The court date had arrived, I arrived with D at the train station. As I arrived at the London station the familiar sound of the mans voice on the loudspeaker was present. . MIND THE GAP!, MIND THE GAP!. I ignored it this time but the words would ring in my ears. We came out the station and turned right, then we walked straight to the building. When I arrived I was shocked to see where the Royal Courts of Justice was. I knew if we got it wrong here, I would lose my children forever. I was scared to say the least;. worse Jill hadn’t arrived, she said she would be outside. By now I was suffering from anxiety, although not on medication I could always predict when one was coming. My stomach was turning over, just at the present of the building. We stepped inside and my chest felt tight. The building was exactly as it was above.(picture).
I recall the floor was shining, I looked up to the ceiling at the magnificent decoration, and then thought to myself. “I wonder how many mothers had passed through these doors. My heart was fluttering and my chest was tight, it was over four years that we had a preliminary hearing.
I wandered about the judge, what she/he looked like?, if he/she would be a compassionate judge?, I was disturbed from my thoughts, when the security guard approached me and D and told us to step aside so they could search our bags. “Nothing in here,” I said. But he searched it anyway, he then put it through the cameras. We were then told to go through the metal detectors, before our bags were given back to us. I started to imagine “angry mothers fighting for their children” hence the tight security. I sighed….
I arrived in the big hall (above picture), mummy was standing with her solicitor on left side, my girls were not present. D and I walked over to the right side. Jill still had not yet arrived, she was not late as we had arrived early. But the thought, that she was not present filled me with dread. I kept watching the clock, my heart was beating to the movements of the clock. I was scared. “Suppose Jill didn’t show? I thought.
I was scared to look at mummy, I wanted no eye contact with her, I feel this was because of the mental fear that she had instilled in me. After ten minutes of waiting, I saw a figure coming towards me, the person was smiling, I didn’t recognise her or no anyone that could possibly be in the same courts as me. But….
As the figure became closer, I noticed, it was my solicitor Jill.
She looked completely different to when I last saw her she was dressed for court, naturally I expected her to, but she looked different, almost like another person. she walked in with an air of authority then she put on her wig, “why do they wear wigs” I thought.
“Is that your mum,” she said.
Unfortunately yes, I replied.
“The mind boggles… she didn’t finish her sentence, ” but I’m not here to get into that, and you must remain focus, and be cooperative at all times”. She then explained how the case would go. “It’s again a preliminary prior to the next hearing” and “its similar to what you have done before but just a different court. It was also not as formal.
D looked at me and smiled as if to say it was going to be all right, “don’t worry”, he said. My mind was in turmoil, there were many emotions that day. Mummy was present, my girls wasn’t, D was present. I was in a high court fighting for my girls from my own mother. I was with a man that I was unsure about. My girls were missing. I left the younger children with friends. At least D was supporting me, to get my girls, so in a sense things were getting better.
“All parties to the proceedings please step this way,”said the usher. and as I got in to the court room, I felt dizzy. However, I was told I was unable to sit down until the judge had come through the chamber. Following instructions we sat down.
mummy’s solicitor got up first, a tall white man with dark curly hair, he was smart, scary looking, but to me everyone to do with my children were scary. He was also wearing his wig . He then started doing a summary of the case, to explain that I had abandon my children for three months, that mummy never knew where I was, and she had looked after the children solely ever since. I could not believe what I was hearing, here I am six years later, fighting for my children simply because my mummy lied, simply because I was too young to defend myself, simply because solicitor kept leaving and changing office. Simply because I had no one.
I kept nudging Jill to tell her it’s lies, she turned and whispered, I know, I know. “We will get our turn, please be quiet”. I was unimaginably frustrated, I was shaking on the chair, dying to speak, but I knew I would get the opportunity eventually, I could also see the judge was watching me, and I needed to contain myself.
It was then our turn, my solicitor got up and said. “Your honour before I can address my client’s case, I would like to call the welfare officer, whom wrote the first report. Exhibit B. “Do you have a copy your honour? “Yes was his reply,” . He agreed for the welfare officer to attend. She had already arrived, but I hadn’t seen her in the court.
She stood up, a slim, medium height white lady with short-cropped blond hair. She glanced at me. I smirked. I noticed that she didn’t look as confident as when she spoke to me in the past. Mummy was seated to my left, but I didn’t look at her. This was the part I liked best. 🙂
Jill got up and asked her many questions. One of them I specifically recall was… “Looking back at your report, is their anything you could have done differently ? ” My client tells me you saw her for ten minutes at her home? Is that correct?
Foolishly, she replied. “Yes, that is correct, but this was because I had already read the previous report” my solicitor laid into her. “Do you think that is fair on my client? Jill snapped.
“Your honour, it was clearly put that the welfare officer would be getting a detailed welfare report from all parties concerned with the care of the children. In my opinion, I do not believe ten minutes would be sufficient time for any officer to visit a family of three. The views of the youngest child was never mentioned. my clients views were not taken into account. A report was prepared based on the wishes of the grandmother. “Your honour, I render this report bias, and I would ask for her report to be removed or at least for her position to be reviewed. She went on… This is for the sake of other children who need a voice.”( taken from my case notes)
Jill was not playing, I was excited in my chair but I couldn’t show it. D, nudged me in my side and whispered “she is Good”, I smiled. We had a connection in court that day, D and I. After all, he was putting my children’s needs first.
After Jill had finished her speech. The judge turned to the welfare officer and said. We will break for ten minutes for me to review these notes.
On his return the judge after questioning her for a while, he said. ” I can see that no thought went into this welfare report it is very judgmental on the part of the natural mother, this goes against the principalities of the court, I would agree with the defendant learned Friend, that it is indeed biased. This is a waste of the courts time, and the parties involved, the report had some valid points but on the whole. It cannot be submitted in a court of law. I will be recommending that you be removed from your position with immediate effect”. The welfare officer stepped down, obviously distressed. She did not look at me again. I smiled.
The case is dismissed, a full hearing will be held in September, he said.
that was six months time….
more waiting, I thought, as we walked out the court that day.