Every now and then, I am reminded that life in Wyke Regis and the Royal Manor of the Island of Portland, resembles a complete and utter madhouse. People are different there, and Portlanders hold a deep mistrust of anybody coming in from outside, probably something to do with them choosing the wrong side in the English Civil War, and being roundly mocked for their folly. Theirs is an exclusive gene pool, and we outsiders are not allowed to swim in it.
Take, for example, the fire that took hold at Portland’s former Naval Barracks. The blaze was started by someone who thought (erroneously, as it turned out) that it was to become a detention centre for immigrants and was determined to put a stop to it by burning the ugly lump of concrete to the ground. In what proved to be PC Rick O’Shea's easiest case, he acted fast and collared the guy standing outside the gates with an empty petrol can muttering “Burn! Burn!” under his breath as he watched the Fire Brigade damping down.
Hauled in front of the beak at Dorchester - scene of Judge Jeffreys' infamous Bloody Assizes - he offered what is probably the most ridiculous alibi of all time. Yes, he had attended the protest against the detention centre earlier that evening and had been filmed by a local television crew getting rather agitated by events. When he got home he found several youths hanging around outside his house, annoying his mother. To make them go away, he offered to buy them some petrol for their motorbikes, using a petrol can instead of filling up their tanks directly as is the custom these days. Then, still clutching the petrol can, he showed them where the old Naval Barracks were, just minutes before the fire broke out. It was at that exact moment in time that the Old Bill arrived...
Verdict: Not Guilty. Judge Jeffreys would be turning in his grave.
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