My name is Harriet Caine. I am a professional soccer player and I play in a league known as the Australian Professional Soccer Championship. My team is known as the Hotgoals. We are due to play our arch rivals who are known as the Artillery on Saturday 24 April at 2 pm in the grand final of the competition. Both teams are in North Blackstump and their grounds are merely 100 meters apart. I am a back and, for those who do not understand soccer, it is worth explaining that one of the main jobs of a ‘back’ is to stop an opposition forward from scoring goals. The main job of a ‘forward’ on the other hand is to score goals. In the positionI play, the person who I would most likely have directly faced on 24 April would have been Joan Gabriel, who plays as a forward for Artillery. She is Artillery’s star player but I have always had the better of her. Joan Gabriel is on record as saying that ‘Harriet Caine is the most difficult back I have ever faced, she always seems to run rings around me. I’ve always considered Harriet Caine to be my nemesis. I have never scored when she has been playing, and facing Harriet is like facing a brick wall’. I was on my way to training on 15 March. I was travelling in a 110 Km zone or so I thought. I was accompanied by our goalkeeper, Lorri. I drove. > Along the way, we were stopped by a traffic policeman. He explained that I was doing 110 km per hour in a 70 km zone and he was issuing a ticket. I tried to explain that this was in fact a 110 km zone and there were signs everywhere that said that the speed limit was 110 km per hour. He said that his instructions’ were that the speed limit was 70 km per hour and refused to back down. He then issued me a ticket for speeding. We (that is Pat and I) were already late for training so I didn’t want to waste time arguing. But we back tracked a little and took photos of signs which showed that the speed limit was in fact 110 rather than 70 to be used as evidence. After a while, I actually forgot about the ticket. It was after all just a speeding ticket and I thought I had a good defense. Worst came to worst, I was happy to cop a points deduction and even a fine. I then received a summons to appear in court at 2 pm on 21 March for my speeding ticket. I turned up with Pat, who decided to come along for moral support and to be a witness if needed.
To my surprise, I saw that the judge who was to hear my matter was Judge Peter Gabriel. He is the father of none other than Joan Gabriel, Artillery’s star player. He is also on the board of directors of the Artillery and a well-known, and vocal supporter, of Artillery. He did not show any sign of recognition towards me. I have been introduced to him many times before and spoke to him only three weeks ago just after a game. Our teams have played against each other maybe 10 times in various competitions in the last five years and he would have been at each and evenaama Ha certainly knows exactly who I am.
The police officer formally read out the charge, which was that I had been speeding, doing 110 in a 70 zone. He asked me how I would plead, and I said ‘not guilty’. > The judge asked me what my ground of defence was, and I told him that it was that I had irrefutable evidence that the speed limit was in fact 110 and not 70 as the policeman had said. I told him that I had both a witness and actual photographs to show this. He nodded politely.
The evidence of the policeman was very short. He simply said that I had been clocked doing 110 in a 70 zone. My turn came to give evidence. I agreed that I was doing 110 but said that the speed limit was in fact 110, rather than 70. I showed the photographs taken that day clearly showing the signs showing the speed limit. Then Lorri gave evidence. She said pretty much the same thing and corroborated my evidence. All throughout the police prosecutor as well as the judge just sat mutely.
Then came the time for the verdict. To my shock and horror, he found me guilty. He said that rather than impose a fine or suspension, as it was my first offence, he was inclined to be more ‘lenient’. Rather, he sentenced me to three hours of community service, which was do some routine filing and photocopying for the Blackstump Dog Home. He also directed me to report to the Chief Executive Officer of the Blackstump Dog home at 1400 on 24 April to do this. I gasped. I stammered ‘your Honour, you can’t do that to me.. that is precisely the time that Hotgoals plays Artillery in the grand final.
Something did not smell right. The next day, it was reported in the internet gossip columns that the judge, who was known to be a bit of a betting man, had bragged in social circles that he had bet $25,000 that his daughter Joan Gabriel would score a goal in the grand final on 24 April. What is more, he had actually placed that bet on the morning on the morning of 21 March, in other words a few hours prior to hearing my case. At that time, the odds of Joan Gabriel scoring were 50 to 1, which were very long odds. This was because Joan Gabriel, although she was Artillery’s star player, had never scored a goal for Artillery against Hotgoals when I was playing. •If things did not smell right before, they positively stank now.