Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Helen In The Dock 3 – Helen takes the stand

Julian Bywater is cross-examining Ursula who tells the court that of fears for Henry’s safety. She lays it on thick, saying Helen’s family didn’t help, and with Rob out at work, how could Helen cope with a new baby – “even with anti-depressants”. She goes on to say how Helen went ‘berserk’ when she found out and threatened to kill Rob.

Next it’s Pat’s turn. JB gets her to repeat exactly what Helen said when she threatened Rob – exactly what she had said in her statement: “I swear I’ll kill him”. Then much to Pat’s surprise, he has no other questions. Cue another session of hand wringing outside the court as Tony runs after her – more of the “I let Helen down” that we’ve been accustomed to because “I had all these things I wanted to say”. Still getting ‘witness box’ confused with ‘soap box’ Pat?

Then Helen takes the stand. Earlier we heard from Anna that Helen “knows this is her moment” and our anticipation rises. Under questioning by Anna, she sounds more confident that we’ve heard her sound for a very long time. She talks about how Rob came to control everything, even down to whether she should give birth at home or in hospital, and how Ursula sided with him. Still sounding extraordinarily calm and measured, Helen recounts the events at Easter when Rob disciplined Henry for eating chocolate by throwing his favourite soft toy away.

And just while we’re hanging on Helen’s every word, Pat starts talking to Tony about how well she’s doing, and then arguing with Ursula – shut up Pat, we’re trying to listen!

And then we get to Helen’s account of the fateful night when she stabbed Rob. How he told her that she shouldn’t have been allowed to have children, shouldn’t have brought Henry into the world, and how he forced the kitchen knife into her hand saying there was only one way she could leave, and that was by killing herself.

With some emotion now, Helen talks about how Henry appeared in the doorway and pleaded with them both to stop fighting. Fearing for Henry’s safety as Rob moved towards him, Helen acted instinctively. Rob knocked over a saucepan of custard on his way down while Helen rushed over to Henry, who had of course seen everything. Just as things are really getting going, there’s an interruption as Anna’s assistant needs to consult with her. Anna reads a short note and all we hear is “she’s with him now”?

Turning back to the case, Anna seems wrong-footed for a moment, but quickly recovers and submits a record of Helen’s call to a domestic violence help line 10 days before the incident. Helen’s reluctant to talk about it and starts to break down. A cry of “darling I’m here” from Pat angers the judge and Anna presses Helen to disclose why she made the call – what was it that she couldn’t talk to her closest friend about, that she could only tell a stranger on the end of a phone?

“Mum, Dad. I’m so sorry. Rob raped me – and not just once. It happened over and over again”.

How will this revelation change the course of the trial, and who was Anna’s assistant referring to? Is it going to be good news for the defence – or the prosecution?


The HelenTitchener (nee Archer) Rescue Fund - “raising money for Refuge because for every fictional Helen, there are real ones” - which at the time of writing has raised over £137,000.


  1. Nice blog as ever.
    This was a pretty powerful episode, it nearly had me in tears on the bus to work which was something of a surprise!! Great acting by the actor who plays Helen. But why oh why do we have to put up with the whispering in the gallery....

  2. Having made my living as a court reporter for more than half a century, may I congratulate you on your coverage of this case. (Although I'm not sure I could have got away with your mixture of fact and comment!)

  3. Oh how annoying is the gallery whispering thing. Contempt of Court surely *remembers Crown Court off the telly*. Powerful testimony from Helen, hope it's just the start. Great blog thank you

  4. Well, they said it was going to be shocking, and they were right. I don't think anyone saw that one coming - it was very powerful stuff, and the acting was amazing. Truly harrowing to listen to, but brilliantly well done.

    It also makes the way Helen has been behaving make a lot more sense - she was traumatised on a level listeners hadn't had access to. When she said that he'd raped her over and over again it made my blood run cold.

    Rob's reckoning has been a long time coming, but it sounds as if it may be a lot nearer than we previously thought.

    He's going to find it even harder to get anyone to have a pint with him in the Bull now..

  5. Very powerful indeed, and superb acting by the actor playing Helen.

    Accusations of rape so long after the event are going to be hard to prove, though, so it's just as well that Jess finally decided to come forward in Helen's defense.

    In an earlier post I said that my money was on her doing just that, and I am glad to see that it happened, since it was just about the only thing which could turn the tables on Rob and have him arrested. I hope we get it all in full technicolor - we deserve it after being subjected to months and months of Rob's sickening behaviour!

    This reversal of perceptions has been a long time coming; Susan will have to eat humble pie, Justin will be looking for a new estate manager, Henri will be returned to his mother and all those disaffected listeners can once again tune in to The Archers, but the BBC will have a hard time maintaining that kind of momentum -zoe

  6. The Titcheners are a good family.Once all the lies and slander are cleared up the truth will prevail.Poor Rob,but it will come good.

    1. Is that Susan Carter speaking?