I'll take £5,000 in petty cash, please

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The Independent Online

A most extraordinary law case is going on in London at the moment, in which a man accused of bank robbery says that, even if he did it, it wasn't for the money. His defence is that... but perhaps it might make more sense if I bring you an extract from the trial itself. We come in at the very moment when the accused man, Mr Lenny Fairfinger, takes the stand.

Counsel: Your name is Fairfinger?

Defendant: It is.

Counsel: That is a most unusual name.

Defendant: Yes. It is in fact a misprint for Firfinger.

Counsel: That is also a most unusual name.

Defendant: Not in the south-east corner of Saxony, in Germany, where my ancestors came from.

Counsel: They may have been better off staying there, Mr Firfinger.

Defendant: And what do you mean by that, may I ask?

Counsel: You may not ask. In this court, I am allowed to ask questions, but you are only allowed to give answers.

Defendant: Was that a question?

Counsel: No.

Defendant: Then let me know when one comes along, so we can do business.

Judge: Mr Tarlton, Mr Tarlton!

Counsel: Yes, my Lord?

Judge: I take it there is some point behind this exchange of inanities between you and the defendant?

Counsel: Yes, my Lord. I am trying to browbeat him with a display of insouciant bullying, and he, in return, is attempting to keep his courage up with some Cockney badinage.

Judge: And who is winning?

Counsel: Early days yet, my Lord. Fifteen-all in the first game, I would say.

Judge: Righty ho. Let me know when someone gets the upper hand.

Counsel: Thank you, my Lord. Now, Mr Firfinger...

Defendant: Fairfinger.

Judge: Thirty-fifteen against you, Mr Tarlton!

Counsel: Yes, my Lord. Now, Mr Fairfinger, the charge against you is that you did take part in a bank robbery last July, in Wembley. It is alleged that you...

Defendant: I admit it.

Counsel: Pardon?

Defendant: I admit it. But it wasn't for the money. So I am not guilty.

Counsel: If it were not for the money, what was it for?

Defendant: It was to get in the Guinness Book of Records.

Counsel: You... ask... the... court to believe... that... you...

Defendant: Yes.

Counsel: But criminals cannot get in the Guinness Book of Records by committing a crime!

Defendant: Course they can. There's lots in there. Biggest train robbery. Biggest jewel robbery. Most murders. Crippen, Christie, Ruth Ellis, etc etc.

Counsel: And how did you hope to join that august body?

Defendant: I wanted to become the bank robber to have taken the largest amount of small change in history. That is why, when I raided the bank in Wembley, I specifically asked for the money to be handed over in 1p and 2p coins. That was deliberate! See, I could have cleaned them out! I could have taken millions in notes! Instead, I was content with £5,000 worth of copper. Not a note did I take!

Counsel: And what makes you think that that would have got you into the Guinness Book of Records ?

Defendant: I know it would have! And I have proof of it! I have here a letter from the editor of the Guinness Book of Records, saying that if I do the robbery, I can get in the book as a record-holder! If anyone is guilty of this crime, it is not me - it is the editor of the Guinness Book of Records!

Sensation in court.

More of this tomorrow, when I think we shall see the editor of the Guinness Book of Records take the stand.