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Melksham manslaughter case concludes - sort of

After the deadline for the local newspapers this week, the court case against Tom Minshull who was accused of the manslaughter of Adrian Cooksey concluded - with the jury taking 90 minutes (according to the press) to reach a "Not guilty" verdict. Mr Cooksey was found lying in Spa Road in the early hours of 9th March and died later in hospital.

I wasn't in court, but from the reports, and from speaking directly with professionals who were involved with the case on both sides as it went through the system, the case was far from an obvious one. There was extensive local disquiet, and there would have major surprise had a "guilty" verdict been returned. That said, the prosecution must have thought they had a good chance, but I personally don't know how or why.

So - was it the 'right' verdict? Well - yes - but only as far as it can go.

In Scotland, I understand that three verdicts are possible in similar cases - "Guilty" as in England, "Not Proven" which means "He possibly did it, but we can't be sure beyond reasonable doubt" and "Not Guilty" which means "No - he didn't do it".

Tom's defense, which (if it is why the jury reached the decision that it did), was that Adrian was killed by someone else. Tom's connection was merely that he was in the area at the time, and didn't even know what had happened close to where he was, until much later. Which implies that a Scots "Not Guilty" rather than a watered down English one would have been the verdict had the crime taken place in Montrose not Melksham. Yet that is just my speculation, which I understand is now allowed with the case concluded.

Because we don't know for sure what the Scots verdict would have been, we are now left with a most unsatisfactory situation, where each key player is a victim. Adrian Cooksey is dead, and his family grieve. Tom Minshull has been through what must have been the most daunting 8 months, and surely won't be able to walk away as if nothing has happened to him. Yet bearing in mind the "mistaken identity" defense if that is why the jury deliberated as they did, it goes even deeper. It could have been you or me that the police picked up (I often walk along Spa Road). And the person who actually struck the killer blow is still unreprimanded by the law and is probably still in our midst.
(written 2009-11-14)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
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  [1522] Paging Martin Noke, who petitions for more trains from Trowbridge to Swindon - (2008-01-28)
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  [1279] The Gdansk fireball - (2007-07-27)
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  [388] BBQ Season - (2005-07-24)
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