Legal Alien: A Scotsman in Montreal

Flashback, Edinburgh, September 1996

I was living in residences at the University of Edinburgh and I was sharing a room. My room-mate was my best friend, S, from primary school who had subsequently moved away but we had still kept in touch. S and I were the best buddies in the world ever, we did everything together, one of those perfect childhood friendships.

However, since he'd moved away, we'd started operating in different circles, I was sent to a private school and he.. er... wasn't. So we were living together and it was hardly a match made in heaven, several times he would come back at around 4am when I had a 9am class, and not only that but he would bring people back... indeed I remember at one point trying to sleep through a card game!

I guess the final straw came when one evening I was in my room and I heard someone trying to unlock the door. Assuming it was S I opened the door. I was confronted by 3 people about my age, 2 guys and a girl, who said they were friends of S and he'd given them the keys and was just coming up. This was the first time this had happened. So I said cool and went next door to speak to my neighbour.

5 minutes later I came back to find my wallet, my stereo and my walkman all missing. Bollocks! After all the police interviews and stuff S finally shows up and tries to explain to me what happened. He tells me he was mugged on the street and they stole his keys. Fair enough I think.

Later, I have to go see the Detective who's working the case and he starts off the interview by accusing me of lying to him. Uh-oh. This is not a good sign. I protest my innocence and say all I know is what S told me. The detective then fills me in a little, it turns out that S wasn't mugged randomly, he knew the people, he was buying hash off them. S then says that they kidnapped him, drove him out to a lake in a stolen car and threatened to kill him.

So, the cops found the car, and in it the dealer had left his phone number! Not the sharpest tool in the box. And this kid was WANTED by the cops. He'd been arrested several times but was a minor and so couldn't really be prosecuted. Now the cops had a chance to nail him and so wanted to get him for everything they could.

They arrested the people involved and made me come down to the station for a line-up (ID parade) where I was able to pick out one of the two criminals. I wasn't the only witness, S was there plus 2 other s who saw them running away with my stuff. So, naturally I get called to testify.

Yeeha, testifying against drug-dealers, just what I came to university for! This was a little stressful to put it mildly, but it could have been worse. The girl who was with the two guys, had done a deal with the cops and was in the witness room as well but now had shor blonde hair rather than long brown! And she was so scared.

The first day of the trial, we don't get called because another trial over-ran so as I'm walking out of the building I see a guy asking about our case and when it'll be taking place. I gather from this he is a friend of one of the accused. Worse, he worked at the barber shop where I got my haircut. I decided not to continue my custom at this establishment after that.

Eventually, I was called to testify and swore on the bible in front of a judge and all that stuff. I told my story and then when asked if I recognised anyone, I was unable to pick out the guy I ID'd in the line-up, but did recognise the other guy. I doubt this was the best bit of a news for the prosecution!

Anyway, despite the charges of attempted murder, they both got three years which meant that they got out whilst I was still in Edinburgh at university! Their defence was that S was unable to afford the money he owed them and so gave them his keys and told them to steal my stuff. To be honest, I could see that happening and needless to say I didn't speak to S much after this. Indeed once I did run into him he said that he'd met them again and they remembered him, but weren't really pissed with him. Last I heard about S, he was doing time, i think for attempted robbery, although he maintained he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.