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Title: Rejuvenation
Genre: Broadchurch
Rating: T (subject matter, emotions, legal matters)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: A chance thought of her assistant makes Jocelyn Knight ask Tom Miller additional questions to check his evidence. His answers lead to others bringing forward evidence that would otherwise have remained hidden until the Defence uncovered them. Will it be enough to reverse the damage done by Sharon Bishop and Abby Thompson?
Disclaimer: If I owned any of the characters, some of them wouldn't have gotten away with what they did. Of course, I'm not yet up to the story-telling abilities of Chris Chibnall. I would like to be, one day.
Dedication: tardis_mole, for betaing and being the reason I'm writing Broadchurch fanfic to begin with. Posted in honor of bas_math_girl's birthday.
Author's Note: Starts in Episode Six after Jocelyn speaks with the Latimers following Tom giving evidence against Mark. Written because I simply needed to right a few blatantly illegal things done. I may be an American, but I think we can all agree when something doesn't seem right.


Rejuvenation

Start Date: July 11, 2015
Finish Date: September 4, 2015



Chapter One: Chance Discovery

Jocelyn left the Latimers to their tense silence, and concealed how much she was fuming as she walked away. How could Mark keep his meetings with Tom from them? Hadn't she told them that anything that might be damaging to the case needed to be admitted to up front to her before the Defence could find out? How many more people would hurt this case? Could they take one more hit?

Jocelyn?'

She sighed. “Ben, please tell me you have found something useful.”

It's something I noticed on reviewing a teacher's statement from the original interviews after Danny's death. It might not only negate some damage done earlier by the Defence, but knock the wind completely out of their sails on some of their accusations. And I double-checked Ellie Miller's phone records. There's something critical that we need to ask Tom.”

He waved her into their office so they could talk without being overheard.

/=/=/=/=/

Jocelyn did not need Ben's findings to begin her questioning, or to get Tom to admit that he had lied under oath. But was that enough to challenge the Defence's credibility with the Jury?

What Ben had found might. If she could get Tom to speak the truth.

Tom, you were present when your uncle, Paul Stephens, was arrested, were you not?”

Tom startled. Where was this coming from? “Yes.”

You were how old at the time?”

Not quite seven years old.”

Why was he arrested?”

The boy cringed, shaking at the memory. “My mom and dad caught him beating up my cousin, Olly. And my aunt, Lucy.”

What did your parents do?”

My mum shouted at my dad to call the police. Which he did.”

And your mum?”

Tom swallowed. “She was so angry. She got in-between Olly and my uncle. I was scared for her because he was bigger than her. He took a swing at her, but she ducked and hit him... in the goolies. And kept kicking and shouting at him. I didn't understand the words then, but I now know she was calling him bad names. Names he deserved.”

He didn't fight back?”

He did, yeah. She got punched a few times, but she knew how to knock him down and I think fury made her stronger than usual.”

What did your dad and aunt do?”

They had to pull her off him. I think she was called in and had to stay home from work for a while. But it was ruled as self-defence. But the CPS refused to take the case to Court, even though I'd known Olly being picked on by his dad since I was little, and Uncle Paul left town rather than have a restraining order.”

The incident was aimed to put a comparison with Joe Miller that would stick in the jury's mind. It would make the then DS Miller's actions look triggered solely by fury over what she was told, and negate some damage done to the credibility of the police.

Did you ever ask her about why she did it?”

Yes. She... she said she'd suspected something was wrong for a while, but catching him in the act made her so angry she didn't think. He said something about having the right to do so, and she said she swore she saw red and... wailed at him to protect Olly. To make sure he never did it again. And he didn't.”

Did she say anything about getting violent with someone because of something they did?”

Yes, she said I needed to avoid fights. They're not good, they get you into trouble, and they don't really solve problems.”

Did you ask if she got in trouble for what she did?”

Yes. She said he tried, but there were witnesses to him hitting Olly and Auntie Lucy, so she just lost a chance at a promotion then because they couldn't encourage that behavior.”

Has she ever repeated or admitted to doing that again?”

He was silent for a long moment, eyes not focusing on anything. “No, but ever since I heard that my dad had been arrested for killing Danny... I worried about what she might do if ever alone in a room with him. If she was that aggressive defending Olly and Aunt Lucy... she'd be twice that at least if she worried for a moment about someone's safety.”

So if your mum ever hit your dad, it would be because she felt you were in danger or because he said something that she considered unacceptable and perhaps a risk to you and your brother?”

Jocelyn remembered what was on the video that captured Ellie snapping at Joe, and it was triggered by his asking to see Tom. Although she was not certain she could bring that up here.

Yes.”

Sharon and Abby looked at each other, frowning. This incident, while not a great look for Ellie Miller, made her attacking her husband at the station look more understandable. The weight of blame could not be placed as much on her because she was painted as a lioness who defended her own. And especially children.

Tom, how would you describe your mother as a person?”

He blinked, but the answer came quickly. “Um... loving. Caring. Loyal. Fiercely loyal. Believes in right and wrong, and doing the right thing even if it's the hard thing. She said that doing right isn't easy.”

Loyal. So she believes that when you make a vow you honour it?”

Yeah.”

Especially her marriage vows, correct?”

Tom's eyes fixed on her. “What? She'd never cheat on Dad! Never! Why would you even ask?!”

So there is no chance, despite what the Defence accused your mother of when she gave evidence, that she would have started an affair with DI Hardy?”

WHAT?! Him?!” Tom looked at the Defence. “Are you two stupid?!”

Tom, that's not acceptable court conduct,” the Judge interrupted.

Tom looked at her, apologetic but shaking as his eyes flashed. “I'm sorry, my lady. But they're wrong! My mom hated DI Hardy! He took the job she expected to get when we came back from Florida, he was a grumpy bugger, sorry for the language. And she hated that she had to invite him over! She wouldn't have if Dad hadn't told her to.”

Sharon looked up suddenly. That had been Joe Miller's idea? Suddenly her telling him to shut up seemed like a bad idea.

Jocelyn's eyes widened slightly. This was a development. She glanced at Ben, who looked back at Joe before motioning that it had to be the truth. It emboldened her to press the point. “You mean it wasn't your mum's idea to invite DI Hardy over for dinner on the night of the 30th of July, but your dad's?”

Yes. The DI scared me, and she'd never make me do something I told her I found scary. Problem was, he had to be the one to interview me. Everyone else was too close. She apologised for it.”

Tom, did you call your mum from your house phone on the night of August 30th at 11:48 PM?”

The boy stilled, eyes going wide. “Um... yes.”

Abby went motionless then, worry all over her face.

Why did you call her?”

Fred woke, and I kept hearing him crying. I've woken up to him before, but I always heard Mum or Dad answer. When it was a few minutes I got up to check on him. His nappy needed changing. I called out to Dad as I went to start things, but he didn't answer. So I changed Fred on my own.”

Did you look for your dad?”

Yeah, after I put Fred back to bed. Dad wasn't in bed, and he wasn't anywhere inside the house. I didn't check the shed because we're not supposed to go outside if neither Mum or Dad were there, especially at night. So I dialed his number first.”

And what happened?”

The way his expression changed was like a light bulb going off in his mind. “I heard his phone ring. I hung up from shock and went to where I heard it. It was in the bedroom.”

So you then dialled your mother?”

Yes, but it got disconnected quickly. I considered dialling right back, but I remembered that she was on duty and might be dealing with something important. So I waited.”

Did you just go back to bed?”

Not at first. But soon I heard the front door. I went back into bed then, listening. I could tell it was Dad. He was breathing heavily, and I thought he was crying.”

Did he check on you?”

Not straight away. But he did. I... pretended to be asleep.”

Tom's voice grew more and more shell-shocked with each passing moment. He looked at his dad, eyes pleading for an answer. But Joe looked down, like his head was weighted down by some burden. Tom could not tell if it was shame, guilt, or both. His eyes watered and his energy looked like it was draining rapidly from his body.

Jocelyn could tell that Tom was flagging. Some kindness would go a long way with the Jury, but a little home truth would also help the situation. “Tom, were you aware that that was also the night DI Hardy collapsed in pursuit of a suspect?”

No. Wait... you mean, the night it was said he nearly died?”

Yes.”

Oh... You mean my call... made the suspect my mum was chasing run off and the DI had a heart attack?”

That was the assessment on the entry in his medical file.”

A few simple statements might provoke the Miller boy into admitting things he had previously withheld. Things that she was certain the Defence would not want him to speak about.

Oh. I mean, I don't like him, but I wouldn't want him to die.”

Tom, is there anything else you've not told either the Police or the Defence that might be even slightly related to Danny's case?”

He swallowed. “Yes.”

What is it?” Jocelyn asked, painfully aware that it was a double-edged sword.

There was one other night my dad left the house.”

Leaving you and Fred alone?”

Yes. 19th of August.”

The whole courtroom instantly went silent after several loud indrawn breaths. That was the night that Olly Stephens' boat was set on fire.

Jocelyn's posture strengthened, knowing she was on to something important. “What did you notice that night?”

I didn't realize anything was wrong until I heard the front door open and close. I thought it was Mum coming home, but then I heard Dad's footsteps instead. And then I heard the washing machine going.”

Could you smell anything?”

Yes. Petrol. And the smell of bleach, which I've seen Dad use to get stains out of clothes before.”

Suddenly Joe Miller's guilt looked much stronger, and the Defence looked unable to speak.

Jocelyn was about to call an end to the questioning, but one more question came to her. If she was right, then the Defence would have a huge credibility problem to overcome and their assertions would be tainted.

One last important thing, Tom. When you went to the Defence and told them your story, did you tell them that Mark Latimer said he felt guilty or that he said was guilty?”

Abby's eyes went huge.

Tom took several deep breaths. “I... said that he felt guilty.”

The courtroom murmured enough that the Judge had to call for order, although her eyes were as wide as anyone's.

Felt? Then why did you stand before the court earlier and say that he said he was guilty?”

Tom's eyes turned onto the Defence, especially Abby, and his gaze turned cold as the wheel started spinning faster in his head. “I spoke to Miss Thompson, who I went to asking to give evidence. I told my story and then she asked me questions, asking something slightly different each time. I don't know how, but by the time we were done and she said she would call me to give evidence... She made it sound like I'd actually said Mark had said he was guilty.”

The murmuring continued, with Lucy and Beth each adding a gasp.

Jocelyn's next question might make or break the case. “Tom, do you feel that you were guided to say something that you knew was untrue?”

Objection!” Sharon cried. “This is completely out of context and has no bearing on the case.”

My lady,” Jocelyn cut in forthrightly. “The witness has already admitted he spoke an untruth. Why he did so is very important.”

Overruled. Go ahead, Tom.”

Tom took a deep breath. “Yes. She told me to say it in Court.”

This time the murmuring stopped, with all eyes – including the Jury's – on the Defence.

Jocelyn restrained her smile to a compassionate one. “Thank you for telling the truth. It is the only way Danny will see justice carried out on this world. No further questions.”

As she sat down, the Judge looked to see if the Defence would try rebuttal questions, but it was clear that they were in no shape to do so. “Tom, thank you. You obviously endured a lot. You are excused.”

Tom gladly stepped down, fleeing to his aunt's side and not looking at his father at all.

Jocelyn was not done dealing damage to the Defence. “My lady, in light of the witness recanting part of his statement that may have been influenced unduly by the Defence, I call for all mention of the meetings between Tom Miller and Mark Latimer to be struck from evidence.”

Sharon stood. “My lady, the Defence argues the fact that the meetings between Mark Latimer and Tom Miller pose a substantial threat to the charges in this case, and shed light on possible guilt elsewhere than the defendant.”

I will consider the request,” the Judge evaded. “However, now there is an accusation of procedural misconduct by officers of the Court. That has to be evaluated. Court is adjourned for the day. The Prosecution and the Defence will remain to give their cases for the evidence to be excluded or not. We will resume tomorrow morning.”

/=/=/=/=/

Judge Sharma listened carefully to both sides of the argument for against allowing the evidence of Tom and Mark Latimer’s meetings to be admissible in Court. It was not an easy matter to simply allow it, any more than it was an easy matter to throw it out.

As it was, the Defence team were already on the brink of Contempt of Court. If she dismissed Tom Miller’s evidence, it could hide their hand. It was a difficult tightrope she was walking. And she had a feeling they had other much nastier tricks up their sleeves.

If she went against the objection, she could be seen as being swayed in favour of the Prosecution. On the other hand, if she upheld the objection, it opened the floodgates on even worse underhanded misconduct.

Sharma knew she had to take that chance.

I’ve made my decision to allow the evidence.” She watched Jocelyn and Ben sink into their seats, while Sharon and Abby allowed themselves a small sigh of relief, and then delivered her blow. “On the understanding that both sides re-evaluate the quality of their case. We have already struck from record far too much evidence; much more and the case will have to be thrown out. This witness should not have been put on the stand under these circumstances. Tom Miller is too young to have been given such heavy questioning. He is well aware of what you did in twisting his words, and I will not tolerate it happening again. Is that clear, Mrs. Bishop?”

Miss Bishop, and it’s perfectly clear, my lady,” Sharon replied.


Chapter Two

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
Sep. 4th, 2015 03:42 pm (UTC)
Oooh, the plot starts to thicken. The whole thing about Olly's dad makes perfect sense; and the attack would have made quite an impact upon young Tom. It is sad but understandable that Tom both hates and fears Hardy at this point. I do hope that you manage to change his opinion for the good.

Thank you so much for honouring my birthday in this way!!! *hugs* It was really wonderful to see this appear today. :DDDDD
tkel_paris
Sep. 4th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I was up late trying to finish the rest of the fic. I think you'll enjoy more as I post it. :DDDDD
cannibalilly
Sep. 5th, 2015 03:26 pm (UTC)
Good thing they questioned Tom properly! Makes sense he would have noticed his dad vanishing at night. I never really thought about it, but the bugger left Tom and the baby alone at night several times just to keep playing his game *grumbles* No matter if smart or not, I get why Ellie beat him up.
tkel_paris
Sep. 5th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, you found this one! :D Yes, it's understandable, if sadly something that a solicitor, good or nasty, should pounce on. Next chapter is up, and more will be coming later tonight.

(I need to nab me some Broadchurch icons...)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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