Don't forget to let the burglar out, dear

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The Independent Online

A most unusual trial is going on in the High Court at the moment, where a Mr and Mrs Cartwright are accused of kidnapping, false imprisonment and unlawful detention, even though they clearly had no idea they had ever committed such crimes. Seems unlikely? Well, I think this startling extract from the trial may persuade you otherwise.

A most unusual trial is going on in the High Court at the moment, where a Mr and Mrs Cartwright are accused of kidnapping, false imprisonment and unlawful detention, even though they clearly had no idea they had ever committed such crimes. Seems unlikely? Well, I think this startling extract from the trial may persuade you otherwise.

We join the case just where Mr Cartwright has taken the witness stand.

Counsel: Your name is Roland Cartwright?

Cartwright: It is, and I do live at No 34 Cambridge Gardens, where I have resided for over 14 years with my wife Ada, and several children who are now all grown up and have moved on, thank goodness.

Counsel: (sarcastically ) Thank you for saving me several minutes of routine cross-examination.

Cartwright: You are welcome.

Counsel: Now, let us go to the events of the night of last 17 January. You and your wife Ada were planning to have dinner in town, were you not?

Cartwright: And so we did.

Counsel: And so you did. But before going to town for dinner, what did you do?

Cartwright: We popped over to our friends the Quigleys for a drink.

Counsel: You popped over to your friends the Quigleys for a drink. Then what did you do?

Cartwright: We came back to our house, locked up and went into town.

Counsel: You came back to your house, locked up and went into town.

Cartwright: Why do you keep repeating everything I say?

Counsel: Why do I keep repeating everything you say?

Cartwright: Yes.

Counsel: Because I have lost my place in my notes and I am playing for time.

Cartwright: You have lost your place in your notes and you are playing for time?

Judge: My God, he's at it now! Will the two of you please give up this sub-Pinteresque dialogue and cut to the chase!

Counsel: Cut to the chase, my Lord?

Judge: (restraining himself with an effort) Yes.

Counsel: Certainly, m'Lud. Now, Mr Cartwright, how long were you out of your house?

Cartwright: In town?

Counsel: No. Over at the Quigleys.

Cartwright: About half an hour.

Counsel: Were you aware that during your absence, your house had been entered by a Mr Fred Winter?

Cartwright: The burglar, you mean?

Counsel: Whether or not he was a burglar is something we can establish later. Simply answer the question: were you aware that your house had been entered?

Cartwright: Not then, no.

Counsel: You had no idea there was anyone in the house apart from you and your wife?

Cartwright: My wife was not in the house.

Counsel: Where was she?

Cartwright: Outside, waiting in the car for us to go to town.

Counsel: So you then locked up the house? How thoroughly did you do this?

Cartwright: Very thoroughly. There have been a lot of burglaries in our area recently. All the windows are locked, all the doors double locked. Nobody could get in.

Counsel: Or out?

Cartwright: Well, I got out. But then I double-locked the front door.

Counsel: Not realising that you had locked Fred Winter inside?

Cartwright: Absolutely not.

Counsel: So you then went to town, and returned five hours later. What did you find when you returned?

Cartwright: I found Mr Fred Winter, in our kitchen, crying and moaning and in a bit of a state.

Counsel: Why was he in such a state?

Cartwright: Because he had consumed more than half a bottle of my whisky.

Counsel: Was it because of that? Or was it because you had condemned this poor unfortunate man to five hours of the most hideous mental torture? Was it because you had subjected Fred Winter to a living death?

Cartwright: I hadn't done anything of the sort. I had just gone to town for dinner.

More of this trend-setting trial tomorrow!

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