Dirty Harry, naughty George and larking about in court


When I was at University, we used to hold competitions to see who could get the most bizarre phrases into conversation during group seminars without the lecturer noticing. Recently, this hilarious game entered my life in a rather different way.

So there I was in court, squeezed in amongst the police officers and weeping family members, notepad in hand, listening intently to fascinating evidence against a gang of drug dealers who were about to be sentenced to jail.

You could cut the atmosphere with a knife as the prosecution barrister laid out the facts of the case. Phone calls, set-ups, undercover stings, and drugs. So far, so routine. Then it happened.

“He was found carrying a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world…”

What? Did I just hear that right? Did he actually just slip in a quote from actual Dirty Harry?

I looked around for some recognition from the public gallery. There were a few knowing smirks from the various defence barristers, but the case carried on with little more than a titter.

I put it down to a strange one-off and forgot all about it, but a newspaper piece this week about the trial of Boy George, convicted of false imprisonment, stirred my interest again.

The report described how the prosecution in George’s case asked the rhetorical question ‘Did he really have to hurt him’, echoing the lyrics of the former Culture Club singer’s famous song ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’

Coincidence? Who knows. But I think it would be super cool if there turns out to be a nationwide competition among barristers to get movie quotes and song lyrics into their court evidence.


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