Pat Dwyer: Justice v. The Law

Sometime during 1962 I spotted a Karamui archer aiming at a chook. Good shot sir, right through the neck.

O, sori. Kakaruk bilong Sergeant Anki.’

Donning my police hat:  ‘You’re nicked.’

Dissuaded the Sergeant from administering summary justice under Law 303 (the blunt end) ‘Like me and Masta Bill Sili did during the war.’

Magistrate’s hat on. To trial. Accused pleaded not guilty. Court adjourned.

Friendly kiap’s hat on:  ‘Why, my son?’

I don’t want to go to gaol.’

Most unlikely.’  Plea changed to guilty and accused fined five bob plus five bob restitution for deceased chook.

‘I have no money.  I have never had money.’ 

Two options: inside for one week or cut grass on the airstrip for a few days. Second option taken. Archer given ten bob and signed for same with his X mark. 10 bob taken back in exchange for an official receipt. Five bob to revenue and five bob to Sergeant Anki. Sold one of my surplus laying hens to Anki for two shillings and sixpence, then handed that two and six to the archer for being such a good worker – he had cut quarter of the airstrip.

I know I should have disqualified myself from hearing the case, seeing as I was the arresting officer, the judge, the jury and the only prosecution witness, and had another magistrate flown in at great expense. Then again, maybe I should have proceeded as I did and then lodged an appeal on behalf of the convicted one and waited until the Supreme Court overturned my decision.

Then again, what I did seemed like a good idea at the time.

Everyone was a winner.

 

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