Chapter 6: A Court Visit. Freddy's Life is Threatened

Summer 1991

In the summer of 1991, I had a date in a magistrate's court to try and obtain a diary that the police had failed to return after searching my house when they arrested me in December 1990. The diary was not evidential to the Crown's case against me in the dolphin trial. I had got back most of the stuff, but outstanding was the black pocket diary. Despite requests by my solicitor, Guy Otten, to the police, they wouldn't return the small black diary and so I instigated a prosecution under the police property act. Legal Aid wasn't available, so I had to act as my own solicitor in the case against the police's professional solicitor acting in defence. I questioned my arresting officers. I produced a 1987 green diary, and the officer confirmed he recognised it as one of the items he had taken from my house. I then asked him "what was the year in relation to the alleged offence I was arrested". He replied " 1990". I asked, "then is it highly likely another diary was removed in regard to the date of the allegations". He stuttered a reply, and I said “no further questions”! I felt like Perry Mason the television character who acted in a court drama that I used to watch as a child!

The magistrates adjourned for a short spell for a verdict. When they returned they refused to issue an order or judgement on the police to return the aforementioned fifty pence diary, which meant I had lost the case. At that point the police solicitor stood up and asked for police costs to be awarded against me. They refused. In affect they were saying they believed the police had taken a diary and had lost it somewhere in the system, therefore it would be pointless to issue an order for its return. I thought I had won an important moral victory. The police should not be able to 'legally burgle' your house and lose items without recourse on them.

On leaving the court building I was speaking with Guy Otten; I had called him as a witness. One of the officers I had just given a bit of a hard time to in the dock came over and said "how's your other problem", well I had one for sure, but what was the other I thought? I replied "what's that?". "DHS and working" he replied. I wasn't sure if he was giving advise or threatening me by hinting that he thought I was doing a bit of work on the side!

Around September time Freddy was involved in a life-threatening incident. A new lifeboat was launched near Amble. There was a police launch in the area and Freddy was true to his habit of tailing behind the propeller blades of the engine because of the Jacuzzi treatment he seemed to enjoy. On this occasion he apparently got thrown into the blades. I saw him a few days after the accident and I was horrified by the many cuts into his blubber. The blubber is the fatty tissue surrounding the essential organs, fortunately it is thick, to help insulate the body of a dolphin against the cold. Although some of the cuts appeared to be deep, I was hoping that they looked worse than they actually were and Freddy was behaving normally. There were differing opinions as to whether he should be left alone to heal or have people swimming in the sea. I tended to agree with Horace Dobbs who made the analogy of a human patient in hospital who wants to see family and friends. After I swam with him I definitely felt it wouldn't harm him to see his human friends. Over the coming weeks the cuts started to close and Freddy seemed none the worse from his close shave with death.

September also marked the end of another season of repetition for Betty, Lotty and Sharky of endless tricks and several shows a day in front of people who probably never outwardly questioned, probably more or less anything. I had been given a trial date for December 9th at Newcastle Crown Court. I had instructed Guy Otten, my solicitor, that I wanted Tony Jennings QC as my counsel. In my only other previous court appearance, during the Unilever trial I had noted of the thirteen barristers representing the defendants, he had been the most effective.