I read of a case recently where identical twins bamboozled the courts. Nothing new, the Kray Twins swapped places once in borstal, the visitor took the place of the prisoner. And they weren't even identical. But always difficult where identification is essential.
There was a murder close to where I lived several years ago. A motorcyclist wearing a helmet and visor strode up to a man in the street and with a handgun 'blew him away' so to speak. Identification virtually impossible, the crime is unsolved to this day. The influence of the Krays in my youth plus the shooting were the influences behind the first short story I ever wrote. I hope it amuses some of my friends out there.
Mistaken IdentityPerhaps, with the name the Bray Twins, Albert and George were predestined to a life of crime.
Identical, very identical, they were carbon copies, viewed by strangers with awe, by parents with pride. At times their appearances changed, but their likeness was always methodically observed.
Born in the back streets of Derby, their childhood was, in the main, unexceptional. They did all the things many other boys in their circumstances did: they swore, lied, scived school, stole, but always together.
Large, devilish bright, with a cunning born of necessity, they became a formidable partnership, sometimes admired, often loathed, but always feared.
Their criminality grew with their years. Petty corner shop thieving at five; extortion from other children by ten. At fifteen a pair, always a pair, to be avoided by every child and most adults! For a beating from one person is painful and frightening; from two, terrifyingly traumatic!
Nor was their viciousness limited to their own sex. Thought by many to be attractive to the eye, if not the soul, the twins had no difficulty in gaining female admirers. Often shared, always ultimately discarded, they were treated to a disdainful existence ruled by fear. Conquests, objects of lust to be discarded at will.
Even a local massage parlour cum brothel was not immune to the twin’s deviant tastes. Many a girl had reason to dread a visit from the sadistic duo; pleasure and pain were so often synonymous.
The Brays, like the illustrious Krays, ruled supreme in their own little fiefdom, bullying and scheming. Their treatment of others was intimidating, all were fearful of becoming their next victim. Victims who could never prove the twins guilt, for lying was second nature to Albert and George! The criminal advantage of their identical appearance was always evident, but its true worth was proved almost by accident.
Involved in a road rage incident, inevitably of their own making, either Albert or George treated the other motorist to a merciless beating of the utmost ferocity. This violence the result of a disturbing psychopathic disorder that was to become increasingly disturbing as the years progressed.
Witnessed by bystanders, unable or unwilling to intervene, the twins were nevertheless instantly recognised and quickly arrested, their first arrest in an already long life of crime. But, supremely astute, fuelled by self-preservation, their intuitive cunning proved to be their salvation.
It did not need a Rumpole of the Bailey to recognise a conviction rested on unequivocal identification.
On the identification parade stood Albert, and of course, George. One, short hair, parting on the right. Six feet tall, dark blue blazer, light blue shirt, matching tie, light grey cavalry twill trousers, dark grey socks, smart black brogues.
The other, short haired, parting on the right! Six feet tall, dark blue blazer, light blue shirt, matching tie, light grey cavalry twill trousers, dark grey socks, smart black brogues!
Inevitably, neither the victim nor witnesses identified, the assailant with certainty. The case had no chance of even going to court. The twins walked from the parade free, bomb proof, even more arrogantly certain of their invincibility. But the case taught the twins a criminal lesson awesome in its possibilities. Both twins together meant recognition, elimination of one meant identification of the other. One twin meant doubt and confusion. No identification meant no conviction. They never again performed a criminal act together. Criminal acts, yes, sometimes even by rota, but together, never. And their crimes escalated, ABH, and GBH, leading almost inevitably, to murder.
The execution was carried out with clinical, efficient precision. Albert, or was it George sat in the shadows astride a silent motorcycle. Helmeted, gloved, correctly attired, almost nonchalantly the rider waited, attracting little or no attention in the poorly lit street.
The victim drove up, at his normal time, in his normal fashion. The car engine died. The driver, after a brief unsuspecting pause alighted, locked the car door and walked, as a thousand times before, to his front door. Albert, or was it George stepped silently, professionally from the semi darkness. The barrel of the gun was inches from the nape of the victim’s neck before he had extracted his keys from his pocket in readiness of entering his inviting abode. It is doubtful if he was ever aware he was about to be despatched to eternity.
It was over almost before it began. Albert, or was it George walked, almost casually, back to the motorcycle.
He sat astride, it fired first time and sped smoothly away. Clean, clinical, classy, a perfect execution!
Ten miles and ten minutes away, a motorcyclist pulled onto the forecourt of a petrol filling station.
The helmeted, gloved rider dismounted a short distance from the kiosk. Unhurriedly he walked over to the payment booth, glancing unperturbed, at the cigarettes displayed on the shelves behind the young female assistant idly surveying her nails.
“Twenty Silk Cut,” he requested, proffering a five-pound note.
“Yer what?” The assistant made little attempt at civility or comprehension.
“Twenty Silk Cut!” The muffled request was repeated, annoyance mingled with impatience.
“Twenty what?” The request was only in part deciphered.
Boredom, indifference, and an equal amount of ignorant disinterest were apparent.
Annoyance, frustration and anger took over. The rider took off his helmet and, very slowly, enunciated his simple request. “Twenty Silk Cut!” His manner was deliberate, angry, but controlled. Message received, the assistant selected the cigarettes, accepted payment, selected change and almost threw both in the direction of the once again helmeted figure. With scarcely controlled annoyance the rider retrieved both and strode purposefully back to his machine.
The police arrived, albeit invisibly on the street housing the Brays the following week. Routine checks on all CCTV cameras within a twenty-mile radius of the crime had been rewarded. The forecourt camera of a filling station revealed the unmistakeable features of a Bray twin, gold incisor and all.
A discreet watch by undercover policemen in the guise of road sweepers, milkmen, postmen and their ilk paid dividends. On the third day of observation a Bray twin, gold incisor to the fore, arrived at the house. Massively outnumbered, he was easily detained. Routine fingerprints of the twins had been on the police files for many a year, perhaps for such an eventuality. Even twins, however identical, do not share fingerprints!
The twin in custody was undoubtedly Albert. Combined with a motor cycle suit and helmet retrieved from the Bray household, exactly matching that worn on the CCTV footage, bingo, mission was accomplished. In the words of the Sun newspaper concerning the Belgrano Gotcha!
The trial was anticipated by all. At the scene of the crime, no prints, no DNA, no positive identification! True, a witness had seen the motorcyclist, suited and helmeted as in the CCTV footage. True, the police knew a Bray twin was undoubtedly guilty of the heinous crime. Probably the prosecution knew, the defence counsel knew, even the jury probably guessed. The prosecution knew convincing the jury would not be easy. But the incriminating image of a Bray twin in the exact same gear as the gunman surely pointed to one verdict only?
That George had vanished from the face of the earth, no matter. One twin, one crime, one identification, one conviction.
The early days of the trial were taken up with the legalities that are necessary, but border on the mundane. Policemen routinely considering their notes to prove details of arrest.
The who, when, where and why’s important to the legal system so admired by judiciaries throughout the world. Points of law were argued, the wit and wisdom of barristers displayed.
All things come to those who wait. After days of argument and counter-argument, truths, half-truths and mere conjecture, the end appeared in sight.
Albert sat in the well of the court throughout, attentive, composed, confident.
Hair closely cropped, black blazer, white shirt, dark silk tie; Grey trousers, matching socks, black slip on shoes.
His gold incisor gleamed in the subdued fluorescent courtroom lighting.
The defence barrister stood up to deliver his final speech. He smiled a supercilious smile. He was about to deliver the final blow that would destroy completely the prosecution’s case against his client. Oozing confidence bordering on arrogance, he proceeded to treat judge and jury to a performance of stunning virtuosity.
Not for nothing was he considered the natural born successor to George Carmen, the greatest advocate of the twentieth century!
The trial came to life. “There is no absolute proof that my client is guilty of this crime. The prosecution admits no weapon was found, no DNA and no fingerprint evidence to connect my client to the crime. If, and only if we concede the CCTV shows Albert or George Bray, and if, only if, we concede the time shown on the camera film is correct, how can you or any one else be sure it is Albert and not George, George and not Albert?” His look was condescendingly overbearing.
“Remember,” he stressed, turning to the jury, “A conviction needs absolute certain identification.”
He struck out his chest, inviting applause for his oratory skills. He paused for effect before continuing with boundless self-importance, “My Lord, I would like to call one final witness.”
He looked towards the door at the rear of the court. The jurors as one gasped in astonishment. A sense of Déjà vu pervaded the air.
George Bray strode purposefully towards the witness box. His closely cropped hair, black blazer, white shirt and dark silk tie caught the eye; as did his grey trousers, matching socks and black slip-on shoes. And his gold incisor gleamed in the subdued fluorescent lighting!
George entered the witness box and took the Bible in his right hand, preparing to take the oath.
The defence counsel interrupted. “That won’t be necessary, Mr Bray, you may step down.”
George did as requested. All over bar the shouting, a triumph of law over justice. The judge raised a quizzical eyebrow and gave an enquiring, inviting look in the direction of the prosecution counsel.
“I too would like to call one final witness, your honour.” The rear door of the courtroom again opened. A slightly built young women entered, dressed in an immaculate white blouse, short red skirt and high heeled shoes. Attractive, but with minimum make up, smartly businesslike, she walked with slow but confident steps to the witness box. This time there was no juridical interruption and she repeated the oath in a quiet but clear voice.
“And you are?”
“Senita Smith.” The prosecution council led the witness in what was obviously an unfamiliar role. “And your occupation?”
“Masseur and call girl.”
Call girl may have been chosen to appear less indelicate than prostitute, but the effect was the same.
Audible gasps of astonishment emanated from every last corner of the court. All present, without exception, focused with an air of expectancy on the young lady.
“And you in your chosen profession know who your client was between six and seven o’clock on the evening of the ninth of November?” The time coinciding with the time recorded on the forecourt CCTV was not lost on the engrossed audience.
“And who was your client?”
“George Bray, sir.”
The defence council leapt to his feet.
“I object, your honour! No one, but no one has ever identified a Bray twin without resorting to DNA or fingerprint evidence. The prosecution have neither in this case. How can you be so sure whether you were with Albert or George on the night in question? He directed a withering look of contempt towards the young lady and sat down.
The whole court waited with bated breath.
The young lady sighed, looked towards Albert and replied.
“Because, sir, I’ve had relations with Albert and George many times. I can without doubt tell you which is Albert and which is George. So can Candie, Lolita, Fi-Fi, Lola, Barbie, Andria and Marj. You see, sir, only one of the Bray twins is circumcised. I can tell you without doubt I was with George on the night in question!"