Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Strangers' Britain

Keep jurors under wraps!

Jurors should wear gowns and hoods to hide their ordinary clothes, according to the Solicitors Journal. This would stop defence lawyers challenging people off juries because they didn't like the way they dressed. Hoods would also help to disguise their ages. A defendant is allowed to challenge three jurors in a criminal trial. If there are several in the dock, their barristers. can virtually handpick a jury on appearances alone.

Woman lay dead for a year

A woman lay dead in her flat for more than a year while the Department of Health and Social Security continued to pay her rent.

The skeletal remains of Miss Georgina Smith, aged 78, were found when gas officials broke into her flat in Vincent Road, Westminster, on October 21 to cut off the supply because of unpaid bills.

PC Harry Brown, the coroner's officer, said that Miss Smith, a retired housemaid, was found dead on the living room floor.

The woman's niece, Mrs Margaret Fisher, of Queens Park, Bedford, said: "She was a very private lady and liked to keep herself to herself. As far as social services are concerned she would not have anything to do with them. She would have looked upon that as charity."

The cause of Death was said to be unascertainable and Dr Paul Knapman, the Westminster coroner, recorded an open verdict.

Cash nicked from the nick

Embarrassed detectives are investigating the theft of £1,000 from a police station safe. The money, in notes, was left for safe keeping at Harlow police station in Essex.

Detectives are now quizzing all the police employed at the town station. Deputy chief constable Ron Stone said: "We have no indication as to how the package was lost."

Force cops a farce

A newspaper, reporting a wedding, stated: "The bride's father, Mr George Smith, is a defective in the police force."

Following a furious telephone call from Mr Smith, the newspaper corrected its mistake in the next edition;

"Due to a typographical error, we described Mr George Smith as a defective in the police force. This should have read "a detective in the police farce."

Mother criticised over girl's drink death

A coroner has condemned as irresponsible a mother who was present when her daughter drank herself to death during a drinking contest between Scots and Welsh guests at a party.

Elizabeth Woods, aged 16, drank the equivalent of a bottle and a half of vodka before she died of acute alcohol poisoning at a party in Caldicot, Gwent, in August.

Before taking part in the contest, the girl had been on a day-long pub crawl with her mother and Welsh rugby fans they had met in Scotland.

The girl, who lived with her mother, Mrs Mary Woods, at Northfield, Tranent, near Edinburgh, was found to have a blood alcohol level of 430 mg per 100ml of blood; more than five times the limit for driving a car.

Mr David Brown, the Gwent coroner, recorded a verdict of misadventure. He said: "This is a completely unnecessary loss of this young girl's life" and added; "It has been claimed by her mother that she did not know here daughter was drinking alcohol. I do not accept that to be the case and even if it was she should have known."

Deaf Mute detained on £5 charge

A deaf and dumb man spent a second night in prison facing the prospect of indefinite detention after he allegedly stole a £5 note and three light bulbs.

Mr Glenn Pearson, aged 33, who has only a limited ability to understand sign language, and who has mostly been brought up by his parents, was ordered to be held in a secure hospital after a jury at Lincoln Crown Court decided that he was unfit to plead to a charge of burglary.

The court was told Mr Pearson had not been successfully taught sign language, was illiterate, had a low IQ and had only a 20 per cent chance of understanding the charge.

After the jury decided Mr Pearson was not fit to plead, judge Wilcox ordered that he should be detained under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964, Mr Pearson was taken to Lincoln Prison as a place was not immediately available for him in a secure hospital. "Strenuous" attempts were being made to find him a hospital place. His case may be reviewed by a tribunal after six months.

Get me to the match on time

Bridegroom Derek Junes blurted out a few words of thanks at his wedding reception and quickly swapped his suit for a soccer kit. With his best man and several other guests he dashed off to play in a soccer match. After helping his team draw 2-2 Derek rushed back to the reception, where his bride Mary was waiting. To make sure he got to the kick-off on time Derek had even ordered the other guests to make quick speeches.

Soccer mad midfield man Derek explained: "It was my first game for Llanrwst United in the Welsh league.

"All the family seemed dead against me playing, including Mary. It took me a few hours sweet-talk to change her mind."

Factory worker Derek, 24, added: "She's a super girl. She knew just how much it meant to me to play. She'll make a perfect wife."

Britain hit by Rape Shocker

Rapes in Britain soared by a horrifying 27 per cent in the first six months of the year, according to the police figures.

But the Home Office said this was because more women were now willing to describe their ordeal.

"It has been our policy for some time to encourage women who have been attacked to come forward," said a spokesman.

The latest figures show there were 780 rapes reported in the first six months of 1985.

This compares with 613 in the same time last year, and 591 in 1983.

In Devon alone, the number of rapes reported was up 71 per cent from 14 to 24.

In the West Midlands, attacks rose from 83 to 99, in Manchester from 50 to 61, and in Thames Valley from 45 to 59.

talking drums 1985-12-02 The spy swap Sousoudis for 8 Ghanaians and families