( In this epic landmark case Bigot and two others were charged with offences under the Theft Act , when it appeared that a title, trophy and prize money had been obtained as a result of cheating by their two team mates . Bigot , who had never won a proper competition before , denied any wrongdoing on his part, and consequently refused to hand back these ill-gotten gains. A short extract from the trial's transcript appears below, with Bigot of course conducting his own defence . )
Prosecuting Counsel (PC) : Please tell the court, Bigot....were you aware of your team mates cheating ?
B-J : What .....members of my team cheating...... a preposterous suggestion !
PC : Well, we have their written confessions in court...
B-J : Forced out of them no doubt under duress....
PC : No...they were freely and openly made without fuss
B-J : Well, that just goes to show what honest cheaters they were......unlike all those bastards who cheat and remain dishonestly dumb
PC : Are you suggesting that cheating is a widespread practice in the game ?
B-J : Have you ever played the game yourself ?
PC : No
B-J : Well, if you had then you would know the answer to that question
PC : Well, let's get down to the nitty gritty of this case. Under Section 5 (4) of the Theft Act a person is guilty of theft if he/she obtained property by another's mistake, and was subsequently under an obligation to make restoration of the property, or its proceeds, or the value thereof, but fails to do so.
B-J : God you know your stuff....
PC : The property in question was the national title, the silver cup, and the prize money.....which I might add rightfully belonged to the runners up. The competition organisers mistakenly declared you the winners, despite being made aware of the cheating allegations. The spoils were wrongly handed over to you, but once your unscrupulous team mates had confessed to cheating , you were duty bound to transfer the property back to the rightful winners.
B-J : Ah....but isn't bridge a game of chance ? A game in which big money can ultimately be won on the turn of a card ?
PC : Please explain....
B-J : You see ....the entrance money is like the stake , and all entrants have a chance of winning it back plus more. Given that there is only going to be one winning team, it is often down to chance as to which team will eventually walk away with the money. This means therefore that the tournament is a wagering and gaming event . Therefore, I was not under a legal obligation to restore anything as payouts and /or paybacks are not recognised as legally enforceable. Moreover, even if property had been handed over to us by mistake , there is no form of civil restitution that applies to ill-gotten gambling proceeds.
PC : An interesting observation I might say...but one which is totally flawed. Bridge is not a game of chance but one of skill. Entering a bridge venue is not the same as walking into a betting shop. Even if you were not under a legal obligation to restore the property to its rightful owners , there was an overwhelming moral obligation to do so.
B-J : Ah....but what you have failed to establish is the mens rea element of theft.....which is dishonesty. Firstly, the cheating carried out by my team mates was not dishonest.....their actions were nothing more than frowned upon table antics......naughty school boy pranks.......inappropriate behaviour.......but as for " dishonest " I reject that claim entirely. And secondly, my motives were honest in that I genuinely felt we deserved that title for the way the three of us had played out of our skins.
PC : Bigot.....you know full well that the trophy would not have been won but for the cheating by your other two team mates. Closing your eyes to this reality, and condoning the cheating of your team mates, all fuelled no doubt by your insatiable greed for fame, glory and money, makes you an extremely dishonest person.
Judge : Well said that man.....clearly there's nothing left to argue over............. so will you jury members nip off for 5 minutes and return with your guilty verdict.....then we can all be home for tea-time
B-J: But I haven't finished my defence yet...
Judge : No point...
B-J : Bugger
( This law report was inspired by a recent , must-read , hard hitting article written by Cam French involving a major incident with a similar story line...but as yet with an unresolved outcome to correct an ongoing injustice . )