Normally, he wouldn't catch the bus at this time, but he was allowed to go early this day. Tim had led a presentation, which landed a huge contract for his firm and as part of his reward, he was given the rest of the day off. So after a few drinks, he headed home to be with his family. Automatically, Tim bought his ticket and went to sit on the top deck of the double decker London bus. The bus was half full so he had no problem finding a seat at the very back and plopped himself down. Loosening, his tie, he looked down at his rounding body and made his millionth promise to lose weight.
Tim Kingsley was thirty-five years old and worked as planner for the marketing firm of Starkey and Stowe in the City. He was married to the lovely Michelle who also made the same promises to lose weight. They had a boy named Ryan who was twelve and a nine year old girl named Hannah. You could say that they were the ideal British family. However, he wasn't thinking about that, he was celebrating his big role in saving his firm from the clutches of the current economic crisis.
What Tim forgot about getting on the bus at three in the afternoon was that it would fill up with school children. This proved to be true as the top deck was soon filled with teenagers in school uniforms before the bus had gone four stops. Young voices filled the bus with noise, but Tim was able to ignore it.
He saw it out of the corner of his eye. It looked like they had stuck something on the wall at the front of the bus. After the two boys had done it, they gave a thumbs up while displaying wide grins, this obviously was some signal. Suddenly, a large number of boys and two girls rose from their seats and surrounded a defenseless looking boy sitting on his own. Like a pack of hungry wolves, they descended upon the boy. Hands flailed the air before landing on the head of the boy in vicious slaps. Some who couldn't reach the boy resorted to kicking instead. All of them were impervious to the victim's cries to stop.
Instinctively, Tim reached into his coat pocket and took out his mobile phone with the intention to call the police. However, he hesitated about dialing 999 as a reality gripped his mind. If he did phone the cops, the assailants would be long gone before they arrived and although he could identify the attackers, he had a few drinks. Therefore his integrity could be shot down in court by some hot shot defense lawyer.
It also occured to him that the boys who stuck something on the wall had actually covered the camera to avoid identification. He had to do something. Still fumbling with his phone, he had an idea. Trying to be discreet, Tim set the phone on camera mode. He took seven snaps of the happy slapping and was sure he got some good shots of the faces of some of the perpatrators. There was now evidence to show the police.
The attackers deplaned the bus at the very next stop. The made no threats to the bystanders, instead their grins gave everyone the impression that they thought they were untouchable. The took no notice of Tim who was relieved, but he was determined to make sure those slappers would not get away with it.
His detemination to see justice done almost made Tim ignore his wife's delight in seeing him home early. "I witnessed an assault on the bus, I took pictures of it on my phone to show the police," he explained.
"What are you going to do?" Michelle asked, the smile on her round face changing to concern under her grey eyes.
"I'm going to download them onto the computer, print them off and show them to the police," he responded.
Michelle said nothing, but inwardly, she worried about the consequences. Deep down, she knew here husband only meant to do the right thing. Therefore, she gave him all the support he needed.
WPC Edwards looked like she should be propping up a student union bar. Tim shifted on his feet as she looked through the photos, which had come out even better than he had expected. At least three of the photos had clearly showed the faces of the attackers. A moment of tension tugged at his mind as the pretty young constable disappeared for a few minutes. When she returned, she was accompanied by a tall black man in uniform, most likely a superior. The superior identified himself as Sergant Herbert and invited Tim into a room at the back. There, Tim told of the incident on the bus to the sergant and wrote out a statement. The sergant also informed him that the photos were good enough to get a conviction. He was given a number in case he remembered anything else and both officers assured him that the case would be taken seriously. When Tim left the station, he felt certain that those kids would get what they deserved.
Tim didn't hear anymore about the case for several weeks. He simply assumed that the police were carrying out their investigation. He also took encouragement from friends and colleagues who all told Tim that he did the right thing. Then one evening, he saw he had a letter from a solicitor, whom he hadn't heard of. Curious, he opened the letter, but he could have never been prepared for what he read.
Dear Mr Kingsley,
I am writing on behalf of my client, Miss Ann Fenton, who is suing you for the sum of £10,000 for taking illegal photographs of her fifteen year old son.
Tim was aghast as he read on. His first thought was, "When did I take pictures of children?" However, the date of the allegation fitted it all together for him, it was the day he witnessed the assault on the bus. One of the parents was suing him for taking a photo of her son committing an assault.
"I'm afraid the police can't do anything, it's a civil matter, Sergant Herbert explained apologetically.
"But they were committing a crime!" Tim complained.
"I know," the sergant sympathised. "But I'm afraid the police can't get involved. Best thing to do is to see a solicitor yourself, but I hope you will continue with the case."
The solicitor was sympathetic but not very optimistic. Therefore, Tim didn't know what to expect when he followed his solicitor into the room. Inside was another solicitor and a woman around his own age with bleached blonde hair tied back and wearing clothes that failed to hide the fact she was putting on weight. Tim smelled the cigarette smoke long before he got near her. This must be the lady who was suing him.
The two solicitors immediately got down to business. "I am sure we can come to some sort of agreement," the opposing solicitor stated. "All we want is the photos Mr Kingsley took and his promise that he won't persue the matter in the criminal courts.
"Don't forget the money," the woman reminded.
"He committed an assault, a crime!" Tim protested.
"So you say," the woman replied. "How do I know if you're not some sort of paedo who gets off on taking pictures of teenage boys and are using the crime as a cover."
"Don't be disgusting," Tim spat.
"Now, now," her solicitor soothed. Then he turned back to Tim and his solicitor. "The law is with us, if you go to court, you will lose and might even have to pay the full amount."
Tim and his solicitor left to discuss the matter. In the end, his solicitor advised to agree to their terms and he would sort out any financial agreement. The woman's smile widened as she heard that Tim would drop the criminal case and hand over the photos. Her grin only slightly lessened when the two solicitors agreed a sum of £3000. However, for Tim, he was still out of pocket and his belief in British justice had been betrayed.