The Strongest Case For Ram Deconstructed:
Point Counterpoint

[Note: in early November 2000, I received by E-mail some lengthy documentation on the Ram case and campaign. The sender was Lesley, who described herself as “a friend” of Ram’s; she appears to be the main organiser; it was her voice I heard on the answerphone when I phoned the campaign. The files were in Microsoft Word format. At that time I was waiting to upgrade my computer: my main machine, a humble 486, was off-line, and was shortly replaced with a secondhand Pentium. I did not have Word installed on my backup, so used an ASCII text editor (QEDIT) to decode the documents. As a result of that I lost some of the formatting, in particular non-ASCII characters, but also apostrophes and quotation marks. I read the documents very carefully and amended them to the best of my ability. I make this point lest anybody accuse me of manipulating the text to suit my own nefarious purposes, though in view of the literally vast quantity of readily provable lies and distortions spread throughout cyber-space by Ram’s campaigners, this should not be an issue.

There were a number of grammatical and other errors in the text of Lesley’s transmission. I have not corrected these but have inserted parentheses where I consider appropriate.

Although I have commented at length on Lesley’s documentation I have not covered absolutely everything. Even so, the reader who ploughs through the entire site will find a certain amount of repetition (indeed there is a certain amount of repetition within this document). I make no apologies for this as I felt it was essential to leave no stone unturned in refuting all the lies and distortions which have been spread about this case.]


Point: Lesley’s message began: Hello. Thanks for your details - I’m afraid I can’t get the transcripts till at least after 28th Nov. Simply because now is a time for the lawyers which is extremely busy. Other cases as well as Satpal’s and his parole hearing is coming to a head any day as well as all the deadlines for the CCRC. Don’t worry - I’ll keep you informed and get the papers as and when I can for you.

[The acronym CCRC stands for Criminal Cases Review Commission, the body set up in 1997 to review alleged miscarriages of justice. It has the power to refer cases back to the Court of Appeal.]

Lesley’s message continued: I’m attaching for you Satpal’s own account - as far as I am aware the only change is as you have already spotted, the time at which the deceased died. Satpal’s account was written over 6 years ago - from information that he himself collated from his own papers. But we have strong reason to believe that the time at which the deceased died was indeed different to that originally claimed.

Whether it was days later or on the same day I’m not sure. I haven’t seen the proof - nor is this a point that many are concentrating on. From a legal point of view, it is possible that the deceased died because he refused vital medical treatment and this is a view which has never been challenged.

Counterpoint: The words “only change” refer to my pointing out that Clarke Pearce did not discharge himself from hospital after being abusive to the medical staff and refusing to be treated by a woman doctor. He died on the operating table. Lesley did not have the good grace to admit that she – or one of her fellow travellers – concocted this damned lie in order to win public support for the murdering thug she so obviously idolises.

Her further suggestions that a) there was a conspiracy to falsify the time of death and b) that Clarke Pearce died because he refused medical treatment are likewise worthy only of contempt.

Point: I can tell you that the original trial weighed heavily upon the view that Satpal stabbed the deceased in the back (when his back was turned to Satpal) - and that there were 5 wounds making it impossible to plea [sic] self-defense. I am told that if the lawyer had bothered to see the pathologists [sic] report, he would have known that at least 3 of the wounds were superficial and caused by glass. Also no witness said they saw Satpal stab the deceased in the back. The only possible way would have been if the deceased had been facing Satpal - very close to him - and Satpal had struck sideways. This would match the witnesses from Bengali waiters who’s [sic] evidence wasn’t ever heard in court and Satpal’s own account - that Mr. Pearce had indeed attacked Satpal.

Best Regards

Lesley

Counterpoint: Clarke Pearce was stabbed five times: in the groin, in the side, in the neck, and twice in the back. The second time Ram stabbed his victim in the back he twisted the knife. The oft’ repeated claim that three of the wounds were superficial and were caused by glass is a damned lie of the first order. The victim’s body underwent two post-mortems, and the pathologist gave evidence at the trial. For the truth about the evidence of the Bengali waiters whom, we are told, claimed Clarke Pearce instigated the violence, the reader is referred to No Fight, No Argument.

Point: ON 16TH NOVEMBER 1986 Satpal Ram was enjoying a meal after work with friends in the Bengali-owned Sky Blue Restaurant on Lozells Road in Birmingham. As Satpal was ordering his meal, another customer, a Mr Clarke Pearce who was also at the restaurant with a group of white friends, began to shout racist abuse at the waiters with regard to the Asian music being played in the restaurant.

Counterpoint: A total fabrication. In any case, this version of events differs significantly from claims made by the Free Satpal Campaign elsewhere; in the leaflet issued by the campaign for example it is claimed that Ram and his friends were already in the restaurant when Clarke’s party came in, and that as the evening wore on they began hurling more and more racial abuse at both the waiters and Ram and his friends.

Point: Mr Pearce and his party of friends made such remarks as “We don’t want no Paki-Wog music and Black crap”.

Counterpoint: Clarke Pearce was a Post Office worker who worked with many Asians; he had Asian drinking pals; he played snooker with an Asian friend a few hours before he was murdered. He and his sister and brother-in-law had dined at the Sky Blue many times before. Mr O’Neill commented that “We don’t talk like that”. In spite of the outrageous nature of the allegations, both he and Mrs O’Neill found it difficult not to laugh at this and the other claims that have been spread around the globe by Ram’s dedicated army of liars.

Point: Mr Ram retorted by saying, Leave it on, it’s chart music!

Counterpoint: According to the report of his conviction in the Birmingham Evening Mail, Mr Ram actually commented: “Don’t you like Paki music then?” The report in the other local paper, the Birmingham Post, quotes him thus: “Don’t you like Paki music?” Not a world of difference. This quote was actually part of Mrs O’Neill’s evidence; this was given under oath and appears to have been accepted by the jury.

Point: Mr Pearce and his party of friends continued to hurl racist abuse at the waiters and at Satpal himself. MR PEARCE THEN GOT UP FROM HIS TABLE brandishing a BROKEN wine glass with which he then lunged at Mr Ram who managed to push him away. Frightened and in fear for his life (he was much taller and broader than Satpal), Mr Ram then produced a pen knife which he used in his job as a packer at a factory and WARNED MR. PEARCE THAT HE SHOULD NOT COME ANY NEARER. Mr Pearce ignored Mr Ram and lurched forward at him again with the wineglass, cutting Mr Ram’s face and arm in the process.

Counterpoint: All reliable eyewitness accounts of the incident have Mr Ram doing the lunging.

Point: During the attack that followed, Mr Pearce also received injuries. Mr Ram and his friends then left the restaurant not realising how seriously Mr Pearce had been hurt since he was still SHOUTING RACIST ABUSE at Mr Ram as he left. Mr Ram was also deeply shocked and bleeding heavily from his face and arm. He was 20 years old.

Counterpoint: As Ram left the restaurant he asked if Clarke was dead. He would hardly have done this if the victim had been shouting racial abuse. Ram turned up at another hospital some time later; he may have been injured, but he was certainly drunk and abusive to the medical staff. However badly injured he was, and however this injury was sustained, he was fit enough to go into hiding, and to give himself up to the police the following week.

Point: Mr Pearce was later taken to hospital where he initially refused treatment from the casualty staff. He was eventually treated but a knife wound, having punctured his lung, meant that he later died of the injury. Dr Jeanne McGivern who attended to Clarke stated to the police, “He was shouting at the top of his voice and had to be held down by a porter, some ambulance men and some nurses. He was extremely uncooperative.”

Counterpoint: For the context of this quote the reader is referred to the testimony of Dr Jeanne McGivern.

Point: During the days that followed Mr Pearce’s death there was inevitably grief and anger surrounding the events that had led to that death. The family and friends of Mr Pearce were very keen to find the man who they believed had murdered him and this was widely publicised in the local media.

Counterpoint: The murder was witnessed by Clarke’s sister, his brother-in-law, his fiancée, and two friends, so this belief that Clarke was murdered was well founded. Obviously they were keen to find the man responsible and bring him to book, so were the police.

Point: Many in the Asian community felt that a lynch mob, who wanted to get someone for Mr Pearce’s death, had formed.

Counterpoint: If your house is burgled, the crime will be logged, but may not be investigated in any meaningful sense; the police don’t have the resources to investigate every single burglary. Murder though is in a different category. The British police bring to book probably a higher percentage of murderers than any other criminal. Although police work can be highly technical, eg forensics, many serious crimes are solved by sheer brute force. Dozens or even hundreds of detectives and other officers may be drafted in specifically to deal with one particular murder or suspected murder. The police may take hundreds or even thousands of witness statements, search premises, farmland, drag lakes, and question dozens or even hundreds of potential suspects – men with relevant previous convictions – if only to eliminate them. This is a technique that works. Dozens or even hundreds of police officers flooding into an area does not constitute a lynch mob. Be that as it may, the family and friends of Clarke Pearce did want to “get someone” for the murder of their loved one, and rightly so. And the someone they wanted to get was Satpal Ram.

Point: During this time Mr Ram had been staying at a friend’s house in fear and shock after he realised that Mr Pearce had died.

Counterpoint: He may have been in shock when he sobered up and realised the enormity of his crime; the fact that he had been staying (read hiding) at a friend’s house indicates that he knew exactly what he had done.

Point: A few days later Mr Ram contacted a solicitor and agreed to go to the police station to discuss the incident.

Counterpoint: One might refer to this claim politely as a euphemism. The Birmingham Evening Mail of November 18 reported that Ram’s girlfriend had given herself up, and the police said they knew the identity of the suspect, so less than three days after the incident, Ram was wanted for murder. As he was unable to obtain a passport to flee the country he had little choice but to give himself up.

Point: The above is as full and detailed an account as far as we can ascertain. It has been collated from the original court transcripts and Satpal’s own account of the incident. We believe that it is imperative to clarify the incident in such detail. Just as information relating to the specific events surrounding the murder of Stephen Lawrence (some of which only came to light five years after his death) was misleading and confused, there have been many rumours and conflicting reports which have clouded the true nature of events with regard to the attack on Satpal. We wish to stress the fact that this was an unprovoked racial attack and that Satpal’s actions were purely in self-defence.

Counterpoint: Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a knifeman in April 1993; he too was the victim of an unprovoked attack. As was Clarke Pearce. For Ram’s supporters to compare Ram with Stephen Lawrence is an insult not only to the memory of Clarke Pearce but also to that of the eighteen year old teenager who was cut down at an Eltham bus stop in similar fashion.

Point: THE TRIAL

Mr Ram received an unfair and biased trial at the hands of the British Judicial System. There are several points that clearly illustrate this. Primarily, Satpal was ill advised by his own counsel in the one FORTY MINUTE conference he had just one hour before the actual trial began. Although Satpal’s solicitors, in their brief to counsel, put forward that his case was clearly one of self defence…

Counterpoint: For Ram to plead self-defence would have been hopeless. The case was as good as hopeless anyway, but his legal team did the best they could for him within the rules of the legal system. As well as a client’s representative, a solicitor is an officer of the court, and is not permitted to mislead the court by allowing his client to perjure himself wilfully. The same applies to barristers, who generally have a more intimate knowledge of the rules of evidence and procedure in court. Ram’s legal team gave him the advice they considered to be most likely to lead to an acquittal, and Ram took that advice.

Point:…Satpal did not EVER say that he had lost his self-control nor did he ever say that he had killed deliberately.

Counterpoint: Murder does not require an intent to kill, only an intent to cause serious bodily harm. Ram may have told his legal team that he did not intend to kill Clarke, but his pronouncements at the scene of the crime were very different.

Point: The witnesses who gave evidence in defence of Satpal were Bengali speaking waiters whose use of the English language was limited to the general ordering of meals at their restaurant.

Counterpoint: These so-called defence witnesses were in fact prosecution witnesses.

Point: No interpreter was provided for these witnesses and in fact the judge, Mr Justice Ognall, declared that he himself would act as interpreter even though HE DID NOT SPEAK A WORD OF BENGALI.

Counterpoint: This frivolous claim is based on a comment by the judge, who was trying to assist a witness who was having difficulty with giving evidence. A point Mrs O’Neill made to the current writer is that the English of at least one of the Asian witnesses was by no means as bad as he made out in court. It may be that he, like many witnesses in criminal proceedings, came to court reluctantly, or it may be that attempts had been made to “get at” the witnesses. The family of Clarke Pearce have reported intimidation for many years; the fact that so many specious lies have been spread and continue to be spread about themselves and their loved one might rightly be interpreted as a form of intimidation.

Point: A waiter who had witnessed the incident, a student who had spoken English all of his life, was not even invited to give evidence. Thus vital witnesses were effectively SILENCED by the court.

Counterpoint: In this case, the police would have taken statements from everyone who was in the restaurant at the time of the incident. Technically all these people would have been witnesses, but in practice many of them would have been able to contribute nothing meaningful to the trial so would not have been called. A witness to fact may give evidence only to facts within his knowledge. If for example a chef hard at work in the kitchen had heard a scream and was told by the manager that somebody had been stabbed, he could give evidence only to the effect that he had heard the scream and that he had been told about the stabbing; he could not give evidence to the effect that somebody had actually been stabbed. The fact that this particular waiter was not called by the prosecution tells us nothing; it may have been that the prosecution did not consider his evidence to be meaningful. The fact that this witness was not called by the defence either, indicates probably that Douglas Draycott (Ram’s Leading Counsel) believed that he would have caused further damage to an already weak defence case.

The important point about these witness statements is that they were all disclosed to the defence. It is far from unknown for the police to suppress exculpatory evidence, though usually this happens only when they are trying to bolster a weak or uncertain case. They had no need either to fabricate or to suppress evidence in this case because the murder was witnessed by many people. It is not inconceivable that someone could have made a statement to the effect that Clarke had been stabbed by a white woman rather than by Ram. If that had happened then that statement too should have been disclosed, and if the defence had elected to call the witness it would have been a matter for the jury to decide how much if any credibility to attach to it. Murders and other crimes may be witnessed by fantasists, by drunks, or by insane persons. The prosecution is under no obligation to call an unreliable witness, and the defence does so at its peril.

Point: The judge asked the jury to consider a verdict of murder as opposed to provocation upon Mr Ram, stating that Mr Ram had been in his right mind when Mr Pearce received the knife wounds, without placing the incident in its true context which was that Mr Ram had been acting in self-defence during an attack which had been initiated by Mr Pearce.

Counterpoint: Ram was not insane, and was indeed in his right mind; the fact that he was drunk does not alter or mitigate his crime in any way. The judge did not place the incident in the context of Ram acting in self-defence because this claim of self-defence is fantasy.

Point: [The following is quoted verbatim from Lesley’s E-mail.] Extract from police interview with Satpal:

DSM Did you only attack him with the knife? Or did you also use a glass?

SATPAL I did not attack him, he attacked me and I did not use a glass.

Satpal goes on to explain that the penknife he used was a normal folding one for work cutting bands - hessian boxes with bands round them.

DI Why didn’t you just leave the knife at home?

SATPAL I was in a hurry to go out I didn’t think of it at the time.

DI You took it with you for protection didn’t you?

SATPAL I did not take the knife for protection its just that I had it in my pocket.

DI But you used it for that reason.

SATPAL I told you once, the knife was there to scare him when he came at me with the glass. That was the only reason to scare him but it didn’t. He still came at me with the glass. It’s unfortunate that he died but I could have been killed in the same way.

Counterpoint: This sound bite type extract is typical of Ram’s campaigners. Ram was questioned by the police, and obviously did not impress them. He would have impressed the jury even less if he had given evidence at the trial and been cross-examined about the nature of the injuries he inflicted on his victim, the comments he made before and after the stabbing, the nature of the weapon used, his disposal of the weapon, and so on.

Point: The police then put to Satpal that he intended to cause injury to Clarke, “those were deliberate acts by you to cause him really serious injury. He didn’t just fall against your knife”. [The quotation marks have been added].

SATPAL That’s a lie. I did not want to kill him. I’m sorry he died.

Counterpoint: The nature and number of the wounds is good prima facie evidence if not outright proof of an intent to cause serious bodily injury, which is all that is needed to convict a man of sound mind of murder. Without hearing any other evidence the jury might rightly have concluded that Ram intended not simply to injure but to kill; his aggressive behaviour and words would have provided further indication of such lethal intent.

Point: The judge strongly recommended that the jury seriously consider that the evidence given by one of the friends with Mr Ram on the night of the attack was biased in favour of Mr Ram. He did NOT recommend so vehemently that this factor be taken into account with regard to the testimony of Mr Pearce’s fiancée who had also been involved, along with the rest of Pearce’s friends, in the racist abuse directed at the restaurant staff.

Counterpoint: This claim or inference that the judge was biased is amusing in view of one of the documents the current writer found floating in cyber-space at the beginning of March 2001, (click here). If the judge’s summing up had been the slightest bit unfair that would have been grounds for appeal. At neither of Ram’s appeals – 1989 and 1995 – has the judge’s summing up been criticised either by Counsel for the appellant or by the Court of Appeal. In fact it is clear even from the Ram campaign’s own pronouncements that Mr Justice Ognall summed up fairly.

Point: THE CURRENT SITUATION

Satpal has now been in prison for 14 years he is about to start his 15th year. He completed his sentence 4 years ago!

Counterpoint: Ram was sentenced to life imprisonment, and that means life. If and when he is eventually released he will be on licence for the rest of his life.

Point: We have evidence that shows that his parole hearings have been systematically sabotaged by prison officers and that he has suffered inhuman indignities at the hands of the Prison and the Judicial System.

Counterpoint: Everybody has it in for poor little Satpal. What comment can anyone make on this?

Point: He has been moved from prison to prison during his sentence; having now been in most British prisons and moved over SIXTY times.

Counterpoint: In 1981, John McGranaghan * was sentenced to life imprisonment for a series of sex attacks. He was cleared by the Court of Appeal in October 1991, prior to which he was transferred more than ninety times. If anything, his behaviour was more disruptive than Ram’s. Although both a career criminal and an innately violent man, McGranaghan’s behaviour was his way of protesting his innocence. Ram can continue to protest his innocence until the cow’s come home, but unlike McGranaghan he was there, and he did it. He received a fair trial and his conviction has been upheld twice by the Court of Appeal. The more he misbehaves, the more he will suffer.

[* The current writer has intimate knowledge of John McGranaghan and has studied his case papers.]

Point: He has also campaigned for better conditions in prisons and has protested at the all too regular episodes of Squat Searching (anal searches) which have been carried out on himself and his fellow inmates. He has been skilful in his protestations; contacting the press, his campaign and supporters and writing letters to the governors of the various prisons in which he has been an inmate. He has used the correct channels to complain and campaign for decent conditions. It is for these reasons that Satpal Ram, in the eyes of many people, including the media and, we are sure, the prison system, has become a political prisoner.

Counterpoint: Ram would do well to leave campaigning for better conditions to the Howard League for Penal Reform and similar bodies. His main use of the media has been to heap vitriol, hate and abuse on the family of the man he murdered, against his victim, and against the supposedly so racist judicial and prison systems.

With regard to squat searching, this is the result of anti-drug hysteria. It is also a fact that drugs are smuggled into prisons in a particularly obscene manner – the current writer has personal knowledge of this. If the anti-drug policy is to be meaningfully enforced, then squat searching is unavoidable.

Point: After the many attacks that Satpal has suffered, ALWAYS throughout his parole hearings, and the many many prisons he has been sent to, one cannot help but come to the conclusion that he is being silenced and that, frightened at the public outcry that may come about by Satpal’s protestations, the judiciary are attempting to lose Mr Ram within the prison system. Thankfully, Satpal’s campaign for justice grows stronger by the day as does the media interest and public awareness of his case.

Counterpoint: Ram is not being silenced; his name and misleading details of his case appear on hundreds of websites around the world. These are lies which deserve to be silenced or at the very least to be exposed. He is not lost within the prison system; he is a non-entity – a very small fish in a very big pond. The only public outcry is that which is generated by Ram’s small army of liars, and the otherwise well meaning people they are continuing to dupe. Public awareness of the true facts of Ram’s case is to be welcomed, although it will most certainly not be welcomed by Ram.

Point: NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Vital new evidence has been collated that provides a far more accurate account of the events that occurred. For example the number of wounds that the deceased received; nearly all wounds were superficial and caused by glass not by a frenzied knife attack as was originally made out.

Counterpoint: Lies, pure and simple. The only new evidence that could possibly be adduced in this case is perjured evidence, and that is not going to happen, or if it does happen it will not deceive the Court of Appeal.

Point: Gareth Peirce, the high profile civil rights lawyer, has now taken on Satpal’s case. She has stated, “This is a forgotten case, it is a litany of mistakes, of things not done, of evidence not pursued.”

Counterpoint: Click on the link for information re the involvement of Gareth Peirce.

Point: Already well over fifty thousand people have signed the petition supporting Satpal Ram and the campaign will submit them to Downing Street on November 16th.

Counterpoint: A picket of Downing Street did take place as claimed. It would be more accurate to say that some 50,000 people have been duped into signing this petition. People generally are well meaning. They are also deeply suspicious of the government and the legal system, especially in view of the large number of horrendous miscarriages of justice that have been thoroughly documented in recent years. This though is not one of them.

Point: Lozells is an inner city area of Birmingham, the scene of the notorious Handsworth uprising of 1985.

Counterpoint: A riot is not an uprising, in any case this is irrelevant.

Point: It is a mixed community of Asian, black and poor white people. The party of six walked over from Newtown, where Nadine lived, an adjacent working class area with a predominantly white population.

Counterpoint: Mr and Mrs O’Neill dismissed this claim and said that even in 1986, this area had a large Asian population. Clark was also such a racist that not only did he work with many Asians in the Post Office but that he numbered many among his drinking pals, and a number of them, including Sikhs, attended his funeral.

Point: They had been to the Gunmakers Arms public house in Gerrard Street, Newtown before going for their meal. They were drinking there from about 9.30 p.m. until just before midnight. The landlady of the Gunmakers Arms said in a statement to the police that Clarke had been drinking wine and drank the equivalent of about six glasses of wine. Forensic examination of his blood showed that the alcohol level was more than double the driving limit.

Counterpoint: Clarke Peace was a big man and had also been eating, and even if he had been blind drunk – which he most certainly was not – that is hardly justification for murder. Mrs O’Neill said that she was the only member of their party drinking alcohol in the restaurant.

Point: Satpal then came to the Sky Blue restaurant with two friends, a white girl called Evelyn and an Asian man called Navinder. They arrived before Clarke’s party. They had also been drinking before going for their meal. Their table was opposite that of the party of six, separated by about ten feet.

Counterpoint: Mr and Mrs O’Neill are adamant that they arrived at the restaurant before Ram. In any case, this is largely irrelevant.

Point: Satpal describes the incident that led to Clarke’s death: “We ordered our meal and it was while we were waiting for our meal to arrive that we noticed that there was a group of six people who were situated to the left of our table, the group of six people were shouting and swearing. The language they were using was racially offensive and derogatory. We tried to ignore it although it was difficult because of the racist nature of the remarks they were making. The waiter arrived with our meal and it was while he was serving the meal that I noticed that the restaurant staff had put on some piped Indian music in the background. I commented that I like that particular tune and I asked the waiter if he would mind turning up the volume slightly. As soon as I had said that, a man who was with the group of six got up and said he didn’t want any paki-wog music on. He seemed to have been further enraged because I told him that I was not talking to him. He picked up a wine glass, broke it on the table and then came running towards me”.

Counterpoint: This is total fantasy; the tables were too close together for Clarke or anyone to run towards Ram where he was sitting.

Point: He then stabbed me with the glass in the face and I started to bleed heavily. At the same time, his friends got up and started to shout obscenities, they were egging him on and they started to throw plates and glasses at me.

Counterpoint: Again, this is total fantasy.

Point: In the course of defending himself Satpal stabbed Clarke Pearce. The post-mortem showed two knife wounds.

Counterpoint: One knife wound would have been enough, but Clarke had not been stabbed only in the neck but in the back, in the chest and in the groin. The claim that there were only two knife wounds rather than five is a lie, pure and simple.

Point: Bleeding profusely from the cuts inflicted by Clarke, and shocked by the violent incident, Satpal left the restaurant with his two friends.

Counterpoint: It would be more accurate to say that he escaped in a taxi. Note though that this account does not claim that Ram was attacked by a gang, only by Clarke. The skeptical reader might also like to consider exactly how badly Ram could have been hurt if he a) walked out of the restaurant and b) after attending a hospital, went into hiding for eight days before surrendering himself to the police accompanied by his solicitor. There is no suggestion that he received stitches to any life threatening or indeed to any serious injury, and the only independent account we have of his turning up at Sandwell General Hospital says that he was drunk and abusive to the staff.

Point: The police and an ambulance came and Clarke was taken to the Casualty Department of the Birmingham General Hospital. Dr Jeanne McGivern attended to him. She afterwards told the police: “He was shouting at the top of his voice, thrashing around the trolley, and was being held down by a porter, some ambulance men and some nurses. On closer assessment the patient appeared alert, although he smelled of alcohol and was extremely uncooperative”.

She said, “I made the decision that the patient must go to the theatre urgently for a thoraco-laparotomy. He was therefore transferred up to the operating theatre. By the time I arrived in the operating theatre the patient was on the operating table and had been intubated with an endotracheal tube. Apparently he had pulled his lines out on the way up to the theatre, and by the time he was on the table he had once again become profoundly shocked, and had an unrecordable pulse and blood pressure.”

Counterpoint: This is what Ram’s army of liars refer to as the victim’s refusal of medical treatment. The reader is referred to the the testimony of Dr Jeanne McGivern for a medical appraisal.

Point: The medical staff failed to resuscitate Clarke. At 4.23am he was pronounced dead.

Counterpoint: This welcome admission contradicts the lie that Clarke discharged himself from hospital. (Click here to see a scan of the leaflet issued by the Free Satpal Campaign which makes this sick claim).

Point: Satpal also went to hospital after leaving the restaurant. He and Navinder dropped Evelyn off at her house, and then made their way to Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich. A wound in his cheek, caused by the broken wine glass, was treated and sutured up.

Counterpoint: How Ram received this wound remains to be seen; it was certainly not a severe wound, and according to a report of Ram’s conviction, in the local press, and to the judgment in Ram’s first appeal, he was too drunk and abusive to be treated at the hospital.

Point: [These are Ram’s words.] My father told me that the police had made his life hell, they were coming to the house at all hours of the day. They were continually harassing him.

Counterpoint: Under the circumstances this would have been perfectly reasonable behaviour by the police. If they had good reason to believe Ram was on the premises they wouldn’t even have needed a warrant.

Point: It was at this point that I decided to surrender myself to the police. My uncle then contacted John Morgan, a solicitor. He came by car to my uncle’s and he collected me and took me to his office in Corporation Street. I then, accompanied by Morgan, surrendered myself at Steelhouse Lane Police station. In total I spent eight days on the run.

Counterpoint: There is nothing contentious about this.

Point: THE INVESTIGATION

John Morgan is a well known Birmingham solicitor, specialising in criminal cases. Satpal chose him because Morgan had represented him previously in petty matters.

Counterpoint: What these petty matters are has not been specified, but the fact that Ram had previous convictions – as confirmed to the current writer by his solicitor – does rather indicate that he was not quite the little innocent his apologists have made him out to be.

Point: He took Satpal to his office near the Law Courts and Satpal gave him a full account of what had taken place. John Morgan agreed that it was a clear case of self-defence. He advised Satpal to tell the police the whole story and told him not to worry about anything. Morgan telephoned Steelhouse Lane Police station and arranged to bring Satpal round to surrender himself.

Counterpoint: John Morgan acted perfectly correctly. He may indeed have agreed that the version his client presented to him was a clear cut case of self-defence, but Dr Harold Shipman’s solicitor may well have agreed with his client that he had not murdered fifteen of his patients and that the whole business was a terrible mistake. It is a solicitor’s duty to advise his client and to protect his rights; it is for the police and prosecution to decide if there is enough evidence to bring a charge or charges, and it is for the jury to decide if the accused is guilty as charged.

Point: Satpal was placed in a cell for an hour and a half or so, waiting to be interviewed. Two police officers came to his cell during this period and asked him questions, but Satpal refused to answer until his solicitor was there. He was then taken into the interview room, where three officers were present. One recorded the interview by way of contemporaneous notes. Satpal was very nervous and confused.

Counterpoint: Nervousness and confusion are not exactly strangers to police stations. It is perfectly natural for someone who is facing such serious allegations to be nervous; with good reason in Ram’s case, he could see a life sentence hanging over him. It remains to be seen exactly how confused he was; he had been in hiding for a week and had had plenty of time to contemplate the consequences of his actions. And not only was Ram admittedly no stranger to the criminal justice system, but his solicitor would have advised him of what was most likely to happen.

Point: The notes of Satpal’s interview read: “We went into the Sky Blue Restaurant for a meal. Me, Navinder and Evelyn. We sat down and ordered our meal and as we ordered there was people sitting to the left who were racially being abusive language. We took no notice of them yet then the music came on and I asked for the music to be turned up. When, the gaffer was gonna turn it up, the guy over there sitting said we don’t want no paki music. I told him I wasn’t talking to him and next thing I know he got up and picked up a Brandy glass and broke it on the table. By this time everybody had got up then he rushed me and I was against the wall, as he came running at me I went to my back pocket pulled a knife which I use for work. I meant to scare him with the knife, by now he shoved his glass in my face and as he lunged for me the knife went in him. I was gushing with blood. I was confused, the table was on the floor. By now Evelyn had pulled me into the toilets and took the knife off me and she folded the knife and put it on the towel machine”.

Counterpoint: Again, this is Ram’s account, and it is a tissue of lies. Evelyn Schneider certainly did not fold the knife because it was a flick knife, something she admitted in her evidence.

Point: DSM “The man who died was called Clarke PEARCE. I attended the Post Mortem and he had a number of stab wounds, none of them were in the stomach. How many times did you stab him?”Satpal “When it happened it happened so quick I was in a state of confusion. I can’t explain the other stab wounds. But it could be possible he lunged at me from the side, his injuries were sustained”.

Counterpoint: Ram admits he has no explanation for the knife wounds, at least no explanation he could give a jury.

Point: After his interview, Morgan departed and Satpal was put back in a cell. Half an hour later he was taken out again and formally charged with murder. He spent the night in the cell and was brought to the court in the morning. Before he went to the court, Morgan came to see Satpal. Satpal showed him the charge sheet. Morgan told him not to worry as the charge would be dropped at a future date.

Counterpoint: My original comment to this was “It is most unlikely that any solicitor would have said that under the circumstances”. However, that was before I spoke to John Morgan; I will reiterate what I have said elsewhere, I would like to have John Morgan as a friend, but not as an advocate.

Point: When Satpal appeared in court he was confronted with a lynch mob waiting for him. He was surrounded by about a dozen prison officers for his protection from Clarke’s family and friends. He was remanded in custody.

Counterpoint: Mrs O’Neill comments that on Ram’s second court appearance, one of her brothers tried to hit him. This hardly amounts to a lynch mob. On his third court appearance, there were police on motorbikes and even police dogs present. Five of the family turned up, and one of her brothers spat at Ram as he was taken down. While this sort of minor contempt cannot be condoned, it is certainly understandable. In notorious murder cases – in particular in child murder cases – a heavy police presence is often required, and there can be arrests. One is reminded in particular of the case of the boy killers of two year old James Bulger; when Robert Thompson and Jon Venables appeared in court they were met by what could rightly be described as lynch mobs.

Point: When Satpal had been in hiding, the police had conducted extensive enquiries into the incident. They interviewed everyone who had been in the restaurant, apart from two or three young Asian men who left the restaurant immediately after the incident. These men have never been traced; neither by the police, nor by John Morgan, nor by Satpal’s present solicitor and the Defence Campaign.

Counterpoint: The fact that the police conducted extensive enquiries into a vicious murder hardly reflects badly on them. The fact that they were unable to trace three diners is also of no significance when one considers how many people actually witnessed the incident. It is doubtful if these men could have given any meaningful evidence at the trial, and any evidence they could have given would certainly not have assisted Ram.

Point: The police recorded written statements of evidence which followed the basis of the prosecutions [sic] case.

Counterpoint: Without the witness statements there would have been no prosecution case; the cause follows the event. The British police can be criticised for many things, including on occasion rudeness, but this is the first time the current writer has ever heard them criticised for running an effiicient murder investigation.

Point: The eyewitness evidence falls into four categories: Clarke’s own party, Satpal’s two friends, the other diners, and the restaurant staff. In their statements to the police, Clarke’s party clearly distorted events in order to put as much blame on Satpal as possible.

Clarke’s sister, Nadine, said that Satpal: “was standing up and as he stood up his table was tipped up. He put his hand into a right pocket and as he pulled his hand out I heard a click and he said “I’ll kill you you bastard”. Clarke had come round the table to stand by Jackie, his girlfriend. I saw the man with the knife bring the knife down from his head and at Clarke and then he brought it back up at him again. He went berserk. Eddie, Clarke’s brother-in-law, was more honest. He stated that he did not know what had caused the trouble, although he did give evidence that made Satpal sound like the aggressor. All he saw was what he describes as “punches being thrown” and “the shorter Asian (Navinder) with a glass in his hand”. [I’ve tidied up the punctuation a bit here, above.]

Counterpoint: Both Mrs O’Neill and her husband were telling the truth as they saw it. Mr O’Neill didn’t see the knife and he said so; he can hardly be criticised for that. The fact that he didn’t see the knife doesn’t of course mean that Ram wasn’t holding one; Mr O’Neill simply confused knife blows with punches.

Point: Jackie, Clarke’s fiancée, did not see much either. She said nothing about how the argument started. She noticed Clarke talking to someone behind her, turned around and: “noticed that the Asian (Satpal) had what I thought was a table knife in his hand. Clarke walked past me. The next thing I knew everybody was screaming and shouting and I turned around and stood up and I saw Clarke lying curled up on his left hand side and he seemed to be having difficulty in breathing”.

Counterpoint: It remains to be seen if the few words that were exchanged between Clarke Pearce and Satpal Ram can be described as an argument, but Mr and Mrs O’Neill are spot on when they say there was no fight. The fact that Clarke’s fiancée gave evidence to the effect that she “did not see much either” is further proof (as if any were needed) that the witnesses in Clarke’s party were truthful and were not fabricating to show Ram in the worst possible light as his apologists claim.

Point: Nadine’s friend, Sharon, went to great lengths to condemn Satpal. She blamed the argument entirely on him.

Counterpoint: Again, what argument?

Point: She said: “I saw that the Indian kid had a flick knife in his right hand. He said to Clarke ‘I’m gonna cut you up’, and then he just went berserk. She reported a conversation with Satpal after Clarke had fallen down: “The kid with the knife was standing beside the waiters and he said to me ‘Is he dead?’ I said ‘No’, and he said ‘Well he’s fucking gonna be’.”

Counterpoint: This evidence was given under oath and was apparently accepted by the jury. End of story.

Point: Sharon’s boyfriend, David, did not mention a knife but only saw Satpal and Clarke, “punching and throwing glasses at each other”.

Counterpoint: It is central to the Free Satpal Campaign’s thesis that the witnesses in Clarke’s party were all lying and/or grossly exaggerating what happened, yet here they reproduce testimony from two of them [Mr O’Neill and Dave] who were honest enough to admit they hadn’t seen Ram holding a knife.

Point: According to him Navinder hit Clarke with a glass and Clarke “backed off. The first Asian youth (Satpal) was still punching and hitting Clarke and Clarke carried on walking away. Then suddenly Clarke collapsed in the front doorway of the restaurant. David also attributed a damning statement to Satpal: “The first Asian was still shouting and said “I’m gonna kill you, you bastard. He said this about four times”.

Counterpoint: Again, it must be stressed that the incident happened quickly, and that this, and other factors, can alter or even blur the perceptions of witnesses. For example, the fact that Mr O’Neill did not report seeing Ram holding a knife does not mean that he was lying.

Point: Satpal’s friend, Evelyn, gave a statement about the incident which supports Satpal’s account. She confirms that the argument began with racist abuse like: “fucking wogs and pakis” from the party of six. She saw Clarke come over to her table and push a glass in Satpal’s face. She saw Satpal with the knife but did not see it being used. The only thing she heard as they left the restaurant was one of the women from the party of six saying, “You bastard, you bastard.”

Counterpoint: Evelyn Schneider’s evidence was put to the jury, and she was warned by the judge on two occasions that she was perjuring herself. Even if all this talk about “fucking pakis and wogs” were true – and it is not – it would hardly be mitigation much less justification for murder.

Point: Navinder was interviewed by police as a suspect, and was later charged with assisting Satpal to avoid arrest. This charge was dismissed at an early stage of the trial. In his interview Navinder said that Clarke had walked over and, “slapped this glass in Satpal’s face. He did not see the incident in detail, ‘while I was talking to this lady, they was fighting between themselves. I didn’t know exactly what was going on’”.

Counterpoint: Navinder Shinji was in a very difficult position; doubtless he wanted to help his friend, but friendship has its limits. If not for Ram he would not have ended up in gaol.

Point: The other diners interviewed by the police were three white men. Alan, a disc jockey, was a regular diner at the Sky Blue. He was sitting on his own at his table. He heard Clarke say, “Turn this fucking black crap off. He saw Clarke go across the room to the table where Satpal was sitting. He did not see Clarke holding a glass but he saw him pushed away first by Navinder and then returning and attacking Satpal. ‘The white man had his fists raised and lurched across the other Asian who was still sitting. The seated Asian again pushed the white man away. Alan saw little after that as he went to telephone the police’”.

Counterpoint: Mr O’Neill says that Alan never said any such thing. It was he, the latter, who went to phone the police when the manager refused to allow them to use the phone.

Point: The two other white diners, Mark 1 and Mark 2, were sitting together. They both mention a glass thrown from Satpal’s table hitting Clarke. No one else, even those on Clarke’s table, mentioned this. Mark 1 says Navinder stood up holding a knife and a fork.

Counterpoint: Again, this does not mean they were lying; they were simply mistaken.

Point: Mark 2 seems more concerned to interpret people’s actions than to describe them. Clarke gave him, “the impressions that he did not want anything to do with the Asian. However, Satpal, ‘seemed to have some sort of chip on his shoulder and wanted to prove something and wasn’t prepared to let the argument drop.’”

Counterpoint: Mr O’Neill commented that this was an accurate observation. It should be remembered that this man was an independent witness, so the jury may well have attached more weight to his evidence than to the members of Clarke’s party.

Point: Mark 1 was the only person, apart from the Clarke family group, who claimed that Satpal said: “I hope I’ve killed him as he left the restaurant. Mark 2 does not mention this. Nor do any of the restaurant staff. Only one of them says that Satpal spoke as he left, to enquire, “Where is my man?”[Quoted verbatim.]

Counterpoint: So here we have an admission that an independent witness reported hearing Ram speak in such terms. This is strong corroborative evidence as to his murderous state of mind.

Point: The observations of the restaurant staff were crucial to Satpal’s case. The staff were all from the Sylhet district of Bangladesh. Five were present that night, the manager, Sultan and his brother Shalim, Abdul, a waiter, Ahad, a college student who was working part-time and the chef. The chef was not interviewed, but a friend of his, Asbur, who was visiting the restaurant, was. Asbur saw nothing of the incident, but his statement is remarkable because he was interviewed through a Bengali interpreter.

Counterpoint: The evidence of the restaurant staff was not crucial to Ram’s case. The evidence of Abdul Mozomil doesn’t help him at all and in fact may well have damaged his defence still further (if that is possible). His witness statement was considered by the Court of Appeal at the 1989 hearing where he is quoted thus:

“I have seen the two Asian youths from table 7 in the restaurant about two times before tonight. The last time was about five or six weeks ago. On the times they have been before they have been very abusive towards the waiters.”

It is hardly surprising that Ram’s Leading Counsel gave up attempting to cross-examine this witness rather than risk dragging something like that out of him. Mrs O’Neill was informed that two weeks previously, Ram had been in the same restaurant where he had started a fight. This allegation cannot be verified, but if this, or something like this had happened, then an extensive cross-examination of the restaurant staff would have been most inadvisable.

Point: No interpreter was used for any of the others. Sultan and Shalim spoke English, but it was not their mother tongue and their ability to express themselves in English was limited. Ahad, the student, was fluent in English beyond the basic vocabulary of a waiter taking orders. Abdul, the waiter spoke no English. Despite this, Abdul was interviewed in English and a statement in coherent and grammatical English produced by the police on his behalf. It is impossible for this statement to contain Abdul’s own words. (This fact combined with doubts thrown on their statements by Sultan and Shalim raises a considerable question about the way in which the police gathered the evidence in Satpal’s case.) The statement does however make the important point that Clarke attacked Satpal with a glass: “I saw one of the men from table 10 get up and go towards table 7 I saw that he had an empty wine glass in his hand I saw the white man hit the Asian man over the head with the glass he had in his hand”.

Counterpoint: Ram’s apologists want to have their cake and eat it. On the one hand they accuse the police of fabricating evidence to show Ram in the worst possible light, and on the other hand they say that the very same statement exculpates their hero.

This statement was indeed written by a police officer or officers, as is usually the case, it is also probably reasonably accurate as far as the perception of the witness concerned, but this witness clearly did not have a good view of the incident, and it does nothing to mitigate the circumstances of Ram’s crime.

Point: Sultan’s statement to the police says that Clarke and Satpal were punching each other, and that the people at Clarke’s table were throwing glasses and plates. Shalim’s statement contains no details of the incident. Ahad’s statement contains no details of the incident. Ahad’s statement indicates that Clarke started the fight: “Then one of the men from table 10 punched man no 1 at table 7. At this they all started to throw glasses and fight each other.

Counterpoint: Again, these are the statements of witnesses who did not have a clear view of what happened. Clarke did not start the fight because there was no fight, although from a distance it may have looked like there was”.

Point: These were the eye witness statements contained in the papers, on which the prosecution based their case. The papers were disclosed to the defence and Satpal was committed to the Crown Court at Birmingham on a charge of murdering Clarke Edward Pearce.

Counterpoint: The phrase “The papers were disclosed” says it all.

Point: THE TRIAL

Satpal was in custody awaiting trial from 24th November 1986 when he gave himself up until the trial began on 5th June 1987. He was visited by his solicitor’s clerk and a full statement dated 6th May 1987 was taken from him together with his comments on the statements recorded by the police. His statement refers to the racist abuse from Clarke and his party: “The kind of abuse they were giving were words such as, ‘If any of these pakis fuck with us then we’re going to kick their heads in…’”

Counterpoint: This is a total fabrication. Bear in mind that Clarke was dining with his fiancée, his sister and her husband, and another couple, and that this was an Indian restaurant which they had used many times before. Mr O’Neill commented with a laugh that “We don’t talk like that.” And the O’Neill family certainly didn’t when the current writer interviewed them in depth.

Point: The Indian record came on and I liked it and I asked that it be turned up. Clarke got up and said something like, “I don’t want any of that wog music on and I said: “Who’s talking to you? He then picked up a glass and came running towards me and the glass went into my face and cut me just below my lip. I pulled out the knife to scare him once and that was when he dived on me. [Lesley’s punctuation.]

Counterpoint: Running in a fairly crowded restaurant is not to be advised. Ram, all five foot nine and nine stone of him, is armed with a humble pen knife, which he somehow manages to extricate from his pocket and unfold while fighting off a much bigger man who had already shoved a glass in his face. The scenario is not plausible, and of course it never happened.

Point: In their brief to counsel, the solicitors put Satpal’s case clearly as self-defence. “In an effort to defend himself after being attacked with the glass, he struck the deceased. ‘Clearly the Defendant will argue that he was defending himself’”. Leading Counsel Douglas Draycott QC and junior counsel Stephen Linehan went to visit Satpal with his solicitor’s clerk on 1st June 1987. Satpal’s state of mind at the time was one of extreme confusion: “I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I had not yet come to terms with my imprisonment My mind was in turmoil. Overall I believe that the initial interview was a farce.” The result of that forty minute conference was a total shift in Satpal’s legal defence. Satpal had maintained throughout that he had acted in self-defence and a person who injures or kills in self-defence commits no crime at all. Draycott decided that he should not put forward this defence, but should rely on provocation, a defence which reduces murder to manslaughter.

Counterpoint: Communications between the triangle of solicitor, client and Counsel are subject to legal professional privilege, so as far as what happened at these meetings we know only what Ram’s campaigners tell us, and by now the reader will have realised that anything they say must be taken with a large grain of salt.

Ram’s instructions to his solicitor were that he acted in self-defence, but this claim was not consistent with the evidence of the other witnesses nor with the forensic evidence. Draycott was a very experienced barrister, had been a QC for over twenty years and had also been a Recorder for five years. And he wasn’t blind. Clearly he and his junior Stephen Linehan realised that a defence of self-defence was not tenable but that they had a ghost of a chance of putting up some sort of defence with provocation.

Ram could have pleaded self-defence, but he didn’t. The verdict would have been no different; it is difficult to how, if Ram had pleaded self-defence, he could have avoided giving evidence and being subjected to an intense and gruelling cross-examination. Draycott and Linehan also had another client to consider, Shinji, who also heeded their advice, and was cleared on the direction of the judge.

Point: The essence of this defence is that a person loses self-control due to the words or behaviour of another and kills deliberately under the effect of this loss of self-control. Satpal did not say that he had lost his self-control nor did he ever say that he had killed deliberately.

Counterpoint: Actions speak louder than words; Ram’s knife did the talking for him.

Point: The solicitor’s clerk’s note of the conference reads: “The defence that the Defendant will rely on is provocation as opposed to self-defence. The reason for this is that the number of injuries on the deceased make it difficult to argue that the client was merely defending himself.”

Counterpoint: This is what the Free Satpal Campaign tell us the notes say; the notes might have added some other reasons, in particular the weapon used and Ram’s behaviour both before and after the stabbing.

Point: The trial began at the Crown Court at Birmingham on Friday 5th June 1987. Before it the barristers went to see Satpal again briefly. This time the bad news was that they did not want Satpal to give evidence in his own defence. Satpal was upset at not being able to tell his side of the story, but, after some argument, he went along with what they said because, again, he thought they were acting in his best interest.

Counterpoint: Ram told his side of the story to the police; he was not believed. His version of events was put before the jury; it was not believed. Twice his case has been before the Court of Appeal. It was not believed. The only people who do believe Ram are those his apologists have duped. As stated, if Ram had elected to give evidence, which he could have done, he would have been subjected to an intense cross-examination, and would in fact have been the star witness for the prosecution.

One point that hasn’t been raised is that if Ram was so dissatisfied with Draycott, why didn’t he sack him? In a case of this nature it would be ill-advised for a defendant to conduct his own defence, but the courts are tolerant of a client who wishes to change his advocate, his solicitor, or both, especially in a case like this where the stakes are extremely high.

Point: In court appearances before the trial itself, Satpal had already been harassed by Clarke’s family and supporters. On one occasion he had been attacked when being taken from the prison van and he had to be given extra police protection. Now the family and supporters packed the public gallery. They were like a lynch mob. They were racist and abusive. On one occasion two of them had to apologise to the court because they tried to attack Satpal. Evelyn, who attended to give evidence, was called a Paki’s slut. Satpal’s family were frightened and intimidated and only his father and uncle attended throughout the trial. This gave the setting an all-white atmosphere.

Counterpoint: We have already covered this lynch mob allegation. Leaving that aside, it is not exactly uncommon for the family and friends of a murder victim to take a close interest in the arraignment and trial of the accused. If any member of Clarke’s family or circle of friends had indeed tried to attack Ram in any meaningful sense that person would of course have been arrested. There was though an incident in which an elderly woman named Minnie Driver – now deceased - caused a commotion at court with Schneider. Minnie Driver was a family friend who had known Clarke since he was very young, and was obviously deeply affected by his death, particularly in such circumstances. Other family members got dragged into it and ended up having to apologise to the court. So what?

Point: [An all-white jury was empannelled.] Satpal was advised not to challenge any of them, he did challenge one juror (at the time the right of challenge had not been abolished.) He was not advised that the racial make-up of the jury itself could be challenged.

Again this is a right which has subsequently been overturned by the Court of Appeal, but at the time, in cases of a clearly racially sensitive nature, applications were being successfully made for the empanelling of a racially balanced jury. No such application was considered and there was the manifestly unjust situation of an Asian who killed a white man in defence against a racist attack being judged by an all-white jury.

Counterpoint: Exactly what is meant by a “racially balanced jury” isn’t made clear. In any case, this trial was held at Birmingham, West Midlands in 1987, not Birmingham, Alabama in 1937. The way Clarke Pearce is referred to incessantly as the attacker and Ram as the victim, one could be forgiven for thinking that he rather than Ram was on trial. This trial was not of a racially sensitive nature; the victim was stabbed in an Indian restaurant, and some of the prosecution witnesses were Asian.

Point: All of Clarke’s party were called to give evidence and were predictably vehement and biased. Mark 1 and Mark 2 were against Satpal. They were seen by Navinder fraternising with the Clarke party witnesses outside the court before giving their evidence.

Counterpoint: As all of Clarke’s party were in the thick of the attack they were entitled to give evidence, and indeed it would have been criminally negligent for the prosecution not to have called them. Of the three female witnesses, one lost a friend, the second her fiancé, the third a brother. Are such witnesses meant to be anything other than vehement, vengeful, even hateful? They would also be expected to be biased, and the judge would have – indeed did – warn against this. But there is a big difference between a vengeful witness and a dishonest witness. Remember, Mr O’Neill said that he didn’t realise that Clarke had been stabbed initially, and thought that Ram had attacked his brother-in-law with his fists.

As for the prosecution witnesses Mark 1 and Mark 2 (Mark Trace and Mark Stenson) fraternising with the Pearce/O’Neill families, so what?

Point: Of the restaurant staff only Sultan and Abdul were called. Shalim and Ahad were summoned to attend court, but the prosecution did not call them and the defence did not insist that they were called. Sultan’s evidence was comprehensible to the judge and to the shorthand reporter, but he spoke with a strong accent and was not confident in English. What he had to say would have got across to the jury if he had been provided with an interpreter.

Counterpoint: This suggestion that the judge and the shorthand writer could understand the witness but not the jury is rather quaint. If any of the jurors did not understand the witness they could have and doubtless would have, made this known to the court by communicating to the usher.

Point: What he said was different from what the police had taken down form [sic] him, because he spoke of the racist abuse from Clarke’s party, and of how Clarke’s party had started the violence by getting up from his table and breaking a glass, going over to Satpal’s table and hitting Satpal in the face with the broken glass. He also mentioned that plates and glasses were being thrown from Clarke’s table at the time of the glassing. Sadly, the jury must have failed to comprehend fully what Sultan said.

Counterpoint: A witness whose oral evidence differs markedly from his witness statement may be regarded with some suspicion by the jury. One possible explanation for such inconsistency in this case is that his witness statement may have been made up out of the whole cloth by the police. Another is that he may have faced intimidation from the friends and family of Ram. It is also possible that he was genuinely mistaken about some aspect or aspects of what he saw or thought he saw. I must stress again that his incident happened quickly and some people may have thought they saw things – like plates being thrown – which did not happen, or did not happen in the way or at the precise time they thought. It is the duty of the trial judge to warn a jury of this and to direct it accordingly.

Point: The failure to provide an interpreter for Abdul was grossly unfair on the part of the prosecution and grossly incompetent on the part of the defence. The farce which resulted can be seen from the transcript. The prosecution did not question Abdul, but called him in order that the defence could cross-examine him.

Counterpoint: Lesley then produced a transcript of the cross-examination of the witness by Douglas Draycott. This transcript may be accurate, it may have been severely edited, or it may be largely fabricated, but the reader is referred to the authorised transcript of the Court of Appeal’s 1989 judgment to put the evidence of Abdul Mozomil into its proper perspective.

Point: SUMMING UP

The judge gave the jury general guidance on the evidence. He warned them about the evidence of the deceased’s family and friends. “You will, I know, in weighing their evidence make due allowance for the fact that they have lost a loved one whether their distress at the time may not have been compounded by a wish for revenge so as to create a mischievous brew in which reliability and it may be truth are sparse ingredients.”

The judge’s warning about Evelyn’s evidence, which was of course in Satpal’s favour, was clearly sharper than his warning about the witnesses biased against Satpal: “she almost acknowledged in terms” to Mr Douglas Draycott defending Satpal Ram a wish to paint a one-sided picture. He pointed out the fact that she helped Satpal, “via the backstreets to avoid detection”. He said that for reasons such as these, “you may see fit to look at her evidence with a special caution”. [Quoted verbatim from Lesley’s E-mail.]

Counterpoint: No fair-minded person could claim that the above extract indicates bias or unfairness on the part of the judge. His warning regarding the evidence of Clarke’s party is very strong; if his warning with regard to the evidence of Evelyn Schneider is, or appears to be, stronger, this is not without good reason: by her own admission she had assisted Ram to escape (something she could hardly deny); she had also, as stated above, been warned against perjuring herself.

Point: The judge commented on Satpal’s failure to give evidence in court, “He is entitled to sit in the dock and say through his learned counsel, you have made the allegation of murder; now get on and prove it.”

Counterpoint: In criminal cases the court is not supposed to draw any adverse inference in an accused’s refusal to give evidence, or to testify, or take the stand, as our American cousins say. In practice though it is very difficult for a judge in a fair summing up not to do so, and it must be even more difficult for the jury not to do so. My personal position is that the time to hold one’s tongue is when the police and prosecution are in the process of putting together a case, which may involve fitting an accused up. This can involve them performing all manner of dirty tricks and telling all manner of lies. I have personal experience of this. At trial though, an innocent man must stand up and refute the lies that have been spread about him. The important phrase here is “innocent man”; Ram was not innocent. I am informed by legal correspondents that, for historical reasons, in the United States the practice of the accused declining to testify is more widespread than in Britain.

The problem with sitting back and telling the prosecution to “get on and prove it” is that it may indeed to just that. There are some types of defendant who shouldn’t give evidence even if they are innocent. A good example is a man who was drunk at the time a crime was allegedly committed (as was Ram); if he testifies, he might do his case more harm than good, if for example he can’t remember what happened at the time. There is no evidence that Ram, in spite of his intoxicated state, did not know exactly what he did, although the enormity of his crime may not have sunk in until he had sobered up. Narvinder Shinji didn’t give evidence either; he too had been drinking, but his failure to testify was probably a defence tactic to protect Ram. Back to the judge.

Point: Referring to Satpal’s statement to the police, he pointed out that it was not very helpful to his case, “it does nothing to establish his guilt, it does nothing to rebut, contradict, or explain the evidence put before you by the prosecution”.

He diminished the statement further by pointing out that it was not on oath, nor was Satpal cross-examined. Then the judge made the crucial point, which exposes Draycott’s mistake of relying on the defence of provocation alone, “nowhere in any of those interview) answers does Satpal say he was provoked into the killing, provoked into a sudden loss of self-control. Subtly, the judge went on to undermine the defence of provocation”, since that is the forefront of the defence here, why is it that no form of words designed to impress provocation is in fact ever mentioned in Ram’s many answers to the police?

Counterpoint: A judge is entitled to undermine a defence in his summing up. If the defence case is weak – and they don’t come much weaker than this – then the trial judge must in the interests of justice comment on these weaknesses in exactly the same way that he must point out any prosecution weaknesses. In a murder case where no one actually witnessed the act and where the defence has an alibi or a partial alibi, the judge will draw that to the attention of the jury. If a defendant has consistently denied the murder, or has made a confession only under extreme duress, the judge will again draw this to the attention of the jury. But the only real issue in Ram’s case was his state of mind. All this talk about racial abuse and his legal team misreading the pathologist’s report is total garbage. Did Ram know what he was doing? Yes, he was sane, whether or not he was sober is neither here nor there; drunkenness is not and never has been an excuse formurder. Was Ram provoked? No. Did Ram kill in self-defence? No. End of story.

Point: The judge then dealt with accident and self-defence. He did this to avoid the possibility of an appeal on the grounds that these defences were not left to the jury. However, he ensured that the jury would reject the defences: “learned leading counsel on behalf of Satpal Ram does not seek to argue that the stabbing was accidental or may have been, nor does he seek to persuade you that you should conclude that his client was acting in the exercise of lawful self-defence. To use Mr Draycott’s phrase to you, if there is any defence to murder here it is provocation Or nothing. It is still a matter for you, but you may think that in those circumstances for you to reach any different conclusion would be fanciful to a degree. The judge then defined provocation: “Provocation in our law is some act or a series of acts done by the deceased/others or words spoken by the deceased/others which caused Satpal Ram a sudden and temporary loss of self-control and which would have caused a reasonable person to lose his self-control and behave as Satpal Ram did.Two questions arose from this, ‘Did the allegedly provoking conduct cause Satpal Ram to lose his self-control, cause him to act temporarily as though he were not master of his own mind? If the answer to this is yes then, “Would that conduct in the deceased or his companions have caused a reasonable sober person to lose his self-control and behave as the defendant did?”

Counterpoint: [The above is quoted verbatim from Lesley’s text.] The claim or inference here is that Mr Justice Ognall was against Ram. Elsewhere the Free Satpal Campaign have claimed that the judge believed Ram to be innocent! (Click here).

Re the summing up, the suggestion that Clarke’s injuries were inflicted by accident would indeed be fanciful, a better word would be ludicrous. The issue of provocation comes down what would be considered provocation by the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus, that is the ordinary, reasonable, sober, intelligent adult. Would he consider it provocation? Would he, or she, be provoked. There is provocation and there is provocation. A man who makes a sexual proposition to a woman in his local supermarket might expect to have his face slapped. He will receive little sympathy if he runs to the police and complains of assault. If however, instead of slapping his face she smashes him over the head with a milk bottle and beats him unconscious…

Point: Finally the judge posed the issue starkly and in such a way as to point the jury clearly in the direction of rejecting the provocation defence, “would a reasonable sober man, have responded by pulling a knife and fatally stabbing Clarke by stabbing him both in the front and in the back?”

Counterpoint: A fair question followed by the only fair verdict.

Point: The judge then reviewed the evidence that the jury had heard. Two “independent witnesses are mentioned first. The evidence of Mark 1 and Mark 2 is that both say racist remarks were made from the deceased’s table. Apart from that these witnesses support the “family evidence”. Mark 1 spoke of “punches being thrown between Clarke and Satpal Ram”. He never saw a glass in Clarke’s hand, and he heard Satpal say at some stage, ‘I hope I’ve killed him’. Mark 2 saw a glass that Satpal threw which hit Clarke in the head. He stated that he saw Satpal “pull a knife from his pocket and strike Clarke, at the same time he stated that he didn’t see Clarke’s behaviour as aggressive”.

Counterpoint: The above, quoted verbatim from Lesley’s text, is strong confirmation from two independent witnesses that Ram attacked Clarke in the manner alleged by the prosecution. One man saw a knife, the other didn’t.

Point:The judge asked the jury to disregard the evidence of the deceased’s fiancée, Jacqueline, on the grounds that she was emotionally distraught. This of course did nothing to remove the impression which this evidence would already have left on the jury.

Point: The fact that Clarke’s fiancée was emotionally distraught does mean that her evidence should be approached with some reservation, but it doesn’t make her either an untruthful or an unreliable witness, and it certainly doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t have given evidence at all. By telling the jury to ignore her evidence, the judge leaned towards the defence.

Point: The judge dealt with the evidence of the rest of Clarke’s party in some detail. Suffice it to say that those witnesses embellished their statements to the police to paint a more damning picture of Satpal.

Counterpoint: This was for the jury to decide.

Point: [Quoted verbatim from Lesley’s text.] The judge said that, “the broad effect of the evidence of Eddie, Nadine and Sharon was that Clarke was the luckless victim of a wholly unprovoked and indeed fatal assault by Satpal Ram. Eddie’s manipulation of the truth was so blatant that the judge was obliged to draw special attention to it. In his statement to the police, Eddie had said little or nothing about the incident and had admitted that he did not know what had caused the trouble. In court, Eddie testified that, ‘Satpal Ram stood up and said I’ll kill you, you bastard’. This discrepancy, said Mr Justice Ognall was, ‘the sort of issue which disposes me to say that you might think it right, as I put it colloquially, to aim off a little when you are looking at what I call the family evidence’.”

Counterpoint: Of course, if Mr O’Neill had wilfully manipulated the truth he could have claimed that he saw Ram attack Clarke with a knife, but – again! – he said that at the time he did not realise that Ram had a knife and thought Ram had attacked his brother-in-law only with his fists. Other people in the restaurant likewise misinterpreted this lethal assault as a fist fight between two diners.

Point: [Quoted verbatim from Lesley’s text.] The judge then went on to the evidence of the witnesses whom he termed “ostensively independent. In this category he included the lone diner, Alan, and the manager, Sultan. (Not the two Marks.) He re-iterated some of Sultan’’ evidence. Alan, he said, had seen Clarke threaten Satpal, lurch at him and then take a blow at him. He stumbled back and then went back again towards Satpal. He saw nothing in Satpal’s hands when he first got up. He was just pushing the white man away. As Alan went to the telephone, he saw a knife in Satpal’s hand.

Counterpoint: None of this does Ram any good as far as the inference of the judge being against him is concerned. We must reiterate that this part of the summing up refers to the evidence of people who saw the incident and placed various interpretations on it according to their perceptions. It is for the jury to decide which if any set of facts is true and what interpretation they place on them and on the actions and intentions of the defendant or defendants.

Point: [Quoted verbatim from Lesley’s text.] The judge then returned to Evelyn, and repeated his “strong warning about her evidence. (A strong warning against Evelyn as compared to merely “aiming off for Clarke’s family”.)

Counterpoint: And to disregard the evidence of Clarke’s fiancée, never let it be forgotten.

Point: [Quoted verbatim from Lesley’s text.] He deals with Draycott’s efforts to persuade her to substantiate his preferred defence of provocation. She denied that Satpal had suddenly “gone wild. Draycott then suggested “that he had obviously lost control of himself, lost his head. After a long pause Evelyn said: “well I suppose it could be suggested that that was the case.

Counterpoint: Draycott was trying to point her in the direction of provocation. Schneider’s evidence, on this point at least, appears to have been honest.

Point: [Quoted verbatim from Lesley’s text.] “Dealing with the medical evidence, the judge made no suggestion that the cuts on Pearce’s face were caused by Satpal’s knife, or by Satpal at all. He referred to the two knife wounds. He pointed out that Dr Gower, the pathologist, had thought that the fatal wound could have been caused when both men were standing sideways on. Mr Justice Ognall referred the jury again to Satpal’s own account in his interview with the police, a copy of which had been given to the jury. He then gave his final directions. These contained a parting shot at the defence, as he presented the jury with the dilemma created by Draycott’s gross blunder. “If the prosecution have made you sure not only that this killing was deliberate and unlawful (which is not disputed by the defence) but they have also satisfied you that it was unprovoked, Satpal Ram is guilty of murder.

Counterpoint: This was not a blunder by Draycott, gross or otherwise. Draycott was a distinguished QC but he wasn’t a magician. Re the inference of unfairness in Mr Justice Ognall’s summing up, Ram has as stated been before the Court of Appeal twice. On neither occasion was it suggested that the judge had summed up unfairly; at Ram’s second appeal, the Court of Appeal pointed out specifically that Draycott had acted properly.

Point: The jury retired at 11.20 in the morning of Wednesday 10th June after a trial which had lasted only three days remarkably short for a murder trial. An hour and twenty five minutes later they returned with a verdict that Satpal Ram was guilty of murder. [Quoted verbatim.]

Counterpoint: The reports of Ram’s conviction in the Birmingham press say that the jury took half an hour to convict him; this claim was repeated by the current writer in his article From Murderer To Martyr. The transcript of the judgment of Ram’s first appeal says the jury was out for one hour twenty-five minutes, so this latter is undoubtedly correct.

Though the trial would have lasted longer, perhaps another day, if Ram had given evidence, there can be no doubt that the verdict would have been the same.


On April 11, 2012, I made some heavy but purely cosmetic edits to both this page and the one at the first link below the line. The original can be found here (Part 1 only)

http://www.geocities.ws/satpalramisguilty/ram_strongest_1.html


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