Their child is snatched and killed. This is a horror so unimaginable that, for the parents coming to terms with it, even the abductors outrageous alibi will eventually begin to sound reasonable.
First draft of script, noting down the ideas. Just view it for what it is.
Old, grainy video of children performing A Midsummer
Nightís Dream Ė Act 1, Oberon/Titania. Home video, girl in school uniform,
first day at secondary school.
Set up Richard Whiteís work,
international travel (UN) Party in Sarajevo hotel, 1995. Richard talking
and laughing with group of people. Spots clock leaves room and goes to public
telephone in bar.
(To phone) Hi, Polly. Itís me. Howís everything?
Scene intercuts with Polly,
interior of comfortable, UK suburban house. Dog barks
Polly: Hello darling. Fine, weíre fine. Youíre not working too hard?
just finishing up here . I should be home by the end of the week.
Polly: Thatís good. Jemima misses you.
Richard: I miss her too. Can I talk to her?
Youíve missed her. She went round to Lucyís for dinner so
they could do their homework
together. Theyíre putting her under so much pressure at school, itís really worrying her.
Richard: Iím glad sheís new making friends. Give her a big hug from me, wonít you.
Polly: And thereís a parentsí evening next week.
Richard: Iíll be there.
Polly: Oh, that would be wonderful. Are you sure?
Richard: Iíll be there.
Scene: Police press conference. DI Sanders, Richard
In answer to the question from the gentleman at the front, we are
still treating this as a missing
personís enquiry and remain hopeful to the possibility of a happy outcome. To this end we
would ask anyone who knows or thinks they may know of Jemimaís whereabouts toÖ..
Jemima, this is Mummy, darling. If you are watching or
can hear me, please, please
come home. You're not in trouble and if you're with friends, they're not in any trouble either.
Look, we just want to find out where you are, to know that you are
safe. We are so worried
and we want you to come home.
Polly: Daddy and I love you very much. We will both be home, waiting for you.
Police interview room. DI Sanders, Sergeant Dale, Lawyer,
Sanders: So you donít deny it
Itís all right. Itís Ė you donít understand.
Iíve done nothing to be ashamed of. Remember, it
was me who called you.
Lawyer: Can I please have a few minutes with my client.
Scene cuts in: Morgue. Tania and Richard are shown body on table. He comforts her, then breaks down himself. Back to interview room.
Goodman: You would never have known where to look. I called you, donít forget that!
Sanders: I can understand how you would want to confess, get a horrific murder off your conscience.
Why do you keep saying I murdered the girl? Murder is the killing of
people. I never killed
anyone. I love children. Thatís why I called you. I just want to help them, to set them free.
By killing them? You admit that this is your voice? I am playing a
recording of telephone
conversation marked 24th June, 11.43.
SFX: Recording - Goodman: Hello, is that Detective Inspector Sanders?
Sanders: Yes, who is that please?
Goodman: That missing girl, Jemima White.
Sanders: Do you have information?
Goodman: I can tell you where she isnít.
Sanders: Are you playing games? Wasting police time is a seriousÖÖ
I can tell you where she isnít. She isnít about half a mile along
from Spring Lane to Brockhampton Rise.
SFX: Cut recording.
Dale: And yet that is precisely where Inspector Sanders found the body.
client has admitted to making the call and of being at the scene of the crime.
He is clearly
cooperating and assisting you as best he can. I strongly recommend that you undertake a less
aggressive tone of questioning. I take it you wish to retain his goodwill. .
Sanders: Weíll decide the tone of our questioning, now, to put itÖ
Goodman: Iíve admitted that I was there in the woods.
Sanders: Can you explain what you were doing there?
Goodman: I was waiting.
Sanders: Why were you waiting at that place?
Goodman: Not for the one you think I was waiting for.
White? You say you were not waiting for Jemima White? But thatís who you
found, didnít you? Thatís why you killed her.
Thatís where you are so wrong. Thatís why I called you, to do it
properly, so nobody
would get hurt.
Scene: Exterior, woodland. Sanders
conferring with arriving Dale and forensic
investigators. Action over next
speech, showing digging up of clothing, inspecting footprints.
Sanders: I was the first at the scene of the crime. It doesnít matter how many years you do this job, nothing prepares you for the kind of scene I found there. ÖÖ..Strands of her hair were found on your jacket, your footprints match those found at the scene and fibres found under your fingernails were matched to clothing found buried nearby and identified by Mr and Mrs White. As belonging to
Goodman: I didnít kill their daughter. Iím not telling you again.
Dale: Itís up to you. Weíll keep asking until we get the truth.
Goodman: The truth? You wouldnít understand.
Dale: Try us.
Scene: Home videos, baby pictures, up to first day at
Goodman: I was trying to help, to free her. She wasnít really their child.
Sanders: The Whiteís have made no mention that their daughter was adopted. But even if that were true, is that your justification for murder?
Goodman: I didnít murder anyone. I love children.
Dale: So why did you attack this poor child? Is that the way a sicko like you shows love?
Sanders: Was it a random act, or had you been watching her for a while?
Scene: Exterior, woods. Goodman
crouching in undergrowth, wolflike.
Goodman: I had been watching. But she did not look special.
Dale: She was pretty special to her parents.
Goodman: But it wasnít the look. It was the smell of her. Thatís why. I knew she was the one by her smell.
Sanders: She was the one? You said, ďshe was the oneĒ. That suggests to me some planning, not just a random act of violence.
Goodman: Iím more like you than you realise.
Sanders: You are nothing like me. Do you understand
Leans over, threateningly.
Lawyer: I trust I shall not have to remind you that this interview is on tape. Can I assure my client that your current stance is not intended as in any way threatening?
Sanders: Excuse me. I haveÖI needed to straighten my back.
Goodman: You know what I mean. Babies have a particular sweet smell. You canít resist them, as a stranger you want to pick them up and hold them to your face. You canít resist...
Dale: What couldnít you resist? Have you harmed babies as well?
Goodman: Dear God no. Thatís what Iím trying to tell you. You must be sick or something. Nobody could harm a baby.
Dale: Some people do.
Goodman: Well theyíre sick. They should be locked away.
Sanders: And you shouldnít?
Goodman: No. But you know how, yíknow, when babies grow into children, they smellÖ..different.
Sanders: I donít see where this is getting us. Can we get back to
Goodman confers with Lawyer.
Lawyer: My client wishes to continue cooperating with you, but finds your interruptions distressing.
Dale: He finds what we say is distressing? Iím not sure I can take much more of this, sir.
Sanders: Please, continue.
Goodman: Most people have a poor sense of smell. Mine is more attuned.
Sanders: In what way do you exercise thisÖskill?
Goodman: When children grow, reach puberty, they should be kept apart. For hundreds of years, adolescent people were separated by society? Why do you think that is?
Dale: Iím sure someone will tell us soon.
Goodman: The smell of the opposite sex is a great distraction for people of those ages. At the strongest when they have least control over the urges it brings.
Dale: Civilised people seem to manage to get through the day.
I have keen senses, like a parfumier or a wine taster.
Sanders: Are you trying to explain why you canít control your urges?
Goodman: No, not my urges. I am not a teenager made drunk through primal drives and phemerones. Like I said, I am like a wine taster. There is a particular smell that a young woman emits at the very moment she emerges as a young woman. No amount of perfume or deodorant can mask it.
Sanders: Can you tell us how you use your expertise in identifying pubescent girls?
Goodman: You still donít get it, do you. That is the only opportunity I would get to could catch those like her. The moment she becomes vulnerable, thatís when you have toÖ...
Dale: Can we take a break please. Iím not feeling very well.
Sanders: Suspending interview at ÖÖ12.52. Get some air, sergeant. Come back with some coffee when you are feeling better.
Dale, looking pale and distressed, exits. Lawyer
and Goodman confer.
Lawyer: My client would prefer to continue, if that is all right with you, inspector?
Sanders: So, to recap what you were saying, the young girls become vulnerable when they walk through the woods. And thatís where you come in. You lie in wait, pounce on them, rape and murder them to satisfy yourÖÖ.
Goodman: Will you going to listen to my evidence or are you going to continue to make it up yourself?
Scene: Law court
Clerk: How do you plead to the charge that you did abduct and sexually assault Jemima White?
Clerk: How plead you to the charge that you did wilfully murder Jemima White?
Goodman: Not guilty.
Barrister: Mílord, may I approach the bench?
Judge: Your client has entered his pleas. Reports have been entered by two doctors according to M'Naghten Rules. Are you arguing now that he is incapable of understanding the charges?
Barrister: No Mílord. I am suggesting that he fully understands the charges but denies the actus reus, in that he admits to being the cause of the victimís death. He denies rape and refuses to accept that his actions were in any way criminal.
Barrister 2: Mílord, should we not subject this to the decision of the jury in the usual way?
Judge: I am rather disposed to agree. Given the heinous nature of the crimes I will not be open to any attempt to play games with the count. However, I am bound to enquire if it is the intention of the defence exclusively to rely upon the mental state of the defendant at the time of the offence?
Barrister: My client has no other defence. This is the reason for his pleading guilty to the assault and innocent to murder.
Barrister2: The prosecution will not be sympathetic to a plea of diminished
responsibility if they take this
My client has been so advised and is not seeking for a reduction of
the charge to manslaughter due to
his diminished responsibility. He is aware of the consequences. He is also anxious that, at the
appropriate time when trying this case, you should take a number of other similar offences into
Barrister2 nods to Barrister, both
bow to Judge
Judge: I will instruct the jury. May we proceed?
Judge: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it is the contention of the defence that the defendant was insane at the time of the offence. In this defence you will not be asked to prove guilt since the defendant has admitted to this court that he carried out the actions resulting in the death of Jemima White. Witnesses will be called and evidence given in the normal way.
Scene: Home videos, baby pictures, up to first day at secondary school.
Judge: I will be asking you to establish, first of all and principally for his own protection, the veracity of the defendantís confession. You will be hearing his testimony but I will not be calling the police, forensic or other witnesses. I will ask you to disregard anything you may have read or seen in the news media in the lead up to this case. It is his testimony alone from which you must form your decision. Secondly, and this must be seen as your principal task, you will be asked to verify his mental condition at the time of the alleged offence. You may decide that the defendant had a disease of the mind and that this disease caused a defect of reason, preventing him from realising the fatal consequence of his actions upon the victim at the time of the alleged assault. There again, you may decide that he was fully aware of what he was doing. Do not be alarmed by the role you are required to undertake; I am not asking you to take on the role of diagnostic psychiatrists. A ďdisease of the mindĒ is a legal rather than a medical term, taking in both physical and mental conditions, determined by agreed norms rather than clinical judgement. At this point, ladies and gentlemen, I must also instruct you that, contrary to your normal understanding of jury decisions, the burden of proof lies with the defence.
trial is shown in snapshots, back and forward to Mr & Mrs White, over the
continuing Judgeís speech.
Judge: The defence will attempt to convince you that a mental condition was the chief causative factor in the alleged abduction, assault and murder. The prosecution will try to dissuade you from this view. And again, whilst demanding your best efforts I caution you not to be overawed by your responsibility. No doctor can say, with any amount of certainty, what thoughts go through a personís brain. We can never know exactly what was going through the defendantís mind at the time following Jemima Whiteís disappearance and up to her death. Nevertheless, it will be your decision, and yours alone, to decide the mental state of the defendant. And to repeat, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, your decision is not to be beyond reasonable doubt but requires that you state only the balance of probability.