Saturday, 20 November 2010

I wouldn't defend this criminal....reality bites....

I was in Athens yesterday when I was telephoned at 4a.m. to be told that my home had been burgled. The burglars had broken in through the conservatory. The police told me that it was a professional crime, with the burglars specialising in stealing high value/prestige cars. This was evident in that the criminals did not take any of the valuables clearly on display in my home (other than my computer which I think they took as an after thought). What they wanted, and obtained, were my car keys. They then drove off in my car - their intention, the police believe, being to sell it to criminal organisations who operate by exporting stolen prestige vehicles to Middle Eastern or Asian countries where there is a heavy demand for such cars.

Nine hours later, I am now home having had a traumatic and deeply upsetting journey. In the few hours since I was told my home had been violated by strangers I have had to deal with all the diverse consequences of being a victim of crime. There is the obvious financial loss, in my case more painful, I suspect than for most of those who have sadly found themselves in a similar situation. Having walked through the door, I began checking my post - a huge pile of unopened mail that never seems to diminish in its size or its capacity to terrorise me into leaving it untouched and unseen! Its usual menace was, on this night however no match for my intense need for the distraction opening mail would give me in the moments after I came through my front door knowing someone had been there rifling through my stuff. Anyway, the second letter I absently tore open was a reminder from my insurance company that my car insurance was due to expire and would not be renewed without my express authorisation. 'Gosh, I must do that, I thought, staring at the date at the top of the letter'....it took a little while before I realised that the letter was three weeks old and that my insurance had expired nine days ago....and a little longer before the effect of this began as a distant rumble somewhere in my head and then hit me with the inexorable force of a tsunami! Hmm....I was suddenly £45k out of pocket. This was something of a bitter pill to swallow, particularly as I had been darkly ruminating on the flight back to London that the locksmith who I had retained to change all the locks in my home had left me a voicemail invoicing me for £1500. At that stage, and blissfully ignorant of any other possible financial losses, I was horrified at the prospect of having to pay £1500, let alone a penny more! Little did I know that in fact the cost to me as a result of this burglary would mean an equivalent of paying forty thousand locksmiths at the rate my chap had charged me!

The loss of my computer is simply devastating to me, and I am hit every few minutes with new realisations of why this is so. My whole life is contained in it. Professionally, all the work I have done over the last eight years is lost. Eight years of financial accounts, lost. Eight years of legal software, lost. The precious personal files on the computer are even more painful to contemplate in their disappearance. Irreplaceable videos and photographs. My music collection. The huge body of letters and emails that were, in effect, the chronicle of my life...all lost. It seems an abomination that such precious and priceless pieces of my life are in the hands of....of, well, I don't know.

And as I write this, my dark and hateful thoughts about what I would like to happen to the scum who has so trespassed upon my life, my rage at the unfairness of it is like a random but insistent stream of consciousness in my head flowing by just behind the thoughts I marshall in writing this post. The random hate, rage, revenge et al is like background noise, a fuzzy mass of seething blackness like a television screen screaming chaotic buzz when a channel has gone off air.

As those who know me may attest, I have always sought to find something good to come out of any (and there have been many) of the disasters that have occasionally punctuated an otherwise wonderful life! So as I write this post, I have somewhat reluctantly let go of all the hateful thoughts I have been thinking about the nameless, faceless object of my rage. And in doing so I find myself deeply uncomfortable with the lynch mob fantasies I was engaging in only moments before. This is just one more crime in my life. The difference is that for the first time I am its victim, rather than the champion of the accused. Of the hundreds of burglars I must have defended, I have probably empathised with them all, and felt genuinely that they were in some way victims themselves....drug addicts, homeless, thoughtless, desperate and disenfranchised members of our world, individuals to whom we as a community owed a responsibility and in whose crimes we were not ourselves entirely blameless.

You know, writing a blog is quite therapeutic and, like the keeping of a diary, an excellent way in which to work out and identify the views you hold through the process of committing thought to writing. And my thoughts? Well, I can't say I am happy about what has happened, but I think now that the title of this posting...'I wouldn't defend this criminal...' would in itself be criminal were I to remain of that view. Of course as a victim I 'couldn't' defend someone who had committed a crime against me. But I am pleased that at the end of my post I have realised that, for me at least, it will always be 'couldn't' and never 'wouldn't'. My calling demands that I do my best for all those I represent, without fear or favour. I couldn't...and wouldn't...have it any other way.