The anticipated trial of Lady Malcone, for the murder of Dr Tom Bland, presented a difficult task for the jury on March 2nd. With the contested use of evidence posted on Twitter, the revelation of Lady Malone’s false title and disagreement over the cause of death, the jury was notably divided.
As the trial began Malcone appeared emotionless. Detective Bankhead was questioned by the prosecution as to why Malcone answered no comment in the latter half of their enquiries. It became clear that Bankhead struggled to deal with Malcone’s constantly changing statements. The defence was critical of the investigation, as they brought to the attention of the court additional suspects, such as Sarah Jane Bishop who could have matched the female DNA found at the scene. They went on to accuse the police of coercing a statement with a surprise reveal of additional evidence during Malcone’s questioning.
The first pathologist explained the process of examining a body following a murder, giving a comprehensive overview of the injuries sustained, including the external 8 cm laceration on Bland’s left temporal bone. He claimed that Bland was dead when he fell from the walkway, and it was the head wound from the vase, which proved fatal. However, the defence was sceptical and asked for clarification whether it was the haemorrhage or fall that was the cause of death. They showed a great deal of focus on the sobriety of Bland on the night of his death as his alcohol blood level was exceedingly high.
To the prosecution’s questioning, the forensic scientist discussed the fibres found on Bland’s trousers which matched Malcone’s scarf, and stated that the DNA match would also apply to 110k other females. Furthermore, the vase which had blood on it fully matched Bland’s DNA and they found no match for the cigarette butt found next to the body. The defence similarly followed the prosecution’s line of questioning with a particular focus on the partial DNA match which could not provide a full profile.
Sarah Jane Bishop was then questioned to discuss the party, of Bland and Malcone, and their aggressive whispering which lead to abrupt Malcone’s exit. The prosecution attempted to share a recording of a conversation between Bland and Bishop as evidence, however as it was posted on Twitter the recording was ruled in contempt of court and not played to the jury. The defence was critical of Bishop’s professional demeanour following her emotive tweets about Bland and questioned their sexual relationship. Bishop’s credibility was undermined as she left Bland alone on the walkway, drunk and visibly injured and her frequent assumptions of events in the vault. It was later revealed that she had lied about their relationship and had engaged in romantic activity with Bland.
The jury tensed when Malcone was brought to the stand as she immediately denied knowledge of the artifacts falsity. She remained composed as the defence went through the events of the party and her interaction with Bland in the vault. Malcone insisted that he became aggressive and restrained her from leaving. Her story change was commented on which she justified with the personal stress of her mother’s cancer which caused her to mis-remember. The prosecution was concerned with the contradictions in her earlier statements, perhaps because of alcohol consumption. A surprising turn in the trial was the revelation that Lady Malcone was a false name bought by Malcone. This caused confusion to whether it was changed by deed poll or legally. The defence asserted that this was done legally. When questioned about Bland’s head wound the prosecution mocked Malcone who suggested that perhaps he hit himself over the head with the artefact.
Witness Alex Wells told the defence that he struggled to see the walkway but saw Bland swaying drunk with a woman, who he did not see leave. After the fall he ran to Bland and called an ambulance. The prosecution was sceptical of his assessment of the scene asking him about the substances he had consumed that night, to which he admitted alcohol but no drug use. They also questioned why he called his friends before an ambulance and accused him of attention seeking during the trial.
The second pathologist showed conflicting views to the first. To the prosecution, he asserted that the head injury wasn’t fatal and it was the fall that killed him. The defence queried this and considered the wound once more, to no more clarity.
In their closing statements, the defence championed Malcone’s character and positioned Bishop as a liar, positing her as an alternative suspect. The prosecution stated that Malcone should be convicted of at least grievous bodily harm as her motive was clear. When the jurors returned from deliberating, Jury 1 had reached a unanimous decision that Malcone was guilty on count 5 (grievous bodily harm) and not guilty of other charges whereas Jury 2 cleared Malcone of all charges.