Forgiving Justice

"...So it came a bit of a shock to me when I saw what was happening between Bella and Theo. No one would have guessed that anything like that could happen to us: the happy go lucky Balmers and Kensits living in the big house on the corner. But that’s the funny thing about life.
You never know what’s coming next."

Fifteen year old Natalie Balmer/Kensit has never really felt like she belongs. Throughout her childhood she was continually bounced from one home to another- whilst keeping a terrible secret that her older sister Bella was being brutally abused.
Now, living in care, seperated from her family and in a steady relationship with boyfriend Jasper, Natalie is shocked to find her past being dragged out in front of her.

Theo is back. And his story's in court.

Natalie, as the only witness to Bella and Theo's injustice, is now compelled to make a life changing decision- Keep her families together?

Or serve Bella justice and send her sister to prison?

Coming soon!




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12. Stupid, Irrelevant, Thoughtless Questions.

“All rise.”

 

I obeyed, and watched as the elderly wig-clad man made his way to the dock. I snuck a glimpse towards Bella. Despite her obvious mental health, and the coughing fit that knocked her completely breathless, she was standing surprisingly calmly; her head held high and her stick thin arms hanging loosely at her side.

 

I then looked at Theo, and noticed him smirking. Knowing his character, the type of human he was, it was probably to do with the fact that everyone else had to stand in respect for this imperceptive upholder of the law and he didn’t.

 

The judge, labelled at the front of his desk as Judge Harris, turned his head down slightly, as an invitation for us to sit. There was a sudden bustling: of papers being rustled, and bottoms being plonked on seats, and the general resonance of a crowd of people sick with apprehension.

After what seemed like a lifetime, Judge Harris cleared his throat, and settled himself into his rigid throne. He looked down his long nose through his half moon spectacles at my sister. Despite his occupation, and what he could theoretically do to Bella with his supreme power, he looked sort of compassionate. Kind of what a grandparent may look like, kind, wrinkled, wise; the sort of man you would find walking his dogs in the park, smiling with creased eyes at every stranger.

 

“Isabella Balmer,” the court legal adviser began, “You are currently charged with the conviction of grievous bodily harm, this having occurred on the night of the 18th of October 2010, when you allegedly pushed your stepbrother Theodore Kensit down three flights of stairs, therefore causing him to lose the use of both his legs. Do you understand the charge being held against you?”

 

It looked like Bella had rehearsed for months the words that came out from her mouth now. “Yes, I do understand.” She spoke each word properly, annunciating each syllable, probably so as to come across as standard and educated, like she knew what she was doing. Her lawyer nodded with closed eyes, placing his hand on Bella’s for a split second to encourage her.

 

The legal adviser was still talking. “And to this conviction, do you plead guilty or not guilty?”

 

Bella closed her eyes for a moment. I waited with baited breath, wondering if Theo could hear the hurried pace of my heart, for he turned his head and flashed me a pearly smile.

“Not guilty.”

 

The whole court suddenly erupted into a jumble of emotions. Theo turned, outraged, on his lawyer. I could just about make out what they were saying.

“You promised me she would plead guilty!” He was furiously whispering. His lawyer was looking as bewildered as Theo. She swallowed nervously.

 

“Um... Well, yes, Mr. Kensit,” she was murmuring timidly, “I can’t see how she can plead not guilty, I mean...” she gestured to Theo’s wheelchair, but quickly removed her hand. He was looking at her with a stare so petrifying, she shrunk back into her papers.

 

Jasper was looking at me with a ‘you know what, this might not be as horrendous after all’, look all over his face, and Jamie was busy telling everyone that it was ‘impossible’ for us to lose the case now. I almost believed them, but then again this was Bella, and disaster seemed to follow her at every turn.

For the first time since the judge arrived, I took a proper look towards Bella. I’d have thought that she would have been happier, having her family cheering her loyally and her expensive looking lawyer intelligently scribbling notes into his book; but she just sat there, slumped in the box, half of her obviously not quite with the rest of the world. Not even the return of Judge Harris’ authoritative voice changed her position.

 

“Prosecution, please state your case against the defendant.”

 

Theo stared coldly at his lawyer as she tidied her papers into a pile, and stood up, twitching all the while.

 

“Your honour,” she began, “I would first like to point out the fact that any past events that occurred before the night of the 18th of October are in this case, irrelevant.”

At this Bella’s lawyer exploded with ferocity. “Irrelevant?”

Judge Harris banged his mallet on the desk quickly, “Order in the court, if you please Mr. Bowles.”

 

Theo’s lawyer continued, visibly more confident now, “All that I am saying, your honour, is that the case we are trying here is the fact that Isabella Balmer pushed my client down the stairs, and any past events boiled with sibling enmity are therefore extraneous.

 

The Judge looked hard at the lawyer, and then to Theo, whose head was held high in an air of arrogance and satisfaction. “Do you have anything to add, Mr. Kensit?”

 

Theo nodded once, and turned to survey the crowd. “Yes, your honour, I do,” he said smoothly. “ I would first like to point out that my family are cowards!” He shouted the last word, pointing an indignant finger at Lottie and Crystal, who shrunk back in their seats with pained expressions on their faces.

“Sticking up for that,” he turned his pointed finger towards Bella now, who whimpered, “When you are not involved with them. You two are Kensits, not Balmers, and you are quite happy to let your brother fight this injustice on his own.”

 

I looked at the judge to intervene, but he seemed intent on hearing what this irate young man had to say. Theo continued.

 

“I would also like to say that I have never considered the Balmers my family, and I never will. They were just a mistake that my Father made, an interference that knocked my family the wrong way, and I will never forgive them for that.” Theo turned back again, to face me.

“Most people would blame Bella for what happened to me,” he hissed, “but I disagree. Of course, there have been some tales that I was suffering from a mental illness, but I strongly object to that, and I only blame one person for this string of events.” The whole family looked at each other, an exact reproduction of the Last Supper, when the disciples were told that one of them was the guilty one, the one that would send their leader to die.

 

“Natalie.”

 

Silence.

 

Then outrage.

 

“Order! Order!” The judge thumped the mallet furiously, reducing us to calm. Theo, appearing entirely contented at the chaos he had produced, returned to his box, beaming at his intimidated lawyer.

 

Bella’s lawyer, Mr. Bowles, then took a stand. I noticed Jamie’s expression of indignant half defeat turn into one of silent hope. Bella turned her pallid face towards her only hope.

 

“Your honour,” he began, “we wish to abandon court on the grounds of my clients mental health state at present and at the time of the incident.”

 

Judge Harris surveyed Bella harshly, but with still a manner of sensitivity. “And please, Mr. Bowles, what is this mental health state that you mention?”

Mr Bowles shuffled his papers. “Well... We are still waiting to hear back from some of the specialists we were talking to, but...”

 

“So you don’t even know your client’s own mental history?” Mocked Theo’s client.

 

I watched as my family’s shoulders slumped in hopelessness.

 

Judge Harris sighed, too. “Have you anything to add, Ms. Balmer?”

 

Bella stood up. She seemed prepared to make a huge speech, to tell the truth of what happened to her, to set right Theo’s incessant lies, but her breath seemed restricted.

 

“No, your honour,” she whispered miserably.

 

                    *       *        *

After a while I stopped listening for my name to be called. There were some imperative formalities to be taken care of, and Bella’s few medical papers had to be assessed, so when at last Judge Harris asked, “Could Natalie Balmer please come to the witness box?” I had to be prodded by a security officer before I stood up.

 

My stomach churned uncomfortably as I made my way to the box. I could feel dozens of pairs of eyes burning into the back of my head, but I couldn’t bring myself to turn around and confront them.

Judge Harris smiled at me receptively as I sat down and twisted my hands in my lap.

“Natalie, please could you read out loud the piece of card on the desk in front of you, as your declaration of telling the truth in court today.

 

My voice wavered slightly over the words, and I pleaded to whoever was up there to not let the tears escape my eyes. “I promise before Almighty God that the evidence which I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

 

“And do you understand what is being asked of you today?”

“Yes, your honour.”

 

He began with some easy questions, probably just to make me feel a little less uncomfortable, a little less like what I was feeling right now.

 

“So, Natalie, could you please tell the court your age.”

I swallowed. “I’m fifteen.”

“Fifteen,” the judge repeated, raising his eyebrows briefly. I could swear on the fact that he then muttered, “so young” under his breath, but I wasn’t entirely sure.

 

“And Natalie, could you tell the court where you live, presently.”

“At Sunningdale Care Home.”

The judge checked his papers quickly. “Yes, that’s right, and could you remind me when social services took over?”

 

I must have looked confused, for Judge Harris rephrased gently, “When you were moved from your family home.”

“Um...” Jamie stared wide-eyed at me. ‘What are you doing?’ he mouthed desperately. Ok, ok, I told myself, no need to panic. Just breathe, and answer the nice man’s question.

Judge Harris was waiting patiently for my response.

“Well, I was nine so... about six years ago.”

“And could you tell me why that was?”

“Mum couldn’t handle my screaming,” I explained matter of factly, “Neither could the twins,” I added, taking a glimpse at Mattie and Elliot fondly. “So Mum called my care worker and I was put into care, but she swore that she could handle Mattie and Elliot.”

 

Bella’s lawyer stood up. “Excuse me, your honour,” he began. Judge Harris waved his hand as an invitation for him to speak. “The witness failed to point out the fact that at this point Mrs. Balmer was suffering from depression, so she really was in no fit state to look after Matthew and Elliot anyway.”

 

He sat down again, peering at Bella considerately. I watched him as he made some notes in a leather bound notebook. Judge Harris leant forward in his chair. “So tell me, Natalie, why did your Mother want to keep your brothers at home with her, even though her mental state was deteriorating and it would have probably been easier on her if she gave them up, too?”

“Child benefits,” I answered simply.

 

                  *       *        *

After about fifteen minutes of stupid, irrelevant, thoughtless questions the judge told me that I could go back to my seat. Jasper was smiling at me amorously. “Well done,” he mouthed. I breathed a he sigh of relief. The pressure in my seat at the front of the room was nothing compared to the feeling of being in the witness box, a hundred pairs of eyes on you, the judge’s ears on red alert, waiting for you to say the wrong thing. I suppose that the whole thing hadn’t gone too badly, it was just hard to remember that in a month’s time I’d have to go through it all again, just with a bigger audience, double the pressure, and a bigger stage.

 

The sudden hush and shuffling of papers told me that Judge Harris had come to a decision. I looked behind me at my family. Everyone had seemed to have got over the initial shock of what was going to change the course of each and every one of our lives, but even so each member was leaning far over their seats; you could almost taste the sour uneasiness that hung over them, and me, like a raincloud. Bella now appeared physically sick, and had now shrunk back in her seat so far that it appeared she only had half a body. This was the exact opposite of Theo, who was seated confidently with an expression on his face that radiated nothing but condescension.

 

Judge Harris cleared his throat.

 

“So we are here today because two young adults have both, in my mind, grossly perverted the court of justice. This recount is more than mindless childlike taunting, as a certain lawyer described, this case is about two people trying to outdo the other when they are both frankly, to blame. Isabella escaped from the conviction at the time of the incident as, incidentally, she was only eleven years old at the time. Isabella is the one being charged here, but in my mind she is not the only one having caused heinous damage to another person. As the court is well aware, Theodore tormented Isabella ever since she was nine years old, which begs the question, was she honestly just acting out of immoral certainty, or just plain self-defense? In accordance to the fact that there were no witnesses as discovered at the scene, we have no idea as of yet what actually happened that fatal night. But I will tell you this: once all of this has concluded, justice will be served.

 

Therefore, due to lack of sufficient evidence, unbalanced statements and inadequate knowledge of the defendant’s medical history, I declare that this case must go to crown court for complete enquiry.”

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