Guest on 12.02.13 19:15

@Daisy wrote:
@PeterMac wrote:The logical result of the English legal system which uses an Adversarial system to determine justice, against all the Roman law base systems which are Inquisitorial, always strikes the actual people who take part in what is in fact a "drama", as unfair.
I have watched trials in Germany, and have taken part in many in England.
I was once asked by a barrister during a recess in a case I was sitting in on, with a State Prosecutor and a Senior Detective from Bavaria (we were doing Rogatories for a murder in a little town in the South) which system I preferred.
My reply was simple.
If I was guilty I would prefer the English system
If innocent, the German / Continental system.

It is no part of English law to discover what happened. It is not interesting to find the facts.
What matters is whether the State, the Prosecution, can prove you guilty.
It is also not interesting whether you actually did it or not.
The court is not interested in 'factual guilt.' Only in 'legal guilt'.

It is supposed to be a good system, but it leads to some dreadful results.
People are locked up, or in previous times went to the gallows, even though they could never have possibly committed the crime of which they were found Guilty.
But their protestations of innocence and their attempts at appeals are futile, because the proper procedures were gone through and 12 people, each of them too stupid to avoid Jury service, found them guilty.

(I used to enjoy cross examination at the hands of a good Junior or sometimes a Silk. But only because I could beat them at their own game.
Sadly they got to know me, and stopped trying.)

That is some fascinating information, thank you.

Hello Daisy,

What is your take on the minutes of the McCann vs Bennett hearing as reproduced in some detail on the "Stop the Myths' blog?

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Daisy on 12.02.13 19:35

@Portia wrote:
@Daisy wrote:
@PeterMac wrote:The logical result of the English legal system which uses an Adversarial system to determine justice, against all the Roman law base systems which are Inquisitorial, always strikes the actual people who take part in what is in fact a "drama", as unfair.
I have watched trials in Germany, and have taken part in many in England.
I was once asked by a barrister during a recess in a case I was sitting in on, with a State Prosecutor and a Senior Detective from Bavaria (we were doing Rogatories for a murder in a little town in the South) which system I preferred.
My reply was simple.
If I was guilty I would prefer the English system
If innocent, the German / Continental system.

It is no part of English law to discover what happened. It is not interesting to find the facts.
What matters is whether the State, the Prosecution, can prove you guilty.
It is also not interesting whether you actually did it or not.
The court is not interested in 'factual guilt.' Only in 'legal guilt'.

It is supposed to be a good system, but it leads to some dreadful results.
People are locked up, or in previous times went to the gallows, even though they could never have possibly committed the crime of which they were found Guilty.
But their protestations of innocence and their attempts at appeals are futile, because the proper procedures were gone through and 12 people, each of them too stupid to avoid Jury service, found them guilty.

(I used to enjoy cross examination at the hands of a good Junior or sometimes a Silk. But only because I could beat them at their own game.
Sadly they got to know me, and stopped trying.)

That is some fascinating information, thank you.

Hello Daisy,

What is your take on the minutes of the McCann vs Bennett hearing as reproduced in some detail on the "Stop the Myths' blog?

Wow Portia, you're very direct, I admire that. To answer your question: I have read all sides of the case (available to me right now) and still very much come out in favour of Mr Bennett. For more reasons than one.

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” 

Friedrich Nietzsche

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Re: Surviving the Witness Box

Post by Spaniel on 12.02.13 19:41

@Bob Southgate wrote:The good old Catholic Church. You should look at the corruption which is their marriage annulment process to give an insight as to how sordid the organisation is. My wife had divorced her first husband before we met and had been married for 11 years. Her ex wanted to re-marry, having found a lady who was a Catholic and unmarried, but as divorce is not recognised it would not be possible to remarry in a Catholic church unless he was able to get his first marriage annulled.

A tall order after an 11 year marriage? Not a bit of it. He was interviewed, my wife was interviewed (she chose to go, she didn't have to aprticipate) and she was very frank about his gambling problems and how she had to keep bailing him out. On the basis of his gambling issues they decided that he wasn't mature or responsible enough to have got married at the age of 23 and didn't really know what he was doing and granted the annulment.

I guess it didn't occur to them that the same issues could be there, but then what would I know. I wonder how much he had to pay them for this service?
One thing I do know and that is the Catholic church is an organisation that is corrupt and rotten to the core, in my humble opinion, which is based on what I saw during the annulment process. It was reinforced on hearing that the wife of Irish singer Daniel O'Donnell, who had been married before and had children from that marriage, was also able to get an annulment of her first marriage.
In around 1988, I was leant on very heavily by my Priest to annul my first marriage. Told him no, absolutely not.

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