Family Lies Chapter 22: Court

Drawing of a partly-built brick wall with a sign saying: "Under construction." Caption reads: "Work in progress."

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Family Lies Chapter 22: Court chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

Elsie had to appear before the Magistrate’s Court for mention.

The Magistrate asked Elsie, “Do you know why you’re here?”

Elsie replied, “Hello dear, what’s your name?”

The Magistrate tried again.  “Mrs Clark, do you understand this is a court of law? Do you understand this mention is preparatory to a committal on the charge of murder?”

“Oh dear.  Murder, you say? Who was murdered, dear?”

“Your husband, Henry Clark.”

“Oh Henry.  He went away.”

The Magistrate said, “Mrs Clark, I have a letter from your doctor.  He says you have dementia.”

“Oh hello, dear, what’s your name?”

Jessica stood up. “Your Worship, I don’t believe you’re going to get any further with addressing my client.  She was diagnosed with dementia some years ago.  She now lives with her daughter, and has a live-in nurse caring for her. I would like to move that the court dismiss this matter, as Mrs Clark is now clearly unable to assist in her own defence.”

The Prosecutor said, “The Prosecution is happy to accept that, Your Worship.”

“Can either of you advise whether a psych evaluation would be of any use?”

“Both my client’s doctor, and her live-in nurse have told me a psych evaluation would only confirm what is already apparent. Her nurse, her daughter and granddaughters are in the court today if you would like to ask them about her day to day life. They assure me that while it is possible she committed the offence she is charged with, she is highly unlikely to commit any further offences. She rarely leaves her own room, and then usually only to see family members in the home where she lives.  I’m also advised, there were extenuating circumstances at the time of the offence. Indeed there is a chance that were my client able to cooperate in her own defence, it would become clear she had an excuse at law. I am advised it was most likely she was acting in the defence of herself and her child at the time of the offence.”

The prosecutor, said, “I agree that a psych evaluation would add little to what is already apparent. I’m sure if by some miracle the accused’s dementia could be cured, we could present the charges again.”

“Very well,” the Magistrate said. “As the accused is in no state to stand trial, and unlikely to offend in future, the matter is dismissed.”

That was it. Done.  Elsie was free, as free as a person who almost never left their own house could be.

Jenny pushed Elsie’s wheelchair, with Emily walking beside her.  Behind them came Emily’s daughters.  

Outside the court, Detective Carstairs, who had been waiting in case she was called to give evidence, approached them.

“Jack is coming up for mention again later today.  I understand he’s being represented by the Duty Solicitor,” she said.

“Don’t look at me,” Jessica said.  I’m absolutely not representing him or arranging anyone else to defend him.” She looked at Emily and said, “And I absolutely recommend you do not pay for his defence, Henry junior’s either if he’s caught.”

“No, I won’t,” Emily said. “I might have if no-one had died.  But that security guard’s family have lost a husband and father because of them. It could easily have been a member of our family who died.  They’re both on their own.”

Alannah said, “None of us are paying for either of them either.”

“Good,” Jessica said. “Taking care of Jacob was one thing.  Those two are adults.  They’re responsible for their own actions.”

“I have news on Henry as well,” Detective Carstairs said. “He was picked up in Sydney trying to catch a flight to London. Given the charges, and the evidence, the interstate extradition will be a formality.  So he will be here soon.  You’re all going to have to prepare to give evidence at committal hearings for both Jack and Henry, and then for their trials.  I don’t know if they’re going to be prosecuted together or separately. So you could have a lot of court appearances to come.”

Emily was exhausted as Jenny drove her and Elsie home.  Alannah, Jody and Kym travelled separately. 

“The girls will be able to go back to their own homes now,” Emily said. “Even with all the danger it’s been nice to have the whole family together.”

“You can go back to having your family Sunday get-togethers,” Jenny said.

“That will be nice.”

“You’re going to need to get a weekend nurse, you know.  You and the girls can’t keep looking after Elsie on my days off.”

“I realise that.”

“Once we get back, you need to go to bed, while I get Elsie down for a sleep.”


That was when her phone rang.

She would not be going to bed when she got home. A worker from the Family Services Department would be by to bring Jake. He would stay with her on a trial basis, while the Department decided on his permanent placement.

“Are you really ready to raise another kid?” Jenny asked as Emily hit the button to end the call.

“The girls will help.  Carole will help.  We’ll get by.  He deserves a break.”

“I guess he does.  And if I know anyone who’s always willing to give someone who needs it a break, it’s you.”

Chapters of Family Lies

Note, this is the first draft. What eventually is published as a book (if it is published as a book), will be edited, rewritten, and re-edited, and may not have much in common with this first draft.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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