As Helen stands trial for attempting to murder husband Rob, Radio Times asked two real-life criminal barristers to argue whether she is guilty or innocent. Below is the case for the defence – click here to read the case for the prosecution.
The Archers trial continues this Monday 5th September on BBC Radio 4.
The case for the defence
Piers Norsworthy, Devon Chambers, Plymouth
Members of the jury, the prosecution wants you to believe that this is a simple case of someone with a clear intention to unlawfully kill another. For a moment, picture yourself in Helen’s shoes.
Life can be complicated. Helen’s life was complicated. Complicated by the skilfully manipulative nature of her husband’s character. His outwardly heroic face was just a mask of the real man. The worst sort of man. Behind closed doors he was a very different person. One who had demonstrated himself capable of overpowering control and levels of force and violence none of us should be expected
Such was the control that he had over his wife, she began to be persuaded by his lies that she was the problem, the anti-depressants, “her hormones”, it was her failings causing the family trouble when in truth it was his.
With few places to turn, Helen started to seek help. You will hear what her life with her husband was truly like in the weeks and months leading to that night. During the next few days of evidence we will unmask Robert Titchener and you’ll see him for what he is. A bully, a wife-beater and a fraud of the worst kind.
You will hear evidence from key people in Rob and Helen’s lives. People who Helen turned to for help, and most importantly you will hear from Helen herself.
The truth is that Rob was far from calm that night; he was extremely angry and was moments away from assaulting Henry, who, at five years old, was no match for his stepfather. Having again just hit her, he gave her the knife, taunting her with her past, baiting her with her future and was about to attack her son. Helen reacted to the attack that she honestly believed was unfolding. It was necessary for her to react. It was lawful for her to react.
If she had intended to kill him, she could so easily have done so but she didn’t.
You will be directed by the Learned Judge that Helen does not have to prove anything, let alone her innocence. It is for the prosecution if they can, to persuade you individually and collectively she is guilty of any criminal offence.
“Not guilty” verdicts do not mean that “she got away with it”. It means that in accordance with your oaths and affirmations to try the case on the evidence, you have considered all that evidence and that you are not sure of her guilt.
Others failed her. They ignored the warning signs. We are simply asking you now to open your eyes and see the complicated truth.