December 4 2013 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Thursday, October 17, 2013
For more than five weeks Norwich Crown Court has been occupied by the Mike Souter trial. Crime Correspondent PETER WALSH has sat through much of the trial and here he gives his verdict from court room three.
When defence barrister Andrew Hill made his closing speech earlier this week he said that at times during the trial his client had “entered an arena”.
And at times the trial felt like some kind of boxing match with Souter ahead of the proceedings, or his big fight, promising to do this and that to clear his name but the reality was he was punching above his weight.
Souter was always going to lose the fight because he did not have truth on his side and no matter what defence he put up it was never going to be able to suppress the prosecution’s power.
But regardless of the inevitability of the outcome it did not stop Souter entering the ring more than five weeks ago and in so doing forcing his victims to enter the arena themselves in what has turned out to be a long and difficult fight for justice over many years.
Souter, who described himself as “meticulous” during the trial, certainly walked the walk, even if he could not in the end talk the talk, always arrived smartly dressed - whether in blazer and trousers but always in shirt and tie.
He was also unusually chirpy for a man who was facing such grave charges and rather than having the weight of the world on his shoulders breezed into court - pulling behind him his black wheeled bag - as if he did not have a care in the world.
Fortunately for the victims, despite Souter’s apparent self-confidence Andrew Shaw, prosecuting, did not believe him and from the first moments of the trial until the end of his closing speech carried out a sustained and systematic assault on Souter which left him floored.
No matter how many times Souter pontificated over the meaning, or perceived meaning of a seemingly straight-forward question or veered away from the topic he was being asked about Mr Shaw never failed to bring him back into line.
At one point Souter lost his cool and made remarks to both the prosecutor and the judge that he, the very next day, had to publicly apologise for.
It was an incredible moment in an extraordinary trial which centred on some unimaginable offences against seven innocent victims who, now as men, had to come back to bury their demons and the person responsible for them.
Each and every one of them showed incredible bravery and dignity to come and speak in open court about what had happened to them, in some cases up to two decades ago.