The barrister was uncertain.
‘I thought I was ready to proceed, judge, but apparently my solicitor has been informed that he is to go off record, I am awaiting clarification,’ he said.
‘Is the client here?’
‘I’ll do my own appeal.’
The judge turned to the speaker. Young, much too thin, one of several men cuffed to the boored prison wardens. The young man glanced down again at the several pages of handwritten foolscap notes which he leafed through, eager to begin.
‘That may be a very unwise decision. But it is yours to make,’ said the judge.
On the reporters benches, we put down out pens, waiting to see what would happen. I felt like a ghoul, watching, helpless to stop this young fool from self-destruction.
‘Please judge, I’m his mother,’ cried a voice from the crowd.
That’s new. Never had that before. Usually they’ve cut themselves off from family and friends by this point.
‘Ian, listen to what the judge is saying,’ she cried. ‘The judge –’
But Ian wasn’t listening. Not to the judge, and not to the cries from his family. He was waiting for the judge to finish speaking, so that he could begin.
The defence barrister stood up. ‘I’m not sure if you’re aware, judge. As my learned friend has just this moment gone off record, I do not know for certain if Mr Neill has seen my submissions yet.’
The judge grabbed the lifeline. It was a long shot, he knew, but who could tell? Maybe his mother could talk sense into him before the courts resumed.
‘I’ll adjourn then, to allow him to review your arguments and consider his position.’