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How Much Does It Cost to Save a Life? Pt 4

The author is a QUB Pol Sci Honours graduate and has written extensively on imperialism, national liberation struggles and class issues.

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As soon as Ryan was released on Bail from Musgrave Street Holding Centre, he went straight to the hospital to visit Gavin. Ryan was relieved to discover that his friend, was out of Intensive Care and able to move about the ward with a mobile drip. He had major stitching on two parts of his throat and his forearm. Gavin also had a dressing to a stab wound to his abdomen and minor defensive wounds to his hands. Gavin was no heavyweight by any means but a couple of days being drip-fed had left him looking almost emaciated. By any standards, he was a sorry looking sight to behold. The medical staff had hinted, that Gavin had a very close shave with death, as Ryan told them that it had been him who'd disarmed the knife-man and fought off the attackers.

At that time, Gavin's family had arrived and Ryan got the distinct impression that he was being blamed for the incident. He assumed this was obviously based on the fact that he had been arrested and they were basing their opinion of events, on the notion, that there is no smoke without fire. Ryan was loathed to mention, in front of Gavin's parents, that even though he had been seriously injured, that it was their son who had initiated the events of the previous nights' vicious attack.

Apart from the type of fairly banal small talk, that one can find oneself indulging in, during a hospital visit, with a friend's family present, it was agreed that Ryan would return home to shed the police issue boiler suit, have a shower and get some well-needed rest, as he hadn't slept a wink in two days.

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Prior to answering Bail in a few days time, Ryan called round with Majella to see how the cops had treated her and how she was fairing after such a traumatic incident. Needless to say, it had been quite an ordeal for her, as it was for everyone involved. Unfortunately, Majella had some very disturbing disclosures to make regarding the case, the direction the RUC/PSNI seemed intent on steering the case and directing the narrative, despite the fact, that the assailants had made full admissions in relation to the attack on Gavin and the possession of the weapon used.

Majella was then able to disclose, confidentially, to Ryan that the police had heavily pressured her to agree that it was Ryan who initiated the attack. To this day and as far as Ryan knows, Majella did not agree to cooperate with the cops' theory, given the fact, that she had witnessed exactly what had occurred that night, including the fact, that it was Gavin who had initiated the altercation, with the duo, obviously in the hope that Ryan would weigh in to back him up, as he had done previously in the past to save Gavin. Majella informed Ryan, that when she had visited Gavin in hospital, he made it clear that he intended to claim 'amnesia' regarding the events of the evening in question, even if it meant Ryan would be facing Section 18 GBH charges which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

It has now become clearly apparent to all involved in the case, that Gavin's reasoning for not telling the truth was, primarily, for two reasons. Firstly, Gavin in monetary terms stood to gain a substantial Criminal Injuries Claim, as a result of the attack and the extent of his injuries. Secondly, however unlikely it would have been, Gavin wanted to protect himself from any criminal charges, however minor they would have been, emerging from the fact, that it was he who initiated the initial altercation. Gavin's solicitor would have explained to him that the likelihood of him facing any criminal charges, at all, for "shouldering" or "mouthing off" at two complete strangers, who critically injured him, would have been highly unlikely to be pursued by the Public Prosecution Service in the first place. Instead of adopting an "amnesia approach", Gavin, if he had just told anything resembling the truth, would have gone a long way to helping Ryan's case. Ryan was, after all, not only his supposed friend but the man who had saved his life. Ryan remained loyal to Gavin and hade made no mention of Gavin initiating a minor altercation during three lengthy interrogations, even though that would have very possibly mitigated his own case.

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From Ryan's perspective, as soon as he re-appeared at Musgrave Serious Crime fort with his lawyer to answer Bail, the North of Ireland's well known 'conveyor belt' of justice cranked into action. In short:

  • Ryan on the advice of his lawyer made clear he would be only giving 'no comment' answers to any possible attempts at further interrogations;
  • Expectedly, Ryan was formally charged with two counts of Section 18 Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent to Endanger Life
  • He was placed in a Police cell until the next day he appeared at Belfast Magistrates Courts. He'd brought some reading to help pass the night which included Michael Parenti's The Sword and The Dollar, a couple of copies of Fortnight Magazine.
  • After a longish wait until morning, the uniformed police transferred Ryan hand-cuffed in an armored car to the cells under Belfast Magistrates Courts.
  • As his lawyer had explained, Magistrates Courts.would be 'low' on justice but 'high' in foregone conclusions, which amounted to:
  1. No Bail. In fact, it was impossible to apply for it, at that stage
  2. Ryan was remanded in custody for two weeks to Crumlin Road Gaol
  3. Left in the cells under the court, until the end of day's judicial proceedings ended, eventually, Ryan and other gallows birds sailed off in an Armada of cellular trucks bound for Crumlin Road Gaol
  4. The Crumlin Road Gaol was a particular filthy place of detention. Constructed in Victorian times to Utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon model, one would be forgiven for thinking that any efforts at cleaning the place may have ceased around the same period.


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Thankfully before leaving Belfast Magistrate Court for the Crumlin Road Gaol on late Friday afternoon. Ryan's lawyer had confirmed that his High Court application for Bail would be heard on Monday morning, leaving the prisoner in question with a mind full of anxiety and a full weekend of cellular living to ponder it all.

Ryan's solicitor had been taken aside by one of the prosecuting detectives and told that irrespective of Ryan's misplaced loyalty, they were of the opinion that Gavin had, in their words, bitten off more than he could chew. This indicated strongly that this had been the narrative of the two assailants. Much more was yet to be revealed in the penultimate part of this account, with perhaps only the instructed solicitor and the defendant himself proving themselves to be honest men.

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© 2019 Liam A Ryan

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